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Adjustments help Jays make run at West title


© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 8, 2001

Since the Florida State League season started, Dunedin has been coping with losses. Fortunately for them, they are not the type that show in the standings.

Despite losing several players to promotions or injuries, Dunedin has found ways to win. It leads the Western Division at 32-27, three games ahead of Charlotte.

Credit the success to Marty Pevey. A former player who spent most of his 12-year career in the minors, Pevey took over as Dunedin manager last season and kept the team on the division title track.

The Blue Jays won the first-half title, had the best record in the league and advanced to the championship series before losing to Daytona.

Pevey was named FSL manager of the year. He also received the Bobby Mattick award from the Blue Jays for excellence in player development in the organization.

His development of players was needed even more this season. Devoid of power, Dunedin has transformed its style to better suit it.

"We can't sit back and wait for the three-run homer like last season," Pevey said. "We were more like a Sparky Anderson team last season. This season, we're more of a Whitey Herzog-like team."

It shows on offense as the team has been more patient at the plate. Although the Blue Jays rank seventh in home runs, they are first in batting average (.270) and walks (212).

"We're having a good start," Pevey said.

"It's a surprise since looking at it on paper, I thought the pitching staff would be the strength. But position-wise, our guys have been having career years at the plate."

The success has shown in the all-star voting. Four Jays -- outfielder Rich Thompson, right-hander Aaron Dean, catcher Kevin Cash and outfielder Anthony McKinney -- were voted to the game, to be held June 16 in Fort Myers.

If the Blue Jays win the first-half title, Pevey will coach the West all-stars for the second year in a row. But he isn't thinking that far ahead.

"We still have nine games to go," he said.

STAR GAZING: Speaking of all-stars, the other area teams, the Tampa Yankees and Clearwater Phillies, will be represented well.

Tampa has four players on the West roster: designated hitter Andy Brown, outfielder Mitchell Jones, right-hander Oscar Martinez and catcher David Parrish.

The Phillies have three: left-hander Greg Kubes, infielder Anderson Machado and infielder Chase Utley. Clearwater had a fourth player selected, outfielder Jason Johnson, but he has since been promoted and will not play.

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