Banged-Up Kernels Drop Double-Header

By Jeff Johnson, The Gazette

CEDAR RAPIDS — This has gone beyond absurd.

Players are slipping coming out of the batter’s box and injuring their legs. Fielders are colliding and getting concussed.

You can’t be too far away from hearing Jake Mauer being described as a player/manager. Or perhaps player/hitting coach Tommy Watkins?

“You expect turnover and change,” said Mauer, whose beaten and battered Cedar Rapids Kernels dropped a double-header to Peoria, 4-3 and 6-4, Tuesday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “But not this quick.”

And not this much.

The Kernels have had 21 player transactions a little more than a month into their five-month Midwest League season. They’ve had seven guys placed on the disabled list and one on the restricted list after testing positive for a performance enhancing drug.

The transaction and DL numbers are going up. Shortstop Engelb Vielma, who has been hitting the cover off the baseball lately, had to be pulled following his first at-bat in the opener with a left hamstring injury, incurred on the aforementioned slip following a grounder to second base.

In the fifth inning, second baseman Tanner Vavra and center fielder Jason Kanzler chased after a shallow pop in right-center, with Vavra making an over-the-shoulder catch but being clipped by a sliding Kanzler. Both guys went down, with Kanzler not getting up for about five minutes, Vavra’s foot smacking him in the head.

It’s a concussion, which means he automatically is headed to the DL, per protocol. Vavra shook off his leg injury and getting hit on his left hand with a pitch in the second game.

There’s another double-header on tap Wednesday at 5:05 p.m. Uncle, already!

“I don’t know who is left in extended (spring training),” Mauer said. “There are no outfielders left down there, there are no infielders ... They’re going to have to send someone up. Who that’ll be, I don’t know.

“It’s been a tough deal. We’re just kind of piecing it together, really. You just want to get guys healthy, get them closer (to playing). This is nothing ticky tacky. We’ve got guys who are banged up pretty good.”

Peoria scored three runs in the fifth inning for the come-from-behind win in Game 1. The Chiefs outhit Cedar Rapids by a 11-2 margin.

A five-run third inning was enough for Peoria in the nightcap. Bryan Haar’s team-leading sixth home run gave the Kernels a 2-0 lead in the first.

Before Tuesday’s double-header, the Twins announced right-handed relief pitcher Christian Powell has been released from the organization. He was 0-1 with a 7.56 earned run average in 10 appearances, after throwing in 14 games, 10 starts, last season for the Kernels.

Pitcher Jared Wilson was assigned to Cedar Rapids from extended spring training. The 24-year-old right-hander was a 19th-round draft pick of the Twins last season out of California-Santa Barbara and pitched last season for the Gulf Coast League Twins.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@sourcemedia.net

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