When it comes to explaining the importance of Salt Lake's next 40 games, Buzz manager Phil Roof gives credence to an old adage.
Something along the lines of "you can take a boy from the country, but you can't take the country from the boy." Though he's spent most of his life working in baseball, Roof's rural Kentucky roots have remained a constant."We've got to make some hay in our own backyard," said Roof, whose team is coming off a successful 6-2 road trip.
In the case of the struggling Buzz, truer words could not be spoken.
At 28-34 overall, Salt Lake currently resides in the Southern Division basement -- five games back of front-running Fresno.
That's the bad news.
Now for the good. Between June 17 and July 30, Salt Lake is getting a little help from the schedule-maker with 32 of its next 40 games at Franklin Covey Field. The favorable circumstances begin Thursday night when the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) visit the Buzz.
The contest ushers in a 12-game homestand for Salt Lake, opening a stretch that'll give the Buzz ample opportunity to surpass the likes of Tucson (31-33), Las Vegas (32-34) and Fresno (35-31) in the standings.
With the entire division locked within five games of each other, Salt Lake is in prime position to break from the logjam. While the Buzz play 32 games at home before July 30, Fresno has just 24 with Las Vegas and Tucson hosting 18 apiece.
Salt Lake's pull-away opportunity, however, is tempered by reality. The Buzz are just 10-15 at home this season.
BEE LINES: Salt Lake RHP Jason Bell (4-4, 7.64 ERA) and Tacoma RHP Brett Hinchliffe (2-3, 5.86 ERA) . . . Twins reliever Hector Carrasco, a right-hander, will begin a rehab assignment with the Buzz this week . . . Salt Lake enters its homestand with the Pacific Coast League's second-highest average attendance. The Buzz have drawn 6,513 per outing. New Orleans leads the 16-team circuit with 6,658.