Gary Allenson was the manager of the Orioles' short-season team in Bluefield, W.Va., in 2006, and one of his players that year was a young second baseman, fresh out of high school, by the name of Ryan Adams
"He was a typical high school kid who was all concerned about hitting," Allenson said. "And if you catch a few balls or make a few plays, well ... "
Fast-forward to today, where the paths of Allenson and Adams reconnect as manager and second baseman respectively for the Norfolk Tides. The biggest difference in Adams, according to Allenson, is the 24-year-old's defensive improvement.
"He's come a long way defensively. Actually, he's come a long way in the past year," Allenson said. "Obviously, that was five years ago, so a player is going to develop and mature in that time. But he has taken it upon himself, along with some infield instructors in this organization, to really work at it.
"He still has some things to do, like get a little better with the double play pivot. But he's getting better, and he's been on fire with the bat."
A strong bat was what got Adams drafted in the second round in 2006, and he has been consistent at the plate throughout his career. Last year, for example, he hit .298 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs for Double-A Bowie, earning a spot on the Eastern League postseason All-Star team.
This season, the New Orleans native has batted .286 in 74 games with the Tides, despite a mid-May callup to Baltimore that lasted roughly a month.
"My goal was to play as well as I could this year and maybe get a September callup," Adams said. "I had never been called up in the middle of the season, but Brian Roberts got hurt and I got called up.
"It was a great experience, although the first day was crazy. I was in Syracuse and I had to take a 6:15 flight, so it was a long day -- and I saw my name was in the lineup."
Adams said he learned a lot while he was with the Orioles.
"I didn't play as much as I thought I would, but I learned a lot just by sitting on the bench," he said. "When you watch it on TV every night, [the Major Leagues] seems like a fantasy world. At this level, you realize how hard it is to get up there. You need talent, but you need some luck to get up there too."
While Adams played in only nine games for Baltimore, both he and Allenson said the experience was good for the infielder's development.
"I think he opened up some eyes," Allenson said. "You have to play defense to play on a winning club, and nobody wants a 24-year-old DH. He still has some work to make himself better, but he's head-over-heels better than he was. "
Adams agreed, adding, "If I go back up, I'll know what to expect -- and I'll have a lot more confidence. You really don't know what to expect until you go up there. Now that I've been up there, I realize it's the same game I've always played."
Good wood: Indianapolis closer Tim Wood was impressive in July, collecting a win and seven saves in 12 appearances; he got the win or save in eight of his last 10 games. On the season, Wood is 1-0 with a 3.32 ERA and shares the league lead with 20 saves. Opponents are hitting just .196 against him.
Streaky: Domonic Brown rejoined Lehigh Valley on Saturday, and all it took was a single in the seventh inning against Buffalo to give him the longest active hitting streak in the IL. How did that happen? He had hits in all 11 games he played earlier this season before his callup to Philadelphia in mid-May and he had at least one hit in his last seven games with the IronPigs in 2010. With hits in his first two games back, Brown entered Monday with a 20-game hitting streak.
Worst to first: In June, Toledo won only seven games, four fewer than any IL club. But in July, the Mud Hens recorded a league-best 20 victories. The reasons were simple: the Hens hit .279 in July and averaged better than five runs per game while posting a 3.40 ERA.
He said it: "There are rumors I didn't like my walk-up music and took myself out of the game." -- Pawtucket 1B Lars Anderson to the Providence Journal when asked why he was removed for a pinch-hitter July 30. The real reason? Anderson was rumored to be part of a trade to Oakland for Rich Harden that eventually fell through.