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Dragons looking forward to second half

Sitting in Jose Nieves’ office before Thursday’s game against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, it was easy to understand that the Dayton Dragons manager was looking forward to the upcoming second half of the season.

The Dragons have lost their last five games, the club’s second five-game losing streak of the season, but Nieves said the losing ways come down to an old baseball adage.

“When the team is winning, the old saying is ‘players win, managers lose,’ and I take full responsibility because this is a developmental stage,” Nieves said. “This is pretty much one step in front of rookie league level. A lot of these players don’t have enough experience. Now they’re starting to understanding how to play the game the right way, at least with the basics.”

The Midwest League All-Star Game will be held at Fifth Third Field on Tuesday. With a three-day break coming up, Nieves said he is looking for his club to finish in a strong, if not winning, fashion.

“If you’ve had a bad stretch in the first half, what really matters is how you finish the first one and, at the end, how you finish the second one,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how bad or slow you start, it’s how you finish.”

During this five-game losing streak, the Dragons have managed to hit the ball well, collecting 47 hits over the stretch. Unfortunately the other facets of the game have given the Dragons some problems.

The defense has committed 10 errors over the last five games. Nieves said those uncharacteristic errors lead to pitchers having to throw more pitches and, ultimately, leads to opposing hitters getting more chances to put runs on the board. Dayton has been outscored 45-18 over the last five games going into Thursday’s contest.

“We need to play better. That’s all,” he said. “When those things click, we have the kids, the skills and the talent. People will see a good Dayton Dragons team. We have those intangibles winning teams need.”

All-Star starter replacement: Robert Stephenson, the Dragons No. 1 starter and the No. 2 prospect in the Reds organization, according to Baseball America, was placed on the seven-day disabled list retroactively to Monday with a hamstring injury he suffered during his running program in between starts.

He was the starter for Tuesday’s All-Star Game, but will miss the game. Nieves said another Dragons pitcher will fill in for Stephenson, but he doesn’t know who yet.

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