For Blake Tekotte, the last seven months have been eventful. Now the Charlotte Knights outfielder hopes those events will translate into a long-term opportunity to play in the Major Leagues with the White Sox.
The biggest news for the 25-year-old outfielder came in November, when he was designated for assignment by the Padres and eventually traded to Chicago for right-hander Brandon Kloess.
"It fired me up. It's kind of like getting a second wind, a breath of fresh air," Tekotte said of the trade. "I get to start over with a new team. It's been fun getting to know this staff and these guys."
The bad news came early in Spring Training when Tekotte, whose game is based on speed, suffered a strained hamstring that slowed his progress.
"It was something that nagged me a little bit and I probably should have tried to nip it in the bud earlier than I did," he said. "But getting back on the field was a great thing."
Then came the best news: An injury to Dayan Viciedo opened up a spot on the White Sox roster for the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder. While he played in only three games with Chicago, Tekotte, who had brief cups of coffee with the Padres in each of the past two seasons, said his time in the Majors was a great experience.
"I got to know those guys, but I also got to see how they went about their business," he said. "With the veterans the White Sox have, guys like Paul [Konerko] and Adam [Dunn], they are great teammates to learn from.
"Coming to [Charlotte] is just part of the game, and I understand that. Now I get to play every day, get some at-bats and try to get into a groove."
While Knights manager Joel Skinner has had Tekotte in his lineup for just one week, he likes what he's seen of the speedy center fielder.
"He's an athletic kid," Skinner said. "The important thing for him, at least from an offensive standpoint, is to keep the ball out of the air.
"He's got some sock in his bat, but he needs to be the type of guy who hits the ball on a line. He's not a hit-the-ball-over-the-fence kind of guy, so the numbers you want to look at for him are his on-base percentage and the number of runs he scores."
While Tekotte has struggled early -- an 0-for-7 night in a 13-inning game at Toledo this week is a big reason his batting average stood at .167 -- both he and his manager feel the move to a new organization could jump-start his career.
"It can be refreshing, it just depends on how you look at it," Skinner said. "At the Minor League level, it's an opportunity. When you're traded from one organization to the other, the positive is that somebody traded a player to get you.
"These guys are being judged on a daily basis, so that part of it never goes away. Being in a new organization is an opportunity to come out to the park and just do your thing."
Tekotte agreed, adding, "The Padres were great and I give them thanks for the opportunity they gave me. But it was just time to move on, so I was grateful they were able to make a trade so they could put me in a better position."
Leaders of the pack: You don't have to go very far down the list of International League hitting leaders to find some Buffalo Bisons. Jim Negrych leads the league with a .420 mark, while Josh Thole is fourth at .361, Luis Jimenez is next at .360 and Moises Sierra ranks seventh at .354. No other team has more than one player in the top seven. That's a big reason the Bisons' .305 team batting average leads the next highest team, Syracuse, by more than 30 points.
See Billy run: Last year, Louisville's Billy Hamilton set a single-season professional baseball record with 155 steals. This season, Hamilton isn't quite on pace to reach that total, but he leads the IL with 17 thefts in 27 games. The 22-year-old outfielder, who has been caught stealing only twice, has struggled to reach first base, however, batting .196 with a .265 on-base percentage.
He said it: "Cesar [Hernandez] has the ability to be an everyday player in the big leagues. He's a switch hitter who will steal you some bases, and those guys aren't falling out of trees." -- Phillies Minor League director Joe Jordan to The (Allentown) Morning Call. The 22-year-old second baseman had a 12-game hitting streak snapped on May 2, but he responded with hits in his next three games, including a home run on May 5, and is batting .358 with a .412 OBP and eight steals in 28 games for the IronPigs.
He said it, Part II: "It's not something you are really thinking about. In the back of your mind, you are conscious of it, but at the same time it's not something you can think about and still go out there and pitch. I was mixing it up a little bit. It certainly helped when I was locating the fastball." -- Braves LHP Sean Gilmartin to the Gwinnett Daily Post on May 2 after throwing six no-hit innings against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Gilmartin ended up giving up four hits and three earned runs in the seventh and was tagged with a 4-1 loss. On the season, he's 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA.