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Cougars notebook: Rain halts piggyback for now

Published: Saturday, June 21, 2014 7:26 p.m. CST

GENEVA – Cougars right-handers Pierce Johnson and Jen-Ho Tseng indeed showed their arms off before a crowd Saturday night.

It just wasn't the way they were originally thinking.

The initial plan called for the tandem to piggyback against Cedar Rapids, but a rainout reduced them to a brief round of catch as fans in the right field party deck looked on.

Johnson, rehabbing from hamstring and calf injuries after landing on the disabled list with Double-A Tennessee last month, opened 2013 with the Cougars. He earned a midseason promotion to Advanced-A Daytona and helped the club to a Florida State League title.

The parent Cubs plan to re-evaluate him after a few starts. He will be limited to four innings in his first outing.

"Pierce moved pretty quick, and I think he's happy with where he's at right now and he feels like he's going to start building and progressing," Cougars manager Mark Johnson said. "It's just sometimes, you've got to reset."

Go where they tell them: The Cougars and Kernels are set to make up Saturday's game with a doubleheader of two seven-inning games beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Barring a potential postseason meeting, this marks the Kernels' final visit to Kane County in 2014. Cedar Rapids' only other series at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark came a week before the All-Star break, when the Cougars won 2 of 3 from June 7 to 9.

"It's been kind of a goofy schedule all the way around this year," Kernels manager Jake Mauer said. "It seems like we don't play teams for like, six weeks, then play them two or three times in a two-week period. I don't know if that's just how it laid out this year, but we like coming here. They always do a nice job here. The service is good, and a good atmosphere here, so it's always fun to come here."

Safe at home: Left-hander Michael Heesch rejoined the Cougars from extended spring training May 24, but the Prairie Ridge alum and one-time Bartlett resident still hooked up with a host family.

It's nothing personal on the part of his parents, Fred and Terrie. They simply retired to Florida in the offseason.

Heesch enjoyed literal and figurative home cooking with the Cougars in 2013, staying at the family's then-Bartlett home while going 3-9 with a 3.78 ERA in 22 games and 20 starts. He has made six relief appearances this season, compiling a 3.86 ERA while striking out 13 in 9 1/3 innings.

Heesch's parents recently arrived for a monthlong visit.

"I'm like, 'Go home. Enjoy your retirement,' " Heesch grinned.

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