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KC Cougars

Druley: Kane County Cougars still exploring their options

Among the select merchandise recently on super sale at the Cougars’ Elfstrom Stadium team store is a green and gold Oakland A’s visor for $2.

Fans of Kane County’s parent club might be wise to snatch the almost-hats up. They could be a collector’s item by Opening Day 2011.

The Cougars still are pondering an affiliate change for the first time since leaving the Florida Marlins for the A’s before the 2003 season. General manager Jeff Sedivy and other club officials continue to mull their options and expect to make a final decision in the next few weeks.

“We’re not ruling anything out as far as going back with Oakland,” Sedivy said, “but we’re still exploring what’s out there.”

A tampering clause prevents Sedivy from naming names, though fans should know the Cougars are guaranteed Major League affiliation as they conclude their 20th season in Geneva.

Suspend any hopes of seeing the newest Cubs and White Sox in training, however. The Cubs are in bliss with Peoria – the Cougars’ in-state rival in the Midwest League – while the Kannapolis (N.C.) Intimidators announced in July a four-year extension as the White Sox Low-A affiliate.

Cedar Rapids is in its 18th season as a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim farm club, representing the longest partnership in the Midwest League.

As the Cougars push for their sixth postseason appearance as an Oakland affiliate, Sedivy still identifies the same organizational pet peeve: though this summer has largely been an exception, the A’s tend to quickly promote players from level to level, which compromises many non-diehards walking up to the Elfstrom gate.

“At times, people move pretty fast in that system,” Sedivy said. “By the time school gets out, people are looking at a different team, pretty much.”

After moving from Wausau, Wis., before the 1991 season, the Cougars spent two summers with the Baltimore Orioles and 10 with the Marlins. Fans with gear bearing the logos of both clubs still enter the turnstiles, and Sedivy is adamant the club still hasn’t failed the A’s as its parent club.

“When you spend eight years with people and you get to know them so well, it gets tough,” he said. “It wasn’t an easy decision to decide that we were at least going to shop around.”

Darth ball: Unlike Han Solo, Sedivy has a good feeling about the Cougars’ inaugural “Star Wars” Night promotion for tonight’s 7 p.m. game against Peoria.

He anticipates a strong turnout from recreational fans of the science fiction series as well as a showing from the not-so-recreational members of the Midwest Garrison. The Illinois-based costuming club is a chapter of The 501st Legion of Stormtroopers, which prefers dressing as Imperial characters.

That’s Darth Vader and the bad guys, for anyone not strong with The Force.

Festivities will include a pregame costume parade, a costume contest and a postgame fireworks show set to composer John Williams “Star Wars” score.

Regular performer Dave The Horn Guy also is scheduled to be on hand.

Six degrees of frustration: St. Charles East alum Matt Reynolds of the Colorado Rockies started Los Angeles Dodgers pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez with a fastball on the outer half on Sunday afternoon.

It ended up being the final pitch Ramirez saw in Dodger Blue. With the bases loaded and L.A. trailing, 10-2, he protested plate umpire Gary Cederstrom’s call and was quickly ejected. Check out YouTube to see how fast.

Former Cub Reed Johnson replaced Ramirez and grounded into a double play. Ramirez was eventually dealt to the White Sox after clearing waivers.

Reyolds, meantime, has opened his big league career with 6 2/3 scoreless innings in six appearances.

The Rockies promoted the 25-year-old from Triple-A Colorado Springs last month.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@kcchronicle.com.

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