2007-08-17 / Sports

Resilient Voyles Helps Cyclones Continue Playoff Push

By Patrick Hickey Jr. And Photo By Daniel Wos

J.R. VOYLES J.R. VOYLES There may be no trading deadline in the NY-Penn League, but after getting super utility-man J.R. Voyles back from a series of injuries, the Brooklyn Cyclones may have just regained the key ingredient to continue what has been a magical season at Keyspan Park this summer.

"He was the MVP of this team over the first month of the season," said Cyclones manager Edgar Alfonzo after Voyles went down with a hamstring injury on July 13, an injury that would cost him 11 games. "It's going to be tougher from now on without him, but we'll have to make do."

During Voyles's first injury, the Cyclones were fortunate enough to have an 8-3 record. His replacement, Jake Eigsti, went on an offensive tear that would play a big part in his selection to the NYPenn League All-Star Game. Voyles however, was left to lament on the bench, while the team he was carrying on his shoulders all season before his injury, continued to win without him.

"It's kind of hard to sit on the sidelines like this when the team is so successful," said Voyles, who was among the leaders in batting average, home runs and RBI at the time of his first injury. I just want to get back on the field and start contributing again."

While things would be going great for the Mets Single-A affiliate when Voyles returned, the 23- year-old would continue his recent string of bad luck in his first game back, getting beaned in the head with a fastball in the late innings of a 1-0 loss to the Vermont Lake Monsters.

Going on to miss another 12 games because of that injury, Voyles would be stuck on the bench as the team would continue to win, going 8-4 with only three games left to go before the All-Star break.

"I really had no time to get out of the way," said Voyles. "I was just hoping nothing was broken. Thankfully it was only a nasty cut and some swelling."

Despite their success with Voyles out of the lineup during his most recent injury, the team was in desperate need of an offensive catalyst, as the team's batting average dipped over 15 points during the time Voyles was out.

Rejoining the Cyclones and hitting .333 [4 for 12] during the team's last series, Voyles, who was forced to change his jersey number from two to five because his old uniform top was ruined as a result of the blood he lost during the beaning, has continued to produce and is still fourth on the team in RBI [21] and homers [3] despite missing 23 games this season due to injury.

Feeling that he gives the team an exceptional balance of speed, power and solid defense whenever he's in the lineup, the Brooklyn coaching staff is thrilled to have him back and believe he's the missing piece in the puzzle that just may bring the Mets Single-A affiliate their first championship since 2001. "He's the difference in my lineup," said Alfonzo. "I can hit him anywhere and he'll produce. He's always in the middle of whatever offense we have; he always gets those clutch hits. He's very important to this team."

As far as the 'Clones infielder is concerned however, while he can't guarantee how successful he'll be the rest of the season, the smile on his face since his return tells the fans in Coney Island otherwise.

"I just want to do what I was doing before," said Voyles. "If my eye wasn't swollen shut after I got hit, I would have played the next day. It's going to take me a few games to get my timing back, but I think I'll be fine."

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