Arnie Beyeler's resolve, not to mention his patience, has been pushed to the brink these past three weeks.
When a visitor to the Augusta GreenJackets manager's office suggested the news seems to get worse by the day for his embattled ballclub, Beyeler said "Tell me about it," with a forced laugh and a half grin.
But save for a three-game sweep of the Savannah Sand Gnats this week, the Jackets have had little to smile or chuckle about lately.
Ravaged by injuries and other personnel moves, the Jackets returned home from a seven-game road trip Thursday riding the three-game streak. But their short bench caught up to them, and they fell 6-1 loss to the South Georgia Waves. The loss was Augusta's 10th in its past 14 games, a slide that includes a nine-game skid before the sweep of Savannah.
"We've just got to go out there and play because there's no options right now," Beyeler said. "It gives some opportunities to some guys who normally don't get to play. But guys aren't used to playing every day and they're breaking down because they're not in shape to play every day."
Even before the game, the news wasn't good.
The Jackets hoped for the return of center fielder and leadoff batter Antron Seiber, but the 22-year-old prospect remains on a personal leave of absence. Seiber was placed on the suspended list by the parent Boston Red Sox on Thursday. He has not rejoined the team since the South Atlantic League all-star break, missing the first eight games of the second half.
"He's got some personal business to take care of back home (in Louisiana)," Beyeler said. "I was hoping he'd be back in Savannah, and I was hoping he'd be back here today. I have no idea now when he'll be back."
The Jackets (3-5) also lost outfielder Russ Lewis, the club's leading hitter in the first half, to a wrist injury in Savannah on Tuesday.
Though X-rays revealed no broken bones, the 24-year-old Texan will be out of the lineup for at least another week with strained ligaments. Lewis was batting .295 with a club-high seven home runs and 35 RBI.
Meanwhile, South Georgia right-hander Brian Pilkington held the Jackets to one unearned run on five hits in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. A second-round pick by the Dodgers in 2001, Pilkington picked up his third-straight win to run his record to 7-1.
The Waves (5-3) scored all their runs in the third off Jackets starter Rafael Sanchez (3-9), who turned in a quality outing coming off two subpar performances. The 20-year-old right-hander was charged with three runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts to lose his fourth-straight decision and seven of the past eight.
"We're hanging in there," Lewis said. "You've got to deal with the ups and downs. That's baseball."
NOTES: The game was delayed 15 minutes in the eighth inning when the stadium momentarily lost power. Though power immediately was restored, the game could not resume until the lights warmed up. ... Former major-league manager Terry Collins was arrested in Augusta early Thursday morning and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. The 53-year-old Collins, in his first year as minor-league field coordinator with the Los Angeles Dodgers, was stopped by police on the 3100 block of Washington Road at around 2 a.m. Collins, who managed the Houston Astros (1994-96) and Anaheim Angels (1997-99), was also charged with operating an unsafe vehicle and driving without a license on his person. "He was driving down Washington Road on a flat tire, which is what drew our attention to him," said Maj. Richard Weaver of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. "He just kept driving." Collins pulled over when deputies turned on the blue lights, Collins then stumbled out of his vehicle, police said. "He was staggering," Maj. Weaver said. "He was obviously impaired and failed a sobriety test." After Collins was arrested, he was taken to the Richmond County Jail, where he failed a Breathalyzer test. Collins did not bring attention to his celebrity, but after a jailer recognized him, he admitted to being a former major-league manager. He remained in jail for 14 hours and was released after meeting bond requirements at 4:10 p.m., jail officials said. Collins was in Augusta to join the Waves, a Dodgers affiliate based in Albany, Ga. He did not attend Thursday's game.
Dodgers scouting director Logan White made the long trip from Los Angeles to meet with Burke County High star Jonathan Broxton. The Dodgers drafted Broxton in the second round (60th overall) earlier this month, but the 18-year-old pitcher has not yet signed. White said he and Dodgers area scout Lon Joyce are scheduled to meet with Broxton and his family today.
Waves 6, Jackets 1 TURNING POINT: Trailing 1-0, the Waves scored three runs in the third inning off Augusta starter Rafael Sanchez, highlighted by an RBI-triple by Sean Pierce.
fcBIG BATS: Waves cleanup batter Scott Gillitzer went 2-for-4 with one RBI.
TOP GUN: Waves starter Brian Pilkington, a second-round pick of the Dodgers in 2001, did not allow an earned run in 7 2/3 innings and held Augusta to five hits and no walks.
FOR THE RECORD: WP - Pilkington (7-1). LP - Sanchez (3-9). Save - None.
AT THE LAKE: A crowd of 2,466 fans gives the Jackets 65,456 for 32 dates (2,046 average, eighth in the SAL).
TONIGHT: Waves (RHP Mike Keirstead 0-0, 0.00) vs. Jackets (RHP Jerome Gamble 0-0, 1.69), 7:15 p.m., Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Reach Rob Mueller at (706) 823-3425.