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June 1, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Cecchini showcases skills in Greenville win

Garin Cecchini (Kelly O'Connor)
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Before he lost his every-day third baseman to a season-ending wrist injury, Greenville manager Carlos Febles got a sampling of everything Garin Cecchini brings to the table last year at Short-Season A Lowell. Now that he’s getting a full viewing, the Drive manager can’t help but like what he’s seeing.

“It’s been fun,” Febles said after Greenville’s 13-3 thumping of Charleston (NYY) Friday night at Flour Field. “He’s one of the kids where he works real hard, his approach is pretty good at the plate, and seeing him grow up as a player, it feels good. He puts his work in every day and has a good approach, and I think if he continues to work like that, he can continue to become a really good player.”

Cecchini showcased all aspects of his game Friday — his developing defense at third, a powerful swing, and his bold base-stealing habits. He went 1 for 4 with a double, 2 runs scored, and an RBI.

“I’ve worked tremendously hard this offseason with all aspects of the game, not just hitting, and it’s paid dividends,” Cecchini said. “You’ve just got to keep working. That’s what the minor leagues are about: developing.”

Cecchini never took the bat off his shoulder in the first inning against Charleston starter Bryan Mitchell, who walked four in a five-run first inning. In the next frame, Cecchini swung the bat for the first time and connected to pull a low, inside fastball off the wall in right.

From there, Cecchini stole his 19th base of the season, beating the throw into third. He stole 12 bases in 32 games for Lowell last season, and after the game, Febles called him “the best base runner we have here.”

Cecchini fouled off several pitches in the fourth before striking out swinging at a slider in the dirt. He popped out to left in the fifth, and grounded out to first in the seventh on a play that scored Bryan Johns.

“My last at bat, that was a quality at-bat for me,” Cecchini said. “I got the run in. Maybe I didn’t hit it hard, but if it’s a 5-4 game, that’s a big run.” With Friday's effort, Cecchini is hitting .306/.392/.451 with 3 home runs, 15 doubles, and 29 RBI.

Cecchini also looked much more comfortable in the field than he did with Lowell last season. Febles said he’s been “100 percent better” this year than last, and credited it with increased mobility now that Cecchini is farther removed from his high-school ACL surgery.

“He’s moving really well side-to-side,” Febles said. “I think he’s moving his feet better, and he’s making plays.” Cecchini admitted to feeling confident at the position, but said that two days earlier, he was anything but.

“My timing was really off with my pre-pitch (routine), and some balls were getting on me that shouldn’t have gotten on me,” Cecchini said. “Thank goodness, our infield coordinator (David Howard) was in at the time. He said something about it, and now it’s like night and day.”

Even when discussing those struggles, Cecchini didn’t seem to let them trouble him. Cecchini wears a grin like its part of his uniform, but Febles said that he’s all business when the time comes. Even so, Cecchini recognizes that struggles may come, and that the only way to survive them is to remain himself.

“You cannot take this game too tough,” he said. “Sometimes, I am way too tough on myself, but I try to have fun every day because it’s a game. It’s play ball, not work ball.”

Jon Meoli is a Senior Columnist for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonMeoli.