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Appy notes: Krietemeier kick-starts career
Braves first baseman joined late after diagnosis of irregular heartbeat
07/10/2014 10:00 AM ET
Tanner Krietemeier opened with a five-game hitting streak that included three extra-base hits. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Tanner Krietemeier finished his college career and was ready to jump right into a professional opportunity after the Atlanta Braves drafted the first baseman in the 23rd round out of Oklahoma State.

He arrived in southern Virginia set to play for the Danville Braves when suddenly the brakes were applied. A standard medical exam revealed an irregular heartbeat, so his physical activity was halted.

"I really didn't know what to expect," Krietemeier said. "Not being able to do anything was pretty rough. It's very draining, especially when you want to get out there and start."

Krietemeier, who had made college stops at Nebraska and Iowa Western Community College before landing at Oklahoma State, didn't need another roadblock. After Oklahoma State was eliminated in the NCAA Super Regionals his senior season, Krietemeier, 22, figured there would be no hesitation once he landed a professional gig.

Instead, he was a spectator with the Danville club for almost two weeks before playing in his first game.

"A lot of it was just watching and getting to know all the routines," he said. "Knowing I couldn't play wasn't too much fun. After I was cleared, I had to go through some conditioning."

The layoff didn't appear overly troublesome in terms of production, because he began his career with a five-game hitting streak that included three doubles and five walks in his first week of action.

Danville manager Randy Ingle said he knows it had to be difficult since Krietemeier was anxious to start a pro career.

"He had a little bad luck," Ingle said.

Ingle said he likes the way Krietemeier responded when he finally made it into the lineup. Not only was there offense, but he supplied a ninth-inning defensive gem -- in his first game in the field -- that allowed the Braves to keep the lead in a victory against the Burlington Royals.

"I was just happy I got a glove on it and made a play," he said of a shot hit by second baseman D.J. Burt.

Krietemeier had been an outfielder until becoming a first baseman as an Oklahoma State junior.

"I'm comfortable there now," he said.

Krietemeier had returned home to Castle Rock, Colorado, the past two summers to work, skipping college summer leagues in those cases. Last year, he held a maintenance job at a golf course.

He figured he would pick up a regular dose of baseball this summer until the delay.

"It was definitely tough, but it was worth the wait," he said. "Really blessed to be able to play."

In brief

Let it rub off: The Bristol Pirates have gone the first three weeks of the season without back-to-back victories, including a 1-6 home record. Some reinforcements have arrived as pitcher Collin Balester, who boasts 73 big league appearances on his decade-long resume, has joined the team on an rehab assignment.

These mean something: Elizabethton Twins outfielder Max Murphy had three hits when the team bounced back to defeat the Johnson City Cardinals a night after losing to their neighboring rivals by nine runs. "Everybody around here talks about the rivalry," Murphy told the Johnson City Press in reference to the West Division combatants. Murphy is doing his part, batting above .400 with a league-best five home runs a quarter of the way through the season.

Quite a send-off: With three teenage catchers needing significant playing time, the Burlington Royals sent 17-year-old Meibrys Viloria of Colombia to the Dominican Summer League so he could receive consistent game action. In his last at-bat for Burlington, he roped a game-tying double as the Royals rallied past Danville. "For him to get the tying double, I love that for him," Burlington manager Tommy Shields said.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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