There's a certain adjustment period that every player experiences when he rises to Triple-A for the first time, and Indianapolis third baseman Pedro Alvarez
is no exception.
After hammering three home runs and driving in eight RBIs in his first two Triple-A contests, Alvarez had a rough April. He finished with a .224 batting average for the month and had just five homers and 15 RBIs in 22 games.
Worried? Indianapolis manager Frank Kremblas certainly wasn't.
"His hitting ability, his power, makes him special," Kremblas said of Alvarez. "That kind of bat at third base is special."
And Alvarez has put his April struggles behind him, hitting a robust .304 in his first 15 May games while collecting four home runs and driving in 21. Alvarez ranks second in the league with 36 RBIs and is third with nine home runs.
"He's had some hot streaks and he's had some cold streaks," Kremblas said. "But the one thing that has been consistent is that he has been driving in runs.
"Right now he's working on different approaches at the plate, based on the situation and on the pitcher he's facing," he added. "And he's working on all the defensive aspects of third base. The best thing he can do is just gain experience playing third -- that's how he'll learn guys hitting the ball, reactions, seeing the ball, things like that."
Toledo manager Larry Parrish, who spent 15 seasons in the Major Leagues as a third baseman, likes what he has seen defensively from Alvarez, who has made five errors in 34 games at the hot corner this season.
"We've seen a guy who looks as if he has pretty good hands and is fine, range-wise," Parrish said. "Right now he's throwing the ball low a lot of times, but that's because he's standing up a little bit and not flexing his legs.
"A couple days of work, and you can fix that. He looks like the real deal."
Alvarez, the second overall pick in the 2008 Draft, seems to be the real deal at the plate as well. The 23-year-old hit .288 with 27 home runs and 95 RBIs last season in 126 games between Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Altoona.
After his sluggish April performance this year, Alvarez leads the IL with 21 RBIs in May and trails only Buffalo's Mike Hessman and Durham's Ryan Shealy in home runs this month (four).
"Alvarez is a left-handed power guy," Parrish said. "He's got a good bat, a good arm and a good glove. He has a chance to make a lot of money playing this game."
Morales can mash: C-DH Jose Morales joined Rochester on May 14 after rehabbing from offseason wrist surgery. Morales, a postseason IL All-Star for the Red Wings in 2007 after hitting .311, rapped eight singles and a double in his first 12 at-bats for a .750 batting average to start this year. Morales also collected a pair of walks for a .789 on-base percentage.
Toledo loves Crystal: The Mud Hens welcomed "American Idol" finalist Crystal Bowersox, who grew up a few miles away in Elliston, Ohio, to Fifth Third Field on May 14. Bowersox, who sang the national anthem and threw out the first pitch that night, attracted 13,200 fans -- a record for the 9-year-old ballpark. The franchise record is 13,695 for a game at the Hens' former home, Skeldon Stadium, in 1966.
He said it: "Just what we needed -- Wool E. Bull is hurt. The training room is full already," Durham manager Charlie Montoyo told the Durham Herald-Sun on May 12. The Durham mascot was pelted by water balloons from the Toledo dugout when he appeared on the field that night, but it wasn't quite as funny when the mascot slipped on the wet grass and suffered an apparent knee sprain.