Hathaway shines for Suns

LAKEWOOD, N.J. – You wouldn't figure hard-nosed catcher <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1851719]>Aaron Hathaway</A> and bling-bling would go together, but all bets are off in the Hagerstown Suns clubhouse, where deli meats and jelly can be an acceptable combination for a postgame spread. <P> As such, maybe it's not so surprising that jewelry is exactly what the 22-year-old is after this season.

"I want to get a [championship] ring," Hathaway said. "Whether I get a ring here or anywhere else, that's what I'm going after."

Hathaway appears well on his way to fulfilling that goal. He stroked four hits in a 9-5 victory over the Lakewood Blue Claws Wednesday, helping the first-place Suns improve to 11-3 on the season.

Most importantly for Hathaway, a fourth-round draft pick from the University of Washington in the 2004 draft, he is finally beginning to feel like himself again at the plate. Hathaway never batted any lower than .303 in three seasons of collegiate ball for the Huskies, but hit just .206 in 131 at-bats with the Brooklyn Cyclones last season.

Hathaway started slowly this season as well, but his 4-for-4 showing against Lakewood – which included a run scored and a RBI – raised his average from .217 to .333. Hathaway said he feels like his offensive balance and mechanics have returned, and believes there's no reason the hits will stop now.

"It's coming, it's coming," Hathaway said. "Last year, I struggled in Brooklyn. I never had a consistent swing. Now, I worked real hard this offseason to put on weight and strengthen myself. With no injuries, my swing at the plate should hopefully be there."

Hathaway's program over the winter was intensive, with the catcher filing five hours of work per day, six days a week. He stuck to a 6,500 calorie diet to shed fat and emphasize muscle development, working out around his Washington home with coaches from his college days.

With that effort under his belt, Hathaway doesn't consider it out of the question that he can be promoted this season. That's another goal for 2005.

"You always want get moved up at all times, obviously," Hathaway said. "I want to start to prove to this organization that I can hit, because last year I don't think they thought so.

"I just need to stay consistent at the plate and call a good game. I need to help the guys I play with and keep it up, because if I do well, it's going to push them to do well."

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