GENEVA – Thursday's Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline still resonated with the Cougars Friday.
Barring more flurries of roster moves, the shelf life figures to last well beyond that.
The club welcomed the player to be named later in the parent Cubs' trade of Darwin Barney to the Los Angeles Dodgers to his new home before a 6-2 win against Quad Cities.
Right-hander Jonathan Martinez will start against the River Bandits today, when he could pitch to fellow welcome wagoner Victor Caratini, a catcher the Cubs acquired from the Atlanta Braves for Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell. The switch-hitting Caratini arrived about 90 minutes after Friday's first pitch.
"Good ballplayer, I heard," right-hander Corbin Hoffner said. "Second-rounder last year. So, I mean, that'll help. Another hitter in our lineup. Can't turn it down, you know what I mean. Looking forward to this last month of the season. Finishing strong."
A six-run, second-inning blitz put the the Cougars on an early course toward snapping a season-high, six-game losing streak. Kane County (23-17 second half, 68-42 overall) clinched the Midwest League's first-half Western Division title nearly two months ago, but this bunch looks quite a bit different.
Boy, can Quad Cities (21-19, 56-53) sympathize. Still near the top of the race for a second-half playoff berth, the River Bandits hit town with just 10 players from their Opening Day roster.
"We get players, we send players up, we get new players," River Bandits manager Omar Lopez said. "And every time you have to get four, five new players, you have to start over and make them feel like they're family."
Martinez got an early jump on assimilation by performing the traditional duty of the next day's starter: charting pitches. The Venezuelan – who made 19 starts with Great Lakes of the MWL this season – sat alongside Sunday starter Daury Torrez in the press box, enjoying a few laughs along the way.
Things were slightly less laid back when Martinez visited Illinois earlier this week, as Great Lakes pulled him from Monday's start at Peoria with the Loons still batting in the top of the first.
Today, he'll oppose another trade survivor and player to be named later in Quad Cities righty Kevin Comer. A supplemental first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, Comer was sent to the Houston Astros in 2012 as part of a 10-player deal.
"I remember it was a bit of a wake-up call to the business side of sports," Comer said. "I was only there for a year to the day, and then I was traded out and sent over to Houston. So it was a pretty eye-opening experience, I'd say."
The Cubs released infielder Giuseppe Papaccio after the game as part of the latest set of roster moves that will be finalized today. Right-hander James Pugliese will go on the disabled list, allowing infielder Danny Lockhart to return from the DL. The Papaccio move opens a roster spot for Martinez.
With the clubhouse seemingly swirling, the second-inning outburst was just what the Cougars needed. Center fielder Trey Martin punctuated an inning that included two errors from Quad Cities shortstop Thomas Lindauer with a two-run single.
"It felt good, because we know that we haven't had a lot of those losing streaks in a year, so we knew just to keep playing hard and we'll get out of it," Martin said.
Now, a fresh crop of new faces looks to keep the Cougars winning.
COUGARS SHORT HOPS
Cougars (RHP Jonathan Martinez, 7-5, 3.47 ERA *with Great Lakes) vs. Quad Cities (RHP Kevin Comer, 1-2, 4.25 ERA), 6:30 p.m. today, AM-1280
To the left, to the left
Left-hander Tyler Ihrig became the first Cougars southpaw to start a game in 2014 and didn't disappoint, earning the victory with 5 1/3 innings of four-hit, two-run ball.
A 23rd-round draft pick of the parent Cubs in 2013, Ihrig opposed another lefty in Quad Cities' Blaine Sims, who prominently featured a knuckeball.
"Don't see too many left-handed knuckleballers," Cougars manager Mark Johnson said.
Say yer prayers, varmint
Several national media outlets, including ABC News and ESPN, highlighted the possum delay that postponed the River Bandits' Wednesday home game against Clinton for about five minutes.
Here's one of those rare times where the fourth estate didn't know the half of it.
Rabbits and squirrels also have scurried onto the field at the riverfront-located Modern Woodmen Park this season, if only temporarily.
"We have spiders everywhere. We have the Mississippi River. We have the floodplain," Quad Cities manager Omar Lopez said. "So watching a possum, that doesn't surprise me, because what else were we going to get? It's a nice stadium, it's a nice ballpark to play the game, but we are around so many natural things that when they come up, that's what you're going to expect."
In mid-May, the River Bandits visited the Cougars when Fifth Third Bank Ballpark was struck by a minor bee epidemic, as officials removed a hive that was behind home plate.
"We've had some pretty interesting happenings so far this season," River Bandits righty Kevin Comer said.
– Kevin Druley, firstname.lastname@example.org