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Clubhouse chatter- Baeza gets zoned in by zoning out

April 29, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

Eddy Baeza has a habit of getting lost in a crowd.

It's a talent.

There he is, standing on the mound for the Hagerstown Suns, in plain sight. But he's lost.

Take my word for it.

Lost isn't the term Baeza uses for it. For him, it's focus.

"Everything blocks out. I don't see the crowd or anyone else," the Hagerstown reliever said. "I just see the catcher. I get real focused."

Baeza couldn't have picked a better time to slip into his trance than Friday in the top of the ninth against Delmarva. He came on as the Shorebirds were batting around and scoring three runs to tie the score at 9.

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There he stood, facing Victor Castillo with the bases loaded, two outs and the go-ahead run 90 feet away.

He started out with three straight balls to Castillo, one pitch away from putting the Suns behind in a game they had led almost from the start. On all three pitches, he was hopping off the pitching rubber while coming to the plate.

Then, the right-hander did his disappearing act.

"Right there, I lost a little focus," he said. "I settled down. When I try to throw the ball too hard, I hop. I had to check myself down."

Check, please.

Baeza's next two pitches were strikes as Castillo took, looking for that fourth ball and the walk. The third pitch came in and was fouled off. The fourth was away and was a called third strike while Castillo stood in dismay with the bat on his shoulder.

Baeza pulled a tie out of the jaws of defeat after it was in the throat of victory. He gave the Suns a chance, one that they finally converted on in the 11th inning with Alexis Nunez's one-out home run for a 10-9 win.

"The ball just cut off a little," Baeza said. "I didn't mean it. I was just trying to throw a strike."

It was a much needed strike for the Suns, who have struggled to put games away in the win column.

"(Baeza) is a high-energy guy and in that situation he was hyped up and wanted to throw it by people," said Suns manager Tommy Herr. "But he came back from a 3-0 count and threw four straight strikes."

Baeza went on to get the victory in that game after 2 2/3 innings of relief, allowing no runs on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts. It was his second appearance for the Suns after being called up from extended spring training on April 20.

After living through a "near-death experience, Baeza was able to be philosophical.

"It's just how the game of baseball goes," he said. "I don't know why it does. Today was just our day."

By the way, Eddy, how long have you been enjoying that trance thing.

"It's been that way ever since I got here," he said.

Coming and goings

The Suns did a little maneuvering with the pitching staff over the last week via a few roster moves.

The Nationals released third baseman J.R. Reininger to create an opening for reliever Juan De Los Santos.

Reininger, a third baseman who was signed by the Nationals as a free agent last season, was hitting .077 in nine games for the Suns, with two hits in 26 at-bats. He started the Suns' season opener, but his struggles with the bat caused him to lose the starting slot to Alexis Nunez. Nunez had hit .269 in 16 games this season.

De Los Santos was activated from the seven-day DL after being hit with a line drive on April 18 against Lake County. He is 0-0 with two saves and a 7.36 ERA in four games.

When De Los Santos was placed on the shelf, the Suns promoted Baeza.

Reliever Greg Bunn was placed on the disabled list on April 20 with a sprained ankle. He was 0-0 with a 7.71 ERA in four apperances. In his place, the Suns received reliever Gene Yost, a left-hander who was selected by the Nationals in the 20th round of the 2004 draft. Yost is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one appearance.

Marco Estrada threw in his scheduled start on Friday, but not with his scheduled team. Estrada was supposed to start at Municipal Stadium against Delmarva. But got lost ... or promoted ... along the way.

Estrada pitched at Harry Grove Stadium against the Frederick Keys for Potomac. Estrada was moved up to take the spot of Potomac's Clint Everts, who suffered a concussion in a brawl Thursday night.

Estrada pitched five innings while allowing two runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts. He gave up two home runs.

Suns spots

·Birthday watch: Nunez will be celebrating his 26th birthday on Monday.

·Twelve of the Suns' first 21 games have been decided by one run. They are 4-8 in those games.

·The Suns do not have a winning record on any day of the week. They have played their best on Tuesdays (1-1) and Thursdays (2-2).

·Chris Marrero has three multiple-hit games in 16 outings this season.

·Part of the Suns' problems this season is the way they start innings. Opposing teams are hitting .301 leading off an inning. Yunior Novoa has allowed five leadoff hits, three for home runs.

·Brent McMillan has three home runs to lead off innings this season.

·Jhonatan Solano has been the Suns' most effective hitter with runners on scoring position with a .583 average (7 for 12). Mike Daniel has been the most productive with 13 RBI.

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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