Amish GM Confident
JIMMY GOLEN April 25, 8:16 PM ET
CARGILL (Canadian Press) – With the season beginning a week from Friday, Amish General manager Kim Donnelly feels comfortable with the team she'll have.
"You go through the normal anxiety and jitters, but I really think we covered everything we were supposed to," he added. "I feel good about the ballclub. I'm viewing this season as a great opportunity for the Amish.”
"We have a couple of tremendous players back and have managed to make fewer mediocre additions than usual. We have depth and I think we'll have a pretty good offense. Almost everyone is healthy, quite a few are sober and we're ready to go and compete."
One big cause for Donnelly’s optimism was her success in luring outfielder Darryl Dayman back to the Amish from what appeared a certain departure to league rivals, the Slippery Nipples. Donnelly spent several months negotiating with Dayman’s agent/mother to secure the return of the three time gold glove lead-off hitter. In late March Dayman signed an Amish record $56, 4 year contract and returned to the Amish in time for spring training.
Another key to the Amish season could hinge Donnelly’s ability to get 33-year-old slugging infielder James Weiler to come out of retirement. Weiler announced his retirement in February, several hours after the league announced it’s new drug testing policy. Weiler has not attended training camp.
Donnelly has been attempting to persuade the league office to exempt Weiler from the drug testing policy for religious reasons. While her pleas had been falling on deaf ears, recent changes in league management make Donnelly hopeful an exemption will be granted. “We have a new commissioner who seems to be genuinely interested in allowing Jimmy to honor his religious rights." Weiler's has issued a press release stating that his religion requires him to significant quantities of performance enhancing and recreational drugs as part of a "cleansing" ceremony. Donnelly is confident that an exemption will be granted and Amish fans will see Weiler trotting the bases at the Amish home opener.
The only significant other question mark is James “Hose” Donnelly, ten-year Amish veteran who played second base for the team last year. Wear and tear seems to have finally caught up with the rapidly aging veteran who admitted he is doing things differently than he used to.
"Well, for one, I don't run anymore," Hose said. "Not running saves my knees. That and I try not to swing as hard. My wrists get sore when I swing. It hasn't gotten to the point yet this spring when everything hurt like it did last year. Time will tell."
Time will tell and for now the general manager appears willing to see if Hose’s will return to his former glory. "We didn't want to throw Hose into too much and we wanted to make sure his knees were up to it and give him time to get stronger," she said but added that “if he struggles, or anyone struggles, we have enough people to pick up the slack."
Outfield improvement: A striking difference between the 2006 version of the Amish and last year's club will be how this team plays outfield defense. One key will be left fielder Robby Graf, who played winter ball for the Veracruz Pirates in the Cuban league. Graf hit .431 with a .500 on-base percentage in winter ball and showed great improvement with the glove.
Also showing signs of improvement in the outfield is Billy “Sweetness” Plakholm, who actually showed up for spring training. This is a great sign for a player who has been a perennial slow starter.