BRISTOL - The Bristol Blues have gotten strong starts from multiple payers at the plate this season and, in particular, the outfield has stepped up big.
“Outfield’s done a good job,” Blues manager Pat Riley said. “We’ve done a good job of getting to balls out there too. All around, they’ve been doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Of the Blues’ six outfielders on the roster, five of them are batting at least better than a .200 average, two of those five have bested .300 and one of those is batting over .400.
Logan Greene has picked up 13 hits so far this season on 31 at-bats to lead the team with a .419 average.
“It feels good,” Greene said. “[I’m] just trying to hit the ball hard [and] hit the ball the other way, staying inside out [and] putting the ball in play every at-bat. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Greene’s success since the season started has caught Riley’s eye, especially his work on putting the ball into right field. The Blues have been able to move Greene around in the lineup and they have been rewarded.
“He’s hot,” Riley said. “He does a really good job going to the opposite field. He’s a contact guy. He doesn’t strike out often. We plugged him in the three hole [Thursday], the first time all season, and he came up. He did a great job with it. He’s really gotten off to a great start and hopefully he can continue to go.”
Another big bat from the outfield has not been playing all season with the Blues, but is no stranger to Muzzy Field. Liam Scafariello began making appearances in games in the second week of this season, but he was also a member of the Bristol team last summer and one that could make a difference on offense, as he already has this summer.
“He’s new to us but he’s not knew to the organization, obviously,” Riley said. “He’s a presence in the lineup. He’s a big guy, powerful bat. Hopefully he can keep swinging it.”
Since returning to the Blues, Scafariello has batted .375, including a two-run homer hit over the center field wall at Muzzy Field on Thursday. The early hits have certainly helped Scafariello make the adjustment to the FCBL, and both the hits and his history with the Blues have kept him motivated.
“It motivates me because I want to play my best for this team,” he said. “I played here last year and it’s pretty much my hometown team so I want to do well.”
One dilemma that Riley now faces is where to put Scafariello to get his bat in the lineup. He is a natural first baseman but, with Andrew Kendrick also getting the bat on the ball, Scafariello should end up in the outfield plenty this summer, which Riley is confident he can handle.
“I think he’ll be fine in the outfield,” Riley said. “He’s a first baseman but don’t be surprised if you see him in the outfield. Obviously, we’d like to have his bat in there. If you can show you can hit more times than not, they’re always going to find a spot for you, whether it’s DH or a position, whatever it is. If he keeps showing that he can swing the bat, then we’ll find a spot for him.”
Scafariello does not care where he plays, as long as he can get in the game and give his team a chance to earn a win that night.
“I’ll do anything to help the team win,” he said. “So if that means I have to DH or means I play right or left, it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re winning, it doesn’t really matter.”
The Blues have won a majority of their close games, lifted by clutch production by various players - especially on Thursday, when outfielder Lorenzo Arcuri knocked in two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win the game for the Blues.
“It’s been good,” Riley said. “Getting production from a lot of different guys. Lorenzo [Arcuri] was the guy [Thursday]. I’m sure there’ll be another guy another time.”
The Blues have twice as many outfielders as can fit in the nightly lineup, so Riley has had to make the difficult choice every game to sit three of them. But he seems to have been making good decisions, as the outfielders are some of the best hitters on his team.
Even though it’s a tough decision every time, Riley is not worried about having to make it if his guys continue to get their bats on the ball and bring home wins.
“We’ve got depth and, in this league, that’s what you need,” he said. “There’ll be a time when you’re going to need to fizzle out and put together your best lineup but, as long and we keep getting production from everybody, I’m okay with that. I’m okay with making those decisions.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org