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Crawdads' Bianucci has perfect night04/18/2009 12:06 AM ET
By Mason Kelley / Special to MLB.com
One of the things the Hickory Crawdads coaching staff has tried to impart on Mike Bianucci is to stay on an even keel. So when he had only two hits through his first six games, he tried not to let it bother him.
Keeping his coaches' advice in mind, he didn't want to get too excited over his performance on Friday, when he went 6-for-6 with a pair of homers and seven RBIs in Hickory's 16-6 rout of the Asheville Tourists.
"It's hard not to say I'm really happy with the game I had," Bianucci said with a laugh. "I guess I'll kind of keep it to myself."
With six hits, the Rangers' eighth-round pick in last year's Draft finished just one short of tying the South Atlantic League record set by Sumter's Alex Smith on Aug. 7, 1986.
The 22-year-old right fielder boosted his batting average to .414, a statistic he said he was trying not to notice.
"I wish you wouldn't have told me that, I wasn't trying to look at it," Bianucci joked. "I had been struggling the first few games."
After going 2-for-15 to open the season, Bianucci began to spend extra time working with hitting coach Brian Dayett on fundamentals. He had back-to-back 2-for-4 nights against Greenville on Wednesday and Thursday, setting up his performance against the Tourists.
"It was just one of those days when the ball looked huge and I was hitting it good," Bianucci said.
The Auburn University product hit his first two homers of the season en route to the first multi-homer game of his brief professional career. He lifted a two-run shot to right-center field in the fourth and topped that with a grand slam to left in the eighth. He said it was the best individual effort of his career, topping a six-RBI night for short-season Spokane last Aug. 15.
"He had a great game today," Crawdads manager Hector Ortiz said. "He had a slow start and this game, I hope, is a breakout for him. The last few days, he's been working on getting his hands ready to hit."
Bianucci, who batted .316 in 31 games with the Indians last year, is in his first full pro season and said it has taken some time to adjust to factors like increased travel. The key to Friday's performance was simply seeing the ball well and building off things he worked on in batting practice.
"The Rangers put me in the right place," Bianucci said. "I have some of the best coaches. These guys have so much experience in the big leagues. I'm just taking it all in from these guys. They've told me stuff I've never even thought of or even considered.
"I'm just having a good time playing. You can't really beat the life we're living right now, playing baseball for a living."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.