New Grip Helps Brock Peterson Slug Eight Homers in Nine Games And Climb to Top of Atlantic League Ladder
Brock Peterson remembers one time when he banged out something like 17 consecutive hits. But that was as an American Legion player, and he was using a metal bat.
His latest streak was much more vital to his career because eight home runs in nine games in a 10-day period in the Atlantic League is the type of run that might propel the 28-year-old first baseman back into the mindset of major league decision-makers.
Peterson, now playing for Bridgeport, CT and leading the Atlantic League with 11 home runs and in third place in runs batted in (34), worked his way all through the Minnesota Twins farm system as a high draft choice from the time he was 19 until early 2011. He clubbed 109 round-trippers, including 19 in Triple-A in 2010, a year that started with appearances in 25 major league spring training games (.256-2-6), then found himself in Bridgeport the second half of last season with a solid .272 average and another 11 homers.
Still, it took some time this spring until the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Peterson of Chehalis, WA could decide whether to keep playing. As a result, he reported only three days before the season started, and, not surprisingly, started slowly. He did not get above .200 and had only two home runs until the season was virtually a month long.
“We (Peterson and Manager/Hitting Coach Willie Upshaw) started working,” the right-hander related this week. They changed his grip, and got rid of some old habits. “I think that (grip) helped more than anything,” said Upshaw, a smile creasing his face, who is well known as a tireless worker on hitting with his players.
“I think he now knows he can hit a major league fastball,” Upshaw continued, and so does the Atlantic League since Peterson homered every day he played from May 30-June 8 (missing only in the second game of a doubleheader June 2) and finished the blitz by circling the bases in five consecutive games and driving in 18 runs in the nine-game streak. Bluefish broadcaster Perry Miles added praise of Peterson’s defense throughout the streak. He is hitting .259 for the season, after a recent 2-for-18 slide, which almost had to happen.
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No-Hit Tom Wilhelmsen Saving Games, Throwing Out Lines
Tom Wilhelmsen seems not only to have established his pitching credentials with Seattle, but also as a go-to guy for quotes.
After the onetime Golden League (Tucson, AZ) hurler closed out the Mariners’ six-man no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers and 235-pound catcher Jesus Montero threw himself into Wilhelmsen’s arms the current closer told Reuters “that’s why Rocket (conditioning coach Allen Wirtala) makes us work out so much so we can lift those big guys like that”.
Wilhelmsen was handed the ball that ended the game, but told the media he was not sure what he would ultimately do with it since five teammates also had been on the mound. “Maybe I’ll chop it up six ways,” said the hurler, who was out of baseball for five years before coming back at Tucson.
Wilhelmsen picked up his first major league save a few days earlier when with the tying runs in scoring position in the eighth inning he got Albert Pujols on a fielder’s choice and struck out Mark Trumbo. “When you’re facing those two hitters in that situation, you can’t ask for anything more,” Manager Eric Wedge told reporter Danny Kelly. “He did a great job of making them work and then he had to finish it off in the ninth.” The right-hander has three consecutive saves now along with a 2-1 record, 3.38 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 32 innings.
A Little Prayer Is a Good Idea
The Boston Red Sox are still auditioning potential public addresses announcers, primarily through one-game tryouts, since the death of Carl Beane to a heart attack last month. While various Beantown personalities have taken a turn, so has Mike Riley, who had a similar job at Brockton, MA (Can-Am League) the last three seasons and is the PA voice of the Class A Lowell (MA) Spinners this year.
“On the way in I said an extra rosary,” the 27-year-old told The Boston Globe.
(This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball. Fans may subscribe for 2012 at reduced rates at www.WirzandAssociates.com, enjoy his blogs, www.AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com and www.IndyBaseballChatter.com, or comment to RWirz@aol.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)