08/31/2017 11:44 AM -
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (August 31, 2017)
GARY, IND. – RailCats infielder Ryan Fitzgerald is having a successful rookie season. The Burr Ridge, Illinois native is second on the team with seven home runs and is second on the team among those who qualify with a .393 slugging percentage. Even though Fitzgerald could easily bask in his personal accolades, his only goal for the season has yet to be achieved.
“Just win the whole thing,” said Fitzgerald. “Anything short of a championship is just a disappointment. Hopefully, we can bring a ring home to the Gary RailCats.”
The goal of a championship is still attainable. Gary trails both Kansas City and Fargo-Moorhead by a game for the final playoff spot with five games remaining and the middle infielder is a big reason why the RailCats are currently positioned where they are in the standings. In his last 10 games, Fitzgerald has as many hits, has scored eight runs, and a .313 batting average. A big reason for the sudden surge is thanks to hitting coach Bobby Spain.
“[H]e’s been working a lot with me before games,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s really helped me break down my swing with me, find out what works for me, and it’s finally starting to click.”
Fitzgerald’s next appearance will mark his 80th game of his rookie campaign. Now that he has nearly played a whole season, the Creighton University graduate has gained insight on the life of a professional baseball player.
“You got to take the highs with the lows and roll with the punches,” he said. “You know you are going to have your good days, [and] your bad days. But at the end of the day, you know hopefully, the team comes out on top.”
Fitzgerald is fourth on the team with 63 hits, but 24 of those hits are extra-base knocks as he only trails Colin Willis for the team lead. Even though he is simply trying to reach base every time he is at the plate, his swing does emulate certain MLB power hitters.
“I looked a lot at the major leagues, [and] I know a lot of them are changing their swings,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve tried to take bits and pieces from them, such as Josh Donaldson, or Daniel Murphy. For instance, they talk about swinging up, [and] getting the ball in the air, because that’s where the hits are. So that’s really what I try to do.”
“I like the grass short. I don’t mind a fast field at all [and] it helps [our] offense as well,” he said. “I think we have a fast field, [and] we have the better defenders to play that. So, I would like short grass, and consistent hop in the dirt.”
The infield at the Steel Yard is kept the way Fitzgerald and his teammates like it, but not all of the infields in the American Association are kept the same way as the Steel Yard, which does lead to occasional defensive challenges.
Since Fitzgerald, like many of his teammates, is relatively local, many of his family and friends show up to games at the Steel Yard to see him play.
“Plenty of former teammates and good friends [come to my games],” said Fitzgerald. “[As for] family, my parents and my brothers are always in the stands. So, it’s always nice having a support system there for me.”
Fitzgerald will have the chance to play in front of familiar faces this upcoming weekend as he and his teammates hope that a playoff berth will be clinched in front of the hometown fans.
Gary concludes their four-game road trip against Sioux Falls on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Southpaw Alex Gunn (8-5, 3.58) makes his league-high-tying 24th start of the year against Canaries right-hander Troy Marks (3-8, 5.66) in the RailCats final regular-season road game.
Gary returns home for a four-game homestand against the Lincoln Saltdogs starting on Friday to conclude the regular season. Friday’s game is “Breakfast” Club Night and a Fireworks Friday. We’ll have breakfast for dinner and play 80s music. Wear your pajamas to the ballpark and stick around after the game for an explosive Fifth Third Bank Fireworks Show!
Jared Shlensky and Austin Anderson bring you all 100 RailCats games this season on WEFM (95.9 FM) and online at railcatsbaseball.com. Fans can purchase tickets for RailCats home games by calling (219) 882-BALL or online at railcatsbaseball.com. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
A day at U.S. Steel Yard is non-stop fun, and that's even without the baseball! The RailCats promise a wide array of laugh-out-loud between inning entertainment, great giveaways, jaw-dropping fireworks and a family-first, kid-friendly atmosphere! RailCats fans come in all ages, shapes, and sizes, and the RailCats promise every fan will have fun.
U.S. Steel Yard
One Stadium Plaza
Gary, IN 46402