NEW BRITAIN - Few baseball teams at any level have hitters who can do a little bit of everything. In Jason Rogers, the New Britain Bees have exactly that.
The first baseman has stepped up and been the most consistent hitter for the Bees this season. In 82 games, Rogers has a .314 batting average, the highest among active players on the roster. Rogers also leads the team in walks (50), doubles (22) and on-base percentage (.414) and is second on the team in RBI (56).
“I try to keep my confidence high,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to try to do too much either. I know I can get on base and guys will drive me in. I just want to do whatever it takes to help the team win that day. It just comes with experience and having that confidence that you can beat that guy on the mound.”
The approach is helping Rogers and the Bees when they desperately need it. The team is currently sitting in third place in the Liberty Division and would be on the outside looking in if the season ended today. But Rogers is playing some of his best baseball of the season with a seven-game hitting streak and hits in eight of his last 10 games.
“I’m just trying to be consistent,” Rogers said. “. It’s really just trying to have a good at bat each and every time I step to the plate. I want to help the team win. It’s exciting to be playing in what I consider to be must-win games. I know we can beat anyone in this league. So we just have to go out and play our game, which includes me playing mine”
For manager Wally Backman, having one hitter who can make that much of an impact makes his job much easier.
“He’s just as consistent as it gets,” Backman said. “He’s a big league guy. When he was in Milwaukee [2014 and 2015 with the Brewers] - I talked to the people there when we got him. At times, he was able to carry clubs in the minor leagues. He’s really more of a line drive hitter. He doesn’t have a lot of home runs, but he comes up with big hit after big hit. Very consistent at-bats - quality at-bats. He hits with runners in scoring position. So he’s been a big plus for us, no question.”
Rogers has experience at seemingly every level of baseball, from the MLB to minor league to Japanese League now to independent baseball. Playing in New Britain is new territory for him, but the most important thing is that he is still on the field.
“It’s a lot different in New Britain,” Rogers said. “It’s not as much of an adrenaline rush as other places, but it’s still baseball. I’m still able to play the game that I love.”
At 30 years old, the former major leaguer knows his time in baseball could end at any time. As a result, he hopes to take advantage of every opportunity he has to step on a baseball field.
“I’m just trying not to take it for granted,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to take this chance for granted. I consider myself a veteran. So there’s no slacking or complacency, because you never know when your career is done.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org