2005-08-05 / Sports

Holden Surfs To Top Of The Cyclones’ Lineup

By Elio Velez

The Cyclones’ Joe Holden is swinging the bat so well that if he was a raging fire, opposing teams couldn’t get the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Keyspan Park outfield walls to put it out.

The leadoff hitter is stroking the ball well with a .354 average and has found a permanent spot in the top of the lineup.

“I know at the beginning of the year that I needed a leadoff hitter. I know how important it is. I’ve been there and done that,” Manager Mookie Wilson proclaimed with delight about the hitter from Wantagh, Long Island.

“If you don’t have it we will struggle. You need someone to set it up for us.”

Holden did not get off to a good start at first, hitting below .200 in the first two weeks of the campaign but he has corrected his struggles. After being inserted as the everyday centerfielder a few weeks ago, Holden got hits in 13 straight games and 25 hits in those stretch of games.

“I just try to make things happen and put the ball in play. I saw the pitch and luckily it went down the line,” Holden said.

“He (Wilson) definitely stressed the first few weeks that I was to get on base at the leadoff spot. I’ve been a leadoff man all my life. I understood it and so far it’s going great.”

Sound defensively, Holden has a burst of speed that can cover a lot of turf in the expansive Keyspan Park outfield. He’s also learn the art of stealing bases with 10 of 12 successful swipes in the season

“I didn’t expect him to be as polished right now as he is. He’s hitting the ball to all fields. He’s showing some power. He’s showing the ability to steal bases and read the pitcher well,” Wilson said. “He does everything you want him to do as a leadoff hitter.”

Not On a Groove

Manager Mookie Wilson’s Cyclones continue their up and down campaign as a 23-18 record puts them in third place in the New York Penn League’s McNamara Division.

Their inconsistency belies on the fact that Brooklyn has not put together consistent solid pitching and hitting at the same time to make a run against first place Staten Island.

For a week, the Cyclones scored 50 runs in five games but it’s been an anomaly for an offense that has struggled to score. They’ve hit .237 as a team with the only bright spots being Holden, Josh Petersen at .317 and Caleb Stewart who leads the team in home runs and RBI.

The pitching has been there all season. Starter Waner Mateo at 4-1 has been the bright spot every fifth day but the lack of hitting has cost pitchers such as Jeff Landing. With a 2.94 ERA in nine starts, he’s performed well but has a record of 2-5.

Injuries Aren’t Easy

It’s been a rough period for Robert Paulk, who was one of the star pitching closers along with Carlos Muniz in 2003 for the Cyclones. Third in saves in the New York Penn League, he has fallen on hard times the past two seasons.

After struggling through a campaign at Port St. Lucie in 2004, Paulk was felled by a right shoulder injury in the offseason. The surgery, which took place in January, was am immediate success as he started throwing one month later.

But as Paulk recovered in Florida, the organization needed to get him some work and was shipped back to Brooklyn. It’s been a positive development in his second stint, which will keep him here for 30 days until he can be promoted.

Paulk has regained the use of the fastball and slider as he struck out 13 batters in nine innings for a .96 ERA.

“I feel like I’m getting back. I’m not 100 percent yet but I’m there but everything is good so far,” Paulk said.

“It’s just getting the time to work that I need to get better.”

The happy news was tempered somewhat as he strained an oblique muscle in a game last week against Hudson Valley. The injury could keep him in Brooklyn for another week.

The Cyclones have a three game homestand against Vermont this weekend.

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