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LV, IL East teams play better on the road in ‘22

There is a bit of a strange phenomenon going on in the International League.

Of the six teams in the IL East that are above .500 on the season, three of them have losing records at home. Two of those teams are among the teams with the three best overall records in the league.

The IronPigs are tied with Durham (Tampa Bay Rays) for the top spot in the East at 51-42, but the IronPigs are just 22-23 at home. Third-place Jacksonville (Miami Marlins) is a game behind and 21-24 at home this season, while fifth-place Worcester (Boston Red Sox) stands three games behind Durham and Lehigh Valley and are 24-27 at home.

What is also interesting is that two of the teams above the .500 mark have allowed more runs than they have scored this season with Buffalo (Toronto Blue Jays) - fourth place, two games behind – having been outscored by five runs while Rochester (Washington Nationals) is only four games out, but have been outscored by a sizable 28 runs this season.

This week, the IronPigs put their 29-19 road record to the test when they travel to Durham to try to break the two-team tie at the top of the division.

In case you are wondering, Durham is tough to beat at home with a 26-19 record. Fans are into seeing their team win, but for the parent club, the minors are primarily about developing players. Lehigh Valley manager Anthony Contreras is all about development but admits that he has an eye on winning and so do his players.

“We are all competitors and I don’t know that if we weren’t playing for something why we would even be out there,” said Contreras before a game earlier this month. “As much as the minor league is about development, we want to win every single game and we have definitely had our ups and downs and the way we have overcome them and the way we have tackled adversity is a tribute to the guys and the record shows it.”

Former IronPigs manager Dave Brundage always talked about two ways to judge a player in the minor league. The first was how they handled adversity and the second was how they performed in big moments.

This year’s IronPigs team, as Contreras pointed out, has had some adversity with the usual number of players moving up and down and injuries sprinkled in along the way and the players have kept their cohesiveness and put the team ahead of themselves.

This year’s team is one of the tighter knit IronPigs clubs in the history of the franchise. Now if they could just win a few more games at home.

ROSTER MANEUVERS... The all-star break is a time when teams will filter out some of the players they don’t see as contributors going forward. The Phillies did that with the Lehigh Valley roster when they released pitchers Joe Gatto, Jake Newberry and Jeff Singer.

The Phillies signed Singer as an amateur free agent in October of 2015 and he had been in the organization since, but had an ERA of 7.94 this season was the IronPigs Pitcher of the Year in 2021.

HOW ARE YOU DOIN’?... Jean Segura, who has not played in a game since May 31 after breaking his right index finger and requiring surgery to fix the issue. This week, Segura will begin a rehab assignment with Lehigh Valley and could return to the Phillies lineup as early as next week and some believe his return could even come this weekend if all goes well.

Nick Maton, who took over the second base job for Segura and promptly suffered a right shoulder strain, is also with Lehigh Valley and is batting .294 (10-for-34) in his rehab stint with the ‘Pigs. The Phillies will have to do something with Maton soon as his rehab time is set to expire this week. He could be added to the Phillies roster or optioned to Lehigh Valley.

BIG BOY TOYS... Many fans were remarking about the construction near Coca-Cola Park that is now underway with multiple heavy duty construction equipment on site and lots of digging going on.

It is all to build warehouses on land that has been for sale for years. The construction will lead to a rerouting of IronPigs Way and the relocation of remote parking lots to beyond the left field fence from their current right center field location currently.

The new parking area will be accommodated by the new center field entrance which was recently completed.

Other than the center field entrance, none of the construction has anything to do with the required upgraded to Coca-Cola Park, which the team is facing deadlines on for financial commitments to complete work required by Major League Baseball.

PRESS PHOTO BY CHERYL PURSELL Nick Maton is coming off an injury. When his rehab is over he could return to the IronPigs or be optioned to the Phillies.