CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s either a giant coincidence, or there’s actually something to it.
Andrew Bechtold moved from third base to second base earlier this month for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, kind of on a whim from Manager Toby Gardenhire. In the last 10 games or so, he has been banging the crud out of the baseball at the plate.
A new position has meant rejuvenation offensively. Is there a correlation?
“I don’t know. I can’t say that,” Bechtold said, after his Kernels crushed Peoria, 12-4, Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I think it’s just moving around a little bit and being relaxed. I think initially it was to have fun. They talked to me a little bit about playing short, about playing second. They put me in there, and I think it loosened me up a little bit.”
Bechtold hasn’t played in the middle of the infield since his sophomore year in high school, but he looks pretty good. This was his 10th game at second base.
He has been the hottest Kernel batting wise, as he came into Friday hitting .364 over his last eight games. He went 2-for-4 with three runs scored here, raising his season average to .218.
It was as low as .165 in late May.
“I think it’s good to move those guys around,” said Gardenhire, a utility infielder in his playing days in the Minnesota Twins farm system. “It helps them for development. I don’t necessarily think Bechtold is going to be a second baseman. I don’t know. But you move him over to second base, and it kind of gives him a different perspective on the infield. What we hope to see is he goes over to second base, moves around a little bit, and I think it helps him. I thought it always helped me when I was playing. You play one, then the other, you start to think about what the other side of the infield goes through a little bit.”
Jose Miranda had been playing a ton of second base for Cedar Rapids (32-35), but he’s switched to mostly third base recently. He, too, has seen his fortunes offensively arrow up.
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“They’re both swinging it good,” Gardenhire said. “Doing a good job.”
Miranda, Royce Lewis and Robby Rinn all homered as the Kernels put a dent in Peoria’s playoff chances. Lewis went 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
The Chiefs came into Friday in a three-way tie for first place in the Midwest League’s Western Division, with now two games to go in the first half. Quad Cities won Friday night, while Clinton lost.
Every guy in the Cedar Rapids lineup had at least one hit, sans Akil Baddoo, who did draw a bases-loaded walk. Bryan Sammons (3-4) threw six good innings to get the pitching win, with Melvi Acosta finishing up for his first save.
The teams play again Saturday night at 6:35.
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