The Chattanooga Lookouts are hoping history can repeat.
Not the recent history of the Southern League's first half in which the Lookouts went 26-44 but the experience manager Razor Shines endured last season with Great Lakes in the Single-A Midwest League. The Loons went 27-43 in the first half but regrouped to go 40-29, earning a spot in the playoffs.
"When it's all said and done, take a look at it," Shines said. "I know these kids, and I've done this before. I've seen kids get better, and I know these kids are going to get better. We were way under .500 last year in the Midwest League and were in the playoffs when it was all said and done.
"It happens, and if you stay the course and do things correctly, you will be rewarded."
The Lookouts opened their second-half schedule Thursday night at Tennessee and will be back home Tuesday against Pensacola. They will have gone 19 days between games at AT&T Field due to a 10-game road trip to close the first half and the four-day break for the all-star game.
Chattanooga ended its disappointing first half by losing nine of 11 games, but Los Angeles Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson said there are plenty of pluses from which to build.
"You've seen some positive strides from Chris Reed, whose slider is coming back and whose changeup has really developed into a weapon that he can throw at any time in the count," Watson said. "O'Koyea Dickson and Scott Schebler have developed well and still have a lot of upside, and Darnell Sweeney has been utilized as a second baseman and a shortstop, which has been a bonus for us. Chris O'Brien's catching and throwing is becoming more and more consistent.
"Juan Noriega has pitched with conviction, and I just think there are a lot of positives in this whole equation even though the end results have not been what we're looking for as far as wins and losses. I think that will improve in the second half."
Lookouts players are optimistic about the weeks ahead as well.
"I think we will come together more as a team," Sweeney said. "There are a lot of different faces coming together, and we've just got to improve the fundamentals. We've got to pitch the ball better and play defense better. We all know we can hit, and if we can play defense better and pitch better, we can make a run in the second half."
Said pitcher Tyson Brummett: "In the first month, we had pitching and defense. Now our pitching has been so-so, and in one game we'll hit and the next one we won't. We need to get those things meshing, and in the second half I think you'll see more consistency in terms of hits, defense and pitching."
The midway mark of the season is often a time for roster shuffling, which on occasion can be significant, but Watson said that will not be the case.
"We've never done that," Watson said. "We've always had a player here or a player there, but we've never felt like there are three guys ready to make a jump at the same time."
A player to monitor in the upcoming weeks is shortstop Corey Seager of Rancho Cucamonga in the high Single-A California League. The No. 2 prospect in the Dodgers organization according to Baseball America entered Thursday night hitting .344 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs.
"I'm not going to say he will or won't be in Chattanooga by the end of the year," Watson said. "There is a chance, but there is a chance he could bypass Double-A as well."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...