Manager believes Dragons have ‘something special’

Dayton Dragons manager Jose Moreno remembers reading a baseball book a few years ago that said games are first won in the locker room.

“I don’t know how many games we’re going to win, but this team has something special,” he said during the last homestand. “The friendship, the relationship they have between them, pitchers, position players, I’m fortunate to be around those kids and be their manager.”

The Dragons will be leaning on that togetherness when the return home this week to face High-A Central League West Division opponent Quad Cities in another six-game series. The Dragons (10-8) left home last week in first place in the East Division. But they return home in second place, one game behind Lake County, after a 2-4 week at South Bend.

The Dragons also return home without Brian Rey, who won the league’s batter of the week award the first two weeks of the season and hit safely in all 13 games he played.

Rey, who played second base and outfield, was promoted to AA Chattanooga on Friday. He headed south as the league leader in batting average (.423), home runs (six), RBIs (19), slugging percentage (.904), OPS (1.325), hits (22), extra base hits (12) and total bases (45).

Alex McGarry, a first baseman and outfielder, was promoted to Dayton from Low-A Daytona where he batted .360 with four homers in seven games. McGarry had his first two hits and first RBI Sunday.

Without Rey the Dragons lost three straight and struggled offensively all week at South Bend. They averaged 2.8 runs a game and were shut out twice.

After falling to Lansing 3-1 on May 16 before heading to South Bend, development coach Darren Bragg, who was filling in that day for Moreno, said the Dragons are a confident team this season.

“We expect to win, and it’s been that way no matter the situation of the game,” he said. “If there’s still outs left, we expect to win that game.”

The Dragons showed that attitude in Sunday’s 5-4 loss at South Bend. After falling behind 5-3 in the eighth inning, they scored in the ninth and had the tying run on base when the game ended.

“They bring the energy, the desire to try learn and win and play and effort,” Moreno said. “That’s the only thing you can ask as a manager or coach. When you have that kind of attitude everything is going to follow.”

Graham Ashcraft (1-1, 3.21 ERA) starts Tuesday’s game against Asa Lacey (1-1, 5.00). Lacey was the fourth overall selection in the 2020 draft by the Kansas City Royals and the first pitcher drafted. Lacey played at Texas A&M and is the fourth highest rated left-handed pitching prospect in the minors by Baseball America.

TODAY’S GAME

Quad Cities at Dayton, 7:05 p.m., 980

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