It’ll be OK, Andy
I could feel the sting. “We’re not off to quite the start we wanted to be. It’s not a disastrous start or anything,” Andy Chalot told me as we talked for a puff piece for the upcoming Generals Magazine.
“We’re still 11-9 and over .500. But we had a couple of games that we should have won that we gave away for one reason or another. We could realistically be 13-7 right now,” said Chalot, hours after the heartbreaking 10-9 loss at Staunton that ended with Braves cleanup hitter Todd Brazeal’s walkoff two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off lights-out Waynesboro closer Chris Enourato.
The Generals had been two outs away from pulling to within a half-game of the Braves in the Southern Division as the season hits the midway point. Now the margin is two and a half games, and Staunton holds an important 4-1 lead in the season series between the two.
Chalot is in his first season as manager of the Waynesboro Generals after two years at the helm in Covington, where his 2008 Lumberjacks team upset the heavily-favored Generals en route to an appearance in the Valley League championship series.
He was hired in Waynesboro by the man he vanquished last summer, Lawrence Nesselrodt, who also hired Chalot to serve on his staff at Division II West Virginia Tech. Chalot joined Ness at Tech after a three-year run as the head coach at Alleghany High School and another three years as the pitching coach at Gannon University in Erie, Pa.
A football and basketball standount in high school in Pennsylvania, Chalot signed on to play baseball and football for Division III power Mount Union (Ohio) before an ankle injury put the kibosh on his athletics career. You can still see the player in Chalot, though, as he bounds down the third-base line to the coaching box during games, and in the goals that he has for his future. “Being a manager here keeps you sharp for when that opportunity does arise to be a head coach as far as having to make decisions and things like that,” Chalot said, setting his sights on a college head-coaching job at some point into his future.
In the here and now, Chalot is focused on getting the Generals back into league-championship contention. “It’s been encouraging,” Chalot said of the team’s recent offensive showings, as middle-of-the-lineup hitters A.J. Kirby-Jones and Ryan Matthews, in particular, have been coming around at the plate after getting off to slow starts in ’09.
It will also help to have middle infielder Casey McElroy back from an early-season broken finger. McElroy, the starting shortstop, who had been the team’s leading hitter before his injury in a game against Staunton on June 12, is expected back in town this weekend.
“It’ll help getting his bat back in the lineup, not to mention how much better defensively it’s going to make us as well,” Chalot said.
– Story by Chris Graham