Kevin Quaranto has been in Williamsport for about a month since reporting to the Crosscutters in mid-June. Tuesday, he finally got a trip around the city to check out the surroundings of Bowman Field, the place he spends most of his days.
Tuesday was the Cutters' first day off since the season began with team obligations on June 16. So manager Andy Tracy wanted his players to get away from baseball altogether and forget about the game for 24 hours. Having lost 10 of its last 14 games, it was an opportunity for Williamsport to rejuvenate.
Trey Ford tweeted about spending the day off fishing with teammates Logan Moore, Matt Sisto and Jeb Stefan. For Quaranto, a back-up catcher for the Cutters, his day involved a tour of the city, and a trip across the bridge to check out the Little League World Series facilities.
"It was absolutely unbelievable. Twelve-year-old kids get an absolutely unbelievable set-up," Quaranto said of the Little League facilities. "We just wanted to relax (Tuesday) and I think a lot of us did that. Get your mind off baseball. It's nice to have a day completely off from everything and get away a little bit."
Days off are a cherished commodity in the New York-Penn League. Williamsport will play, barring rainouts, for the next 32 days until their second off-day of the year, which comes Aug. 13, which is the first day of the two-day New York-Penn League All-Star break. Those are the last two off days until the regular season comes to a close on Sept. 5.
Tracy said he could notice some of his players beginning to wear down as the off day approached. He tried to get as many regulars as possible a day off here or there, but he said it's important that they also learn how to play when they're not feeling their best.
"They're going to wear down," Tracy said. "People forget that short-season guys were also playing in extended spring training all year. We want to give them a day off once in a while, but we need them to play every day so they can learn the game. If you look at everybody from the big leagues down, very rarely are you at 100 percent physically."
Only once since the start of the season have the Cutters not taken their daily infield drills. And only once in that time have they not taken batting practice on the field, instead taking it in the batting cage.
The Cutters entered the off-day at 9-13 for the season and 5 games behind Auburn in the Pinckney Division. It's a bit of a puzzling record since this Williamsport team boasts one of the most talented teams to come through Bowman Field since Domonic Brown, Michael Taylor, Freddy Galvis and Joe Savery all played for the Cutters in 2007.
Quaranto said the recent six-game road trip to New York and an off-day where many of the guys got to spend time together was a big help to growing as a team because they, too, see the talent that's on this team.
"I think we have a lot of talent, but at the same time, we're young," Quaranto said. "One of the things we need to do is take a deep breath and take a step back and realize how good we are. I think the younger kids will appreciate the day off and being able to get away from it. I think as an older guy who played college ball, my body could use a day. So overall, I think it's going to help us in the long run."
"All of us want to get away from baseball for a day," Tracy said. "It's hard to find something to do when you're not used to having the whole day off. I wonder what some guys did. They probably vegetated at home or went to the mall or a movie or something. As long as they did something different, it's good."
JOAQUIN OUT: The Crosscutters have lost starting pitcher Ulises Joaquin for the foreseeable future after the right-hander had an emergency appendectomy during the road trip to New York. In his place, right-hander Ramon Oviedo was assigned to Williamsport from Lakewood.
Joaquin was in New York with his family when he called Tracy during a series against Brooklyn to say he was going to the hospital. It turned out he had appendicitis.
"He was in surgery at midnight and out at 3 a.m.," Tracy said. "It was, 'I'm going to the hospital. I'm going to surgery, I'll call you tomorrow.'"
Tracy said he hadn't spoken with anybody about just how long Joaquin will be out, but he guessed it could be a month.
"I'm sure he can't do any (baseball) activity and then he has to get his arm back in shape," Tracy said.
Joaquin was 0-0 with a 5.19 ERA in four starts. Nic Hanson started in Joaquin's spot in the rotation against Staten Island, giving up four runs in three innings.
Oviedo joins the Cutters after going 1-7 with a 9.15 ERA with the BlueClaws in nine starts. Oviedo is a 6-foot-6, 21-year old out of the Dominican Republic. Last year, pitching for both the Gulf Coast League Phillies and in the Dominican Summer League, Oviedo was 5-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 15 appearances (13 starts).