Asheville manager has issues with SAL's tiebreaker system

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The Tourists have defeated the RiverDogs in six of eight games this season, but Asheville's clear head-to-head edge won't mean anything if the two teams end up with identical records, according to the SAL's tiebreaker rules.

Instead, the next scheduled regular-season game between the two teams will serve as a one-game playoff to decide the first-half title.

Such a system, which has been in place since 1982, doesn't sit well with Asheville manager Joe Mikulik .

"It's a bad rule, a ridiculous rule. You're telling me that you don't decide who the first-half champion is until more than a month after the first half ends?" Mikulik said to the Asheville Citizen-Times .

"We beat Charleston six of eight times, could tie them with the same record, and we aren't the champion? Is that fair?"

In the event of a tie, Asheville would not get home-field advantage. The first time Asheville and Charleston meet in the second half of the season is in Charleston on July 29, the first game of a four-game series.

BACK ON THE BENCH: Felipe Alou soon will be a manager again.

One day after his 73rd birthday, Alou was introduced as the manager of the Dominican Republic's team for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The former San Francisco Giants manager and current special assistant to Giants GM Brian Sabean is considered a national hero in his native country.

"It's the biggest thing back home," Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta , the manager for the Dominican Republic in 2006, told MLB.com.

"It's still a year away, and every day in the papers there's something about it."

Alou was introduced as manager in front of the Dominican media on May 20. According to the Spanish news Web site 7dias.com, Alou told reporters he would settle for nothing less than a trip to the finals at next year's World Baseball Classic.

Alou could end up coaching his son. Moises Alou , who played for the Augusta Pirates in 1988, reportedly expressed interest in playing for his father in the World Baseball Classic in an interview last weekend with ESPN Deportes, prior to making his third trip to the disabled list this season.

BACK OFF THE BENCH: Former Glenn Hills and USC Aiken standout Cephas Howard is back in the minor leagues after spending the past two months in extended spring training. Howard was called up by the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Tuesday, and the 6-foot-5, 240-pound right-handed pitcher saw immediate action for the Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels.

Howard pitched a scoreless sixth inning in the Kernels' 4-0 shutout of the Beloit Snappers on Wednesday. He gave up two hits and struck out one batter in his first outing of the season.

BACK ON THE TEAM: The Augusta GreenJackets have picked up a third catcher while on their current six-game road trip. Eliezer Alfonzo , who started the year with Triple-A Fresno, was suspended 50 games on April 30 for testing positive for a performance- enhancing substance.

After the suspension was served, the San Francisco Giants put Alfonzo on a rehab assignment with the GreenJackets. He went 1-for-5 with two RBI in Thursday's 4-3 win over the Asheville Tourists.

Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or billy.byler@augustachronicle.com.


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