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In the Cougars' Den: Players in radio daze over Cubs' station swap

Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 10:59 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, June 7, 2014 8:18 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Because minor leaguers have rigorous schedules similar to the major leaguers they aspire to play alongside of, keeping a pulse on the bigs can be a challenge.

GENEVA – Several Cougars cited a conflict of interest this week when asked about the parent Cubs’ impending switch from longtime radio partner WGN, AM-720 to WBBM, AM-780.

It’s not that they wouldn’t listen to reason. Perking one’s ears to any baseball broadcast is simply a challenge when you’re the one being described.

“It’s a little bit tougher, playing at the same time,” infielder David Bote said, “but when I was growing up, I would listen to games on the radio. But not anymore.”

Survey the human dial that is the Cougars’ clubhouse and nostalgia seems the only thing that’s giving radio occasional life.

On Wednesday, anyone with Sirius/XM satellite radio leaving Fifth Third Bank Ballpark after the Cougars beat Clinton could have enjoyed Charley Steiner’s Los Angeles broadcast of the Dodgers-White Sox game.

That doesn’t mean everyone could have basked in the novelty.

“Growing up, yeah, I [listened] a little bit. For my grandpa,” third baseman Jordan Hankins said. “Or we’d sit there and watch the games. Nowadays, you’re watching them on TV now.”

However, many current Cougars climb from Class-A to the big leagues, they’ll be heard on 780 beginning next season.

Those players won’t grasp much of what was said unless they happen to be a guest on the postgame show and hear some highlights played back.

Until then, radio at best serves as an offseason companion, as least on the FM side.

“There’s good stations back home that I listen to,” said right-hander Justin Amlung, a Louisville, Kentucky, native who listened to Cincinnati Reds games growing up, “but going to different places, I don’t really keep up with the radio stations too much. But I’ve got my favorites back home, you know, any time I’m in the car.”

Pitch perfect: Before becoming the third Cougars reliever promoted to Advanced-A Daytona this season, Amlung reflected on an eager clubhouse that showed a “night and day” difference from when he pitched with Kane County in 2013.

“We’re here to work and learn a lot, the game through [manager Mark Johnson],” Amlung said. “Just pay attention to the game and try to get better.”

Righty Corbin Hoffner, who joined the team from extended spring training last month, relished that atmosphere as he reunited with several 2013 teammates from Short-A Boise.

On Wednesday, Hoffner responded with his best outing of the season, striking out six in three innings of perfect relief against Clinton.

“Lately, I’ve been all over the place. I really haven’t felt comfortable on the mound,” Hoffner said. “And [Wednesday], I felt like myself, went out there and battled, threw strikes, got ahead of hitters and that’s usually a good recipe for success, so that ended up working out good for me.”

Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

In the Cougars' Den

Who’s hot

Catcher Cael Brockmeyer entered Friday batting .344 in his past 10 games and .333 overall.

Who’s not

Shortstop Carlos Penalver was hitting .188 (3 for 16) in June before Friday.

Star watch

Cedar Rapids, in town for a three-game series today through Monday, earned three bids to the Midwest League’s Western Division All-Star team. Infielder Bryan Haar joins right-handers Kohl Stewart and Yorman Landa for the June 17 game at West Michigan.

Stewart, drafted fourth overall by the parent Minnesota Twins in 2013 as a Houston high-schooler, entered Friday 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 49 innings.

Noteworthy

Today’s Spirit and Cheer Night promotion includes a pregame cheer clinic given by the Northern Illinois cheerleaders from 4 to 5 p.m., as well as a pregame performance from Moves Dance Studio. First pitch is at 6:30. … A “Meet the Team” party in the upper deck level will follow Sunday’s 1 p.m. game. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for kids 10 and under. Soft drinks and bottled water are provided. ... Steve Nusser of Geneva won the Ozzie’s Home Run & Walk 5K on May 31. The 44-year old finished in 17:16.6. Mount Prospect teenager Brooke Wolfe was the top female finisher in 18:38.7, about 20 seconds ahead of former St. Charles High standout and St. Charles East coach Denise Hefferin. The event attracted 436 participants.

Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

LEADERS IN THE KANE COUNTY COUGARS CLUBHOUSE (before Friday’s game)

BATTING AVERAGE Cael Brockmeyer, .333 Will Remillard, .319 Jordan Hankins, .293

HOME RUNS Jacob Rogers, 5 Yasiel Balaguert, 3 J. Hankins/J. Hannemann, 2

RBIS Yasiel Balaguert, 31 Will Remillard, 25 J. Rogers/J. Hankins, 24

STOLEN BASES Jake Hannemann, 18 Carlos Penalver, 12 Trey Martin, 8

ERA James Pugliese, 1.35 Jose Arias, 2.16 Duane Underwood, 2.43

WINS Tyler Bremer, 5 Paul Blackburn, 5 Daury Torrez, 5

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