Managing in the Frontier League All-Star Game never gets old for Mike Pinto.
Pinto, the only manager the Southern Illinois Miners have ever known, will be coaching in his fourth all-star game Wednesday night in O'Fallon, Missouri. Getting every all-star into the game is not that difficult, he said, but dividing up at-bats can get tricky.
"The game's not all that tough to do, because you've got your set starters, based on their positions. You're going to let guys play half a game," Pinto said. "Outfielders will play more because there are less of them. You're trying to get everybody in, whether it's an at-bat or two at-bats. A couple of years ago, in 2016, we really hit the ball and beat the other side, and our guys got a lot of at-bats. If guys want to get more than one or two at-bats, they need to score runs."
The game at the River City Rascals' CarShield Field will have a new format, voted on by the league owners. Pinto will manage a group of Experienced all-stars, while Washington's Gregg Langbehn will lead a group of Rookie all-stars in order to get younger players more exposure. The Miners will have players on both sides, as outfielder Romeo Cortina is on the Rookie team, and first baseman/catcher Chance Shepard and reliever Kyle Tinius are with the Experienced squad.
Cortina hit .267 in 44 games during the first half of the season, with 23 runs scored. He hit seven doubles, a triple, four home runs and 17 RBIs for the 24-23 Miners.
Pinto got the all-star managing gig after Southern Illinois reached the top of the West Division on July 4. Today the Miners are three games back of River City (29-22) after getting swept in Sunday's doubleheader against Windy City.
Shepard has had a breakout year after two years of affiliated ball. Second in the Frontier League with 14 home runs, he is scheduled to participate in Tuesday night's home run derby. Shepard batted .256 with seven doubles, a triple and a team-high 32 RBIs. Tinius went 3-0 with a 2.07 ERA and four saves in 22 appearances out of the bullpen. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-hander struck out 22 batters and walked seven in 22 2/3 innings.
Tickets to Wednesday's all-star game are $15 and $30 and available at rivercityrascals.com.