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Mets give new meaning to 'catch all'

May 07, 2006|By Bob Parasiliti

In the old days, young people joined the service for the chance to see the world.

That idea has become more refined nowadays. Now, touring the country is as easy as becoming a catcher in the New York Mets organization.

Tony Piazza is as close to a nomad that baseball has. For the last three seasons, the 24-year-old catcher has climbed up and down the rungs of New York's minor league ladder, playing wherever the Mets need someone behind the plate.

"When I came out of college, I was used to playing all the time," Piazza said last Sunday. "Now, it's a matter of coming through when you get your shots."

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The interesting thing about Piazza's plight is where that shot might come.

Playing in the South Atlantic League is tough enough, when you are in Eastlake, Ohio, one night and Lakewood, N.J., the next. For Piazza, it's magnified because one day he's with the Suns, the next, he could be in Port St. Lucie (Fla.) with the Florida State League team. Two days later, he might be bouncing around the East Coast again with either Double-A Binghamton or Triple-A Norfolk.

"You have to be able to produce when you can," Piazza said.

The chance to produce came at Municipal Stadium last Sunday when Piazza turned on a 2-2 pitch - the seventh of his at-bat - and ripped a single down the left-field line to close out the Suns' 5-4 win over Delmarva as Hagerstown scored two runs in the ninth.

"That was a tremendous at-bat by Piazza," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said. "He came in and battled his butt off. Anytime you are given an opportunity, you want to make good."

Piazza doesn't exactly have a place to call his own.

In 2004, he played one game at St. Lucie, seven with Capital City (which became the Suns) and 18 with the rookie league team in Kingsport.

Last season, he was deployed to Hagertown, St. Lucie and a short stint in Norfolk. In the short time this season, Piazza has played for St. Lucie and Hagerstown.

Rafael Arroyo was pressed into similar duty last season, playing at Brooklyn, Hagerstown and Binghamton.

"(The Mets) will move you around and find you a place to play," Piazza said.

Milestones

Why is there so much anticipation over Fernando Martinez?

Well, the Suns' 17-year-old center fielder is on a nine-game hitting streak, but has hit - hit - safely in 20 of the 23 games he has played.

The Suns won their first game in which they beat an opponent by three or more runs on Wednesday, a 10-3 victory over Lake County. The next day, they played, and lost, their first two-run game of the season.

Marcelo Perez has been impressive in his last three appearances, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out seven in 3 2/3 innings.

Pitcher Joe Serfass celebrated his 25th birthday on Saturday.

Look ahead

The Suns complete their road trip with two more games in Lakewood before returning to start a six-game homestand.

The Suns will play three games against Lake County (Indians) starting Tuesday, followed by a weekend set with Lakewood (Phillies).

Wednesday will be a 10:35 a.m. start with the third Education Day. Friday will be the first fireworks show of the season following the 6:35 p.m. game. Saturday will feature a team picture giveaway and Sunday will be a Mother's Day special, featuring a Suns' pink jersey auction and a buffet luncheon, which includes the ticket to the game, for $20. All proceeds will benefit the fight against breast cancer.




Bob Parasiliti covers the Hagerstown Suns for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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