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Scouting chief is popular

Editor's Note

: This is the second of a series looking at life on a three-day road trip to Eugene with the Southern Oregon Timberjacks. It's Friday, Aug. 6.

Grady Fuson is here in Eugene.

That's the buzz around the Timberjacks locker room.

Several players already know the director of scouting for the Oakland Athletics, others simply want to introduce themselves.

Having been Southern Oregon's manager in 1985 and again from 1989-91, Fuson has a fondness for the Timberjacks. Most of the players hope that pays off as they try to climb the Oakland A's ladder.

Fuson likes to meet with each of the organization's five affiliates during the season, getting a chance to evaluate players in person and discuss their progress with the team's coaches.

Despite his ties to the Timberjacks, Fuson says he plays no favorites when it comes to appraising ballplayers.

You want everyone to do well, he says. We have a lot of pride in what we do and want all of our guys to have success. I won't kid you, it's nice to see guys you've invested money in do well. But we're really looking at everybody.

And everybody is looking at Fuson, whether he realizes it or not.

No doubt some players are hoping he notices when nine show up to the team's 9 a.m. workout bus. After paying $10 each at a fitness center, they go about their aerobic and strength workouts with businesslike proficiency.

They give us a workout plan, and it's just up to us to follow it, says right-handed pitcher Matt Gage.

Players are encouraged to work out on the road, but there is no roll call and apparently there is no report given to Southern Oregon manager Greg Sparks.

Most guys don't come (to the road workouts). It's their loss, not mine, says relief pitcher Bryan Mazur. I've always liked lifting. It makes your recovery time that much quicker.

In spite of the early workout and Fuson's presence, not everything goes according to plan on this day.

When you make your living at the mercy of Mother Nature, you must contend with her wrath. It rains for the three hours leading up to game time, and the night's contest against Eugene becomes suspect.

We're so short in the bullpen today, (a rainout) would probably be pretty good for us, pitching coach Gil Lopez admits as it begins to rain harder. I wouldn't mind getting a doubleheader (Saturday). Either way, it doesn't matter. All these things pan out.

I hope they have some good movies at the mall if we are going to get rained out.

The Timberjacks and Emeralds had been scurrying about in normal preparation. When the game's first pitch is postponed 30 minutes, the players are left with time to kill and little experience in such an execution.

Eventually, the game is called. It's the first rainout for either team this season and the first in Eugene since 1996.

For Fuson, it's one less chance to see the Timberjacks in person. He concludes his talks with Sparks and Lopez and ventures out for a night off just like everyone else.

Some players find the comfort of their hotel beds too inviting, while others, like Lopez, long for a night out at the movies or a nice restaurant.

Still others, like pitchers Ryan Tauscher, Jason Pomar, Justin Lehr, Scott Chiasson and Cade Sanchez, search out the nightlife. For some karaoke fans, open mike night at bar featuring Hawaiian cuisine and pool tables is simply too hard to pass up.

Tauscher and Pomar were particularly inspired, each earning standing ovations. Tauscher gave a rousing rendition of the Temptations' Papa was a Rolling Stone. Pomar followed energetically with Song of the South by Alabama.

Despite the roars of approval, Tauscher and Pomar plan to maintain their day jobs in baseball.

They hope they can play it tomorrow.