Cohesion key ingredient to success during long grind of season

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Cohesion key ingredient to success during long grind of season



It’s been a shaky start to the 2022 American Association season for the Winnipeg Goldeyes, but with more than 80 games left in a long campaign, they’re relying on a cohesive locker room to get over the hump.

The Fish broke a five-game losing streak in a doubleheader against the Cleburne Railroaders Wednesday night. Winnipeg is looking to reel in wins, following a 10–game road trip in as many days during which they secured only two victories.



JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files

David Washington provides a veteran presence on the Goldeyes that younger players look up to and helps bring the team together.

A six-game homestand this week is a chance to hit the reset button and get back to .500.

“You got to ride the wave. There’s gonna be peaks, there’s gonna be valleys, we got to steady the ship,” said Goldeyes pitcher Josh Lucas. “That way, the wave’s just a little smoother than it is right now.”

Spirits were high in the Goldeyes’ clubhouse despite heading into Wednesday’s doubleheader with a 6-10 record this season.

Techno music blared through the speakers and the sounds of baseballs cracking off of wooden bats echoed through Shaw Park during batting practice. It was all business for the Fish, who were more focused on nailing the basics than the smell of mini-doughnuts cooking in a nearby kitchen.

“For me, it’s just kind of all about buying into the everyday grind of just trying to play winning baseball,” said infielder David Washington. “I think the stuff in the game will take care of itself as we take care of things in-house and keep working hard.”

“I believe if this team keeps working hard the way they do, keeps pulling together the way they do, we’re gonna have good games coming,” he added.

Washington is a newcomer to the Goldeyes after being acquired by the team in January. He’s in his 14th season of professional baseball and had six home runs and 12 RBI this season prior to Wednesday’s doubleheader.

He didn’t think the team’s first road trip of the season went as planned, but said everyone spending so much time together lately will go a long way.

“I think it’s the biggest thing about team sports, that camaraderie if you will,” said Washington. “You only get that through time and the grinding.”

Goldeyes hitting coach Amos Ramon praised Washington for his veteran presence. He said Washington is the type of person players gravitate to because of his strong work ethic. Ramon added that as a player who put in a lot of work “outside the lines” during his own professional career, it’s important to have a player like Washington in the clubhouse.

“He’s a professional in every aspect,” said Ramon. “The way he works before a game, the way he gets ready and prepares, it’s the reason why he’s getting the numbers that he is right now.”

Ramon is no stranger either to the grind of independent league baseball, playing professionally for 10 years and spending five seasons with the Fish.

“Sometimes you need to remind yourself that it is a grind and there’ll be times where it’s really bad and there’s gonna be times where it’s really good,” he said. “The way really good baseball teams excel… is when those bad times happen, getting out of it really fast.”

Ramon likes where the team is, noting its offence is strong and defence has room for improvement.

“I think we just need to overall play better defence,” said Ramon. “Things will be fine, we just need to learn how to… grind out and finish the ball game.”

Lucas added it’s key for everyone to be on the same page, especially in a league where lots of player movement happens.

“I think we’re really good. I think we need to pick it up on the field for sure,” he said. “I think we all… have to pull in the same direction, but relationship-wise the clubhouse is good.”

He’s also looking forward to regaining momentum during the current homestand.

“Anytime you get back home playing in front of your home fans, it gives you a little boost and you want to put on a show for them,” said Lucas. “There’s definitely extra motivation.”

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Credit: Cohesion key ingredient to success during long grind of season