Theriot not a surprise

Ryan Theriot extended his personal hitting streak to 13 straight games after doubling and tripling in the Iowa Cubs' 8-0 rout of Triple-A Omaha on Friday night. The 26-year-old infielder was a third-round Cubs draft pick five years ago, but had yet to have a "breakout" year until a season ago in Double-A.

Through his first four professional seasons with the Cubs, Theriot was a career .252 hitter -- less than stellar results by any stretch of the imagination. But he turned it on last year at West Tenn when he finished above .300 for the first time in his career and garnered career-high's in doubles (28) and RBIs (53).

Now, Theriot is once again batting north of .300 in his first season at Triple-A, which includes 68 games to this point. He has recently seen more playing time atop the order with the organization's consensus top prospect, Felix Pie, being moved further down the lineup.

While it may have caught some off-guard when Theriot seemingly shot out of nowhere a year ago and narrowly missed a Southern League all-star selection, there remains one person not the least bit surprised by the infielder's success these past two seasons.

"Not at all surprised," Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua says with a chuckle. "Maybe to some it came as a surprise, but definitely not to me or to us."

Understanding Theriot's turnaround is relatively simple. When he decided to abandon switch-hitting and focus solely on the right-hand side of the plate last year, the results started to yield success.

It was a choice Theriot made on his own with no quarrels from Joshua. And it would earn him a brief, 13-AB major league call-up late last season.

"We put our heads together and he talked to me about it a lot," Joshua recalled, adding that, "switch-hitting is not for everybody," and that, "sometimes you see pitches better from one side of the plate."

Out of Spring Training this year, the product of LSU's 2000 College World Series Championship team was considered to be the favorite to net the Cubs' final roster spot off the bench. That was until the team dealt left-hander John Koronka to Texas and acquired INF Freddie Bynum.

As such, Theriot waited his turn and was awarded a second cup of coffee in Chicago in early May – a ridiculous three-week stretch in which he garnered four at-bats before finally being freed to return to everyday play at Triple-A.

For someone who just two years ago was in A-ball and struggling to reach a career best .270 average for one season, Theriot doesn't mind too terribly his current situation.

"I just do my thing and let the chips fall where they may," he says non-challantly, as if all the years of interviews from his college championship days have left him somewhat rehearsed.

"You really can't think about what's going on [in Chicago] too much, because you don't always have a lot of control over it. All I have control over is how I play this game. I can't control where it goes after that."

Theriot may well be years removed from his collegiate playing days, but he still keeps his nose to the grind when it comes to his beloved Bayou Bengals.

As one of the school's most liked and recognizable alumni and a Baton Rouge native, it is only natural that Theriot has been asked repeatedly to weigh in on the hiring of new Tigers head baseball coach Paul Mainieri.

"I've said repeatedly to everyone who asked me that I just want to see a coach that will keep Louisiana players like myself in Louisiana and at LSU," Theriot says. "That's my only concern. The last few years, it seems like they've really gotten away from that.

"When we were at our peak, man, everybody was from Louisiana. I think that's what they need to get back to. They'll have a desire and will understand what it's all about."

Those days may be long gone for Theriot, but "the riot" (as he was recently nicknamed), continues to battle at the next level(s).

In fact, it's the first word that coaches like Joshua think of when describing Theriot: battler.

"Every at-bat, every pitch, he battles," Joshua said. "He's the one guy that, regardless of who's pitching, you can count on to give you a good at-bat."


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