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51s' Nanita slugs three home runs08/19/2012 3:06 AM ET
By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com
In his 10 years in professional baseball, Ricardo Nanita has done quite a bit. Three different organizations. Two All-Star games. A stint in Mexico. Four two-homer games.
Until Saturday night, he'd never recorded a three-homer game.
Nanita slugged a two-run blast and a pair of solo shots, adding a double and driving in four runs to power Triple-A Las Vegas to a 10-4 triumph over Sacramento.
The Blue Jays farmhand has six homers in his last six games, an unprecedented power surge for a player who had a .428 slugging percentage in 3,884 Minor League plate appearances.
"I've been playing more this month, I get to play every day, and I've been working in the cage [with my coaches]. They want me to drive the ball, so you just try to get better as a player," he said. "For a lot of people, it's different; some hit singles, others hit extra bases. I'm just trying to be productive."
Nanita attributed one of the most productive stretches of his career to getting more playing time. Between a rash of injuries in Toronto and the trades the Blue Jays completed before the July 31 deadline, an everyday role opened up for the 31-year-old outfielder.
Before this month, the most at-bats he had in a 30-day stretch was 72. A little over midway through August, he's already up to 64. And Nanita's taking full advantage, hitting .359 with eight homers, 19 RBIs, a .377 on-base percentage and .781 slugging percentage in 16 games this month.
Overall, he's batting .318 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs.
"It's been a tough year. We had many players that were playing ahead of me, and I was patient," the native of the Dominican Republic said. "I got my time to play when they made a lot of trades, called some people up, and I started playing every day, taking advantage of it.
"It's not always easy. But you try to have a good attitude, be patient, and it's paying off now. That's just part of the game. The only thing you can control is giving your 100 percent every time out."
The 11 homers match the career high Nanita set last season, which he split between Las Vegas and Double-A New Hampshire. He became the second member of the 51s to record a three-homer game this year, joining Moises Sierra, who did it on June 1 at Tucson.
Producing while playing regularly, Nanita is making a case to earn his first cup of coffee in the big leagues after a decade in the Minors. He said it'd be a dream come true, but that he planned to let things work themselves out.
"I've never played in the big leagues before, I don't know if I'm going to have that or not," he said. "I just play it one day at a time and if it comes to me, amen. I can't control anything.
"That is my dream. I've been playing for 10 years. I just try to keep pushing, keep on going. Never quit. So I hope one day I can see my dream come true."
On Saturday, Jonathan Diaz also homered for the 51s, while Tuffy Gosewich went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.