Ryan Theriot: Gaining Confidence

Ryan Theriot has been a big part of West Tenn's stellar offense this season. The 2001 draft pick has a .305 batting average with a .383 OBP through his first 22 games. Theriot attributes his strong start to the transition from batting as a switch-hitter to solely from the right-hand side.

"It has given me a lot of confidence," Theriot said. "Batting strictly right-handed, I can do more of what I need to do to get to the majors. It has definitely helped me out."

Theriot has become a versatile part of the Diamond Jaxx offense with his ability to play both second base and shortstop. He can also bat anywhere in the lineup, as manager Bobby Dickerson has used the infielder at both the top and bottom of his batting order this season.

"I'm more of a gap-to-gap, contact guy that scores some runs," Theriot said. "I'm kind of a table-setter right now. As long as I'm in the lineup, I couldn't care less where I'm hitting."

Theriot has primarily played second this season with Buck Coats getting the majority of starts at short. (Jemel Spearman is also in the mix with Theriot and Coats for the middle infield slots; however, Spearman has recently been sidelined with a wrist injury.)

Theriot has gone back and forth between second and short all throughout his career. During his freshman season at LSU, he played second, but short was his main position just prior to being selected by the Cubs.

"I just prefer to be in that lineup," Theriot said. "It doesn't matter to me too much where I play. Second base is a position I'm still learning. My defense is good; the last couple of years, I got a little lackadaisical. I'm now starting to understand the footwork. It's getting a little more natural. I'm getting close to being as fluid there (at second base) as I am at short. Right now, it's pretty much a tossup."

Theriot is enjoying his stay in the Southern League partly because Pringles Park is only 500 miles from his hometown of Baton Rouge, where he went to college and was a member of LSU's championship team in 2000.

He is pretty familiar with Jackson after spending half of the 2003 season with the Diamond Jaxx. Theriot mainly played shortstop then and struggled with a .236 batting average. This season, everything seems to be more in sync with the team having the second best overall record in the league, and Theriot improving his skills.

"It's an incredible group of guys with a great manager and great coaches," Theriot said. "We have good hitters, and it's exciting to come to the field. Everyone comes and goes about their business right away. It's exciting when you win."

The experience of being a minor leaguer has not grown old on Theriot.

"A lot of talking goes on on the team bus," Theriot said. "I can't sleep on the bus. It's not that bad, though; you just kind of hang out and relax. I look outside and look at the wildlife. I don't mind it."

The 25-year-old feels he will get on base much more often by just hitting from the right side of the plate. And so far, he's right.

Scott Sabin is the contributing editor of Inside The Ivy. Write to Scott at scott@insidetheivy.com.

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