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MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE LEAGUES

Vickers Having a Season to Forget

May 11, 1997|JEFF FLETCHER

It's been a horrible season for first baseman Randy Vickers.

And he's hitting .132.

His struggles at the plate for the Class-A Capital City Bombers in Columbia, S.C., can be excused because Vickers is still trying to get over the pain of watching his roommate die in a car accident three weeks ago.

"I don't like to make excuses but it's pretty hard to keep your focus when you have a lot of bad things happening," said Vickers, who played at Glendale College. "This has been one heck of a season. It's been real tough to deal with. I'm just trying to take it one step at a time."

Vickers was riding home from the ballpark with outfielder Tim Bishop on April 18. A tire blew and the car spun on the freeway, but hit nothing. Bishop and Vickers got out to check the damage. Vickers instructed Bishop to get back in the car and turn on the hazard lights.

Seconds later, a car smashed into Bishop's, knocking the 20-year-old out of the car and into another lane, where he was run over and killed by a third car.

"I didn't see the cars hit each other, I heard them," Vickers said. "When I heard it, it was just devastating. I didn't want to turn around and look, but I had to try to find [Bishop]."

Vickers' spring has gotten no better since that accident. Several days ago, his 17-year-old sister was in a serious car accident in California. On Friday morning, Vickers' neck was slightly injured when his car was rear-ended.

The latest accident occurred when Vickers was on the way to a hospital, where he and other New York Mets' minor leaguers were to be tested for tuberculosis because some may have contracted the disease from major leaguer Jason Isringhausen during spring training. Isringhausen was diagnosed earlier this week.

The recent troubles hit Vickers, 21, just as he was in the pit of a slump he attributes to the emotional strain of Bishop's death. Through Friday night's game, he had 12 hits and 34 strikeouts in 91 at-bats.

Vickers, drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1994 and traded to the Mets in 1996, had high expectations for this season after hitting 18 homers last year.

"There is nothing more I would love to do than go into a hole and hide out until everything clears up and I get on the right track," Vickers said. "But I've always been taught that you have to battle through things. I'm just going to have to hope things get better eventually."

*

Scanning Friday box scores: TRIPLE A--Right-hander Jeff Suppan (Crespi) gave up one run in seven innings, but did not get a decision for Pawtucket, R.I. . . . Shortstop Matt Howard (Pepperdine) had three singles for Columbus, Ohio. . . . Outfielder Ryan Radmanovich (Pepperdine) hit his sixth home run for Salt Lake City. . . . Right-hander Pat Ahearne (Pepperdine) gave up three runs in eight innings and picked up his first victory, against one loss, for Albuquerque. DOUBLE A--Outfielder Pat Bryant (Cleveland) had two doubles for Trenton, N.J. . . . First baseman Brad Fullmer (Montclair Prep) had two hits, including his seventh home run, for Harrisburg, Pa. . . . Former JetHawk right-hander Ken Cloude gave up one run in six innings, but did not get a decision for Memphis. . . . First baseman J.P. Roberge (St. Francis) had four hits, including his first home run, and four runs batted in for San Antonio. He raised his average to .339. CLASS A--First baseman Mike Mitchell had two hits, including his 19th double, for Rancho Cucamonga. . . . Outfielder Gabe Kapler (Taft, Moorpark College) had three hits, including two doubles, for Lakeland, Fla. . . . Right-hander Jeff Howatt (Rio Mesa) gave up one run in 3 2/3 innings of relief and picked up his first save for St. Lucie, Fla. . . . First baseman Robert Fick (Newbury Park, Ventura College, Cal State Northridge) had a double, extending his hitting streak to 24 games for West Michigan. He is batting .418. . . . First baseman Eric Gillespie (Cal State Northridge) had three singles for Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After an 0-for-23 start, Gillespie has raised his batting average to .211.

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