Three days ago, Bill Hall was in Tempe, Ariz., working his way back from injuries that had dogged him during spring training.
On Monday night — after driving more than 700 miles in about 10 hours over the weekend — he was making his second start with the Bees (12-7) at third base. After making his way through a few franchises in the last few years as a utility infielder, he knows how to blend into a clubhouse.
“The most important part is not to try to fit in, just let yourself fit in,” he said. “Don’t try to go out and be anybody else. Just be yourself, and that will get you respect.”
Of course, it helps when you can play.
He had good at-bats, he made plays in the field, and the 33-year-old even bagged a triple on the way to helping Salt Lake to a 13-11 win over the Tacoma Rainiers (9-10).
But he’s not the only new addition who has been contributing: Brad Hawpe and Jimmy Swift each hit homers in the offensive barrage. Chad Cordero pitched for the win in relief, finally closing out a rough sixth inning that nearly knocked off Salt Lake’s lead.
With 19 transactions in as many contests — pitcher David Carpenter’s call-up was announced hours before Monday’s game — the Bees have needed the newcomers to contribute immediately. So far, a team that’s turned over half its Opening Day infield and a few outfielders has managed to be one of the most competitive squads in the Pacific Coast League.
“It’s definitely a tribute to our guys,” manager Keith Johnson said. “We’re doing what it takes offensively to put up some runs, and our pitchers have been doing a fantastic job. There have been a couple hiccups where games have gotten away from us, but for the most part they’ve been great.”
Monday was a hiccup, but not just for the Bees. The two teams combined for 31 hits in a slugfest that stretched on for nearly four hours.
Designated hitter Chris Snyder highlighted the evening with one of the best lines of his career: a single, two doubles and a grand slam. He reached base safely at every at-bat and batted in five runs.
But he was far from alone. Three other Bees went yard, and eight had multiple hits. In the first five innings, the team had piled up 13 runs.
The runs should have been more than enough, but rough pitching outings put the game in peril. A.J. Schugel was up-and-down in his start, and reliever Elvin Ramirez piled up five earned runs in less than an inning.
Fernando Cabrera and Robert Coello helped close the game on the back end, and Johnson was thankful for another bullpen rescue. And the runs.
“Our guys did a great job today of coming out and swinging the bats,” he said. “Obviously we got some things we need to work on as far as the complete game. When you put up that many runs, it should be a pretty easy game.”
Storylines Bees 13, Rainiers 11
R Chris Snyder gets a single, two doubles and a grand slam with 5 RBIs.
• Eight Bees record multiple hits and score at least once.
• Brad Hawpe, Roberto Lopez and Jimmy Swift also hit home runs.