SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain Bees are seeking better results in the second half with some of their newer players, as well as with the old ones in hopes of reaching their goal, which is a playoff spot.
Bees manager Stan Cliburn is optimistic that new pieces like infielder Tsuyoshi Fujiwara and pitcher Greg Nappo will fill some holes that the team needs filled to make a run in the second half.
“Fujiwara is going to be big for us,” Cliburn said. “He is a threat, not only with the bat to hit, but he is also a guy that is small in stature. You know he only is a guy that is about five-foot eight, so he is a tough target to throw strikes to and leading off an inning he is the guy you like.”
Fujiwara is batting .545 with three RBI in the five games he has played so far with the Bees.
Before the All-Star break, Fujiwara batted .444 in the series against the Bridgeport Bluefish, including his 3-for-5 game on July 9 versus the Bluefish.
Nappo is another guy Cliburn is looking at closely as a key piece for the team in the second half. Nappo was acquired on July 1 from the Miami Marlins organization after appearing in 16 combined games between AAA New Orleans and AA Jacksonville.
“I liked the guy from the first day I saw him, the way he threw the ball in one inning of relief and the way he pitched his first game here,” Cliburn said of the left-hander.
“You got a guy that can come out of the bullpen, which we are going to need. We got some guys down there in a situation where they are comfortable now like [Nate] Roe and [Brandon] Fry, but we have been having to go to them too much.”
In the two appearances Nappo has made so far this season, he has posted a 7.20 ERA, but has only walked one batter. He says the time with the team has been great and he is just looking forward to succeeding with the team.
“It’s a great group of guys and you know, it’s been a lot of fun so far,” Nappo said. “I am looking forward to winning with these guys from here on.”
Jordan Hinshaw was also a later addition to the Bees organization, making his debut on June 7 against the Long Island Ducks. He has also seen as playing a pivotal role if the Bees want to come back and have a strong second half.
Since joining the team, Hinshaw is batting .358 with one home run and 11 RBI.
“Some guys are ready to make a change, but for the most part you get experience showing, it feels like a clubhouse that can easily be a winning team,” Hinshaw said. “I am real optimistic that this team is in a growth situation. I think we definitely have what it takes to compete against these teams.”
All-Stars Nate Roe, Michael Crouse, Conor Bierfeldt and Jovan Rosa will also need to keep up with their production that has made them so valuable to the Bees in the season so far. Rosa says he just has one goal in mind.
“The goal remains the same. We are trying to win a ring,” Rosa said. “Hopefully we can pick it up in the second half.”
Kimberly Pena can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Kimberly_P12