Making the best of it
Everett outfielder Matthew Cerione is off to a blazing start since taking over the leadoff batting position from Ryan Royster, who was called up to play for the Class-A Clinton LumberKings Monday.
Cerione, a 6-foot-2 lefty from the University of Georgia, batted 4-for-4 with two home runs on Tuesday against Boise, and followed that up with a home run and two RBI on Wednesday — giving him three home runs and a .625 batting average in his first two games as the leadoff batter.
“I hope it continues,” Everett manager John Tamargo said of the home runs. “I hope he hits another eight there … We had Royster here (3-for-4 with three RBI in his debut Wednesday for Clinton) … He had to step into those shoes and he’s done well.”
Cerione said he batted leadoff a few times in college, but that he is still adjusting to the level of play in the Northwest League. He’s also aware that stepping into Royster’s position in the lineup brings a little bit of the spotlight with it.
“Royster is a great player that definitely got the job done,” Cerione said. “I just go up there and try to relax, try not to think about too much.”
In Everett’s past eight games, Cerione has accounted for all of his season totals in RBI (six) and home runs (four), a boost Tomargo credited in part to the Georgia product becoming more adjusted to swinging a wooden bat.
Tamargo said that there was no word yet on when and if another ballplayer will be added to replace the departed Royster.
“I haven’t spoke with the front office yet,” Tamargo said. “… I don’t know if we will or not. I’m happy with what we’ve got (right now).”
With a 2-for-4 performance Wednesday, Everett third baseman Mario Martinez extended his hitting streak to a single-season franchise record 20 games.
Tamargo didn’t want any part of talking about a streak before it was over, but was to the point about Martinez’s abilities: “He’s going to be a big league player,” Tamargo said.
Big bats versus big arms
Entering Thursday, Everett led the Northwest League in both batting average (.286) and home runs (44). The team Everett is chasing for first place in the West Division, Salem-Keizer, leads the Northwest League in team-ERA (3.60).
That sets up an intriguing August, where the hottest-hitting team in the league will play the best-pitching team in the league a total of 12 times, beginning with a three-game series at Salem-Keizer Sunday, August 16.
“That’s the funny part of this league,” Tamargo said of the fact the two teams have yet to meet. “Good pitching is always tough to beat … (but) we’re going to play baseball.”
Boise had nine home runs through Wednesday, dead last in the Northwest League and 35 fewer than Everett … Everett first baseman Gerardo Avila was kept out of Thursday’s starting lineup with a hamstring injury. Blake Trinkler (.246, 9 RBI in 22 games) started in his place … Everett right-hander Chris Kirkland, a 38th round selection by the Mariners in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, currently leads the league in strikeouts with 56 on the season.
Alex Bosworth, Herald Writer