Renteria focuses on success; Hunter shines

Cedric Hunter

Portland, OR – With their season coming to a close this Labor Day weekend, most of the Portland Beavers are focused on what they need to do in the winter to improve for the 2008 campaign instead of the playoffs.

This season has been far from eventful for the Portland club, which is planning on a name change for next season. But, with the organization's big league squad in the heat of a pennant race, some players are moving up and will vying for their chance to contribute with the thought of earning a ring on their minds.

As the season enters its final month, the San Diego Padres are standing tall, tied for first place in the National League West division with the Arizona Diamondbacks and are poised for a playoff push. The Portland Beavers, in the opposite state, ended their season near the bottom of the Pacific Coast League standings.

Players on the Padres active roster who played a majority of the season with the Beavers this season are pitcher Jack Cassel; infielders Brian Myrow and Craig Stansberry; and outfielder Brady Clark. Myrow and Clark were the most recent additions, having been called up September 1st.

Myrow, who has some major league experience with the Dodgers for a stint in 2005, has been putting up exciting numbers during the second half of the season that culminated with the PCL batting title with a .354 batting average, as well as a PCL best .440 on-base percentage. Steady hands at the plate and in the field (.990 fielding percentage) have been his focus and it paid off last Saturday, when the Padres finally called him up. Having Myrow on the bench will give the Padres a solid bat off the bench and a reliable defensive substitute at first base as they enter the homestretch of the playoff run. Myrow was the first Beavers player to win the batting title since Harvey Storey did it in 1946 with a .326 average.

After starting off hot at the plate, posting a batting average above .300 for a majority of the season and was among the league leaders in doubles. Stansberry struggled to find the holes as often and his average dipped below .300, but his even keel and steady approach at the plate always makes him an extra bases threat and is an excellent utility infield option on defense. Stansberry spent time at second base, third base, and shortstop this season for the Beavers and had .951 combined fielding percentage.

"These guys will go straight into performing there, and hopefully contributing in some way," said Beavers manager Rick Renteria. Renteria remains positive about his team's season even with the poor overall record, stressing that the most important thing for his players to gain is experience and knowledge of what they need to work on as individuals during the off-season.

"We've had a lot of ups and downs," he said. "[There was] a lot of change throughout the year. Having had many different faces this year, I can honestly say that everybody has gone about it the right way. Maybe the results weren't what we would have liked over the term of the season, but I can't complain about the effort these guys have put out for us."

Renteria is referring to the 66 different players who have sported the Beavers jersey this season. The two most recent additions are Tom King and Cedric Hunter, who were called up from class-A Fort Wayne on Saturday to replace Myrow and Clark.

With all the faces going through the clubhouse this season, success is measured more on how those players contributed to the success of the organization. With the Padres on the cusp of a playoff appearance, Renteria feels that as a positive note for his club's performance.

"If your big league club is having success, you're doing pretty well," said Renteria. "I think all things being equal, the minor league system is there to feed the big league club's needs. We're not here to feed ourselves, even though that works itself out. We're very proud of what the big league club is doing. This is the third year that we're there in the hunt and in the pennant race and it is pretty exciting for them and for the organization."

In Monday's season finale, 9,640 fans were in attendance to see Portland win its last game under the Beavers moniker. Two homeruns, one in the second inning by Hunter and one in the Jonathan Schemmel in the third, powered the Beavers to an early lead they wouldn't relinquish to the visiting Fresno Grizzlies. The newly acquired Hunter collected two hits and two RBIs in his first triple-A start. Hunter also showed off some crafty glove work in leftfield. With the Beavers up 3-2 in the seventh, Scott McClain hit what would have been a two-run blast, but Hunter was there to make a leaping catch up against the wall and preserve the lead.

Jared Wells pitched another scoreless inning to close it down in the ninth. Wells didn't give up a single run in his final 15 appearances, and just one run in the final 18 appearances.

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