Tides report: Gotay makes immediate impact

Ruben Gotay, the switch-hitting infielder acquired from the Kansas City Royals earlier this month, has wasted little time introducing himself to his new Norfolk Tides teammates.

The 23-year-old Gotay slugged a two-run homer in his fourth game for Norfolk on July 25, providing all of the offense in the Tides' 2-0 victory over the Indianapolis Indians.

Acquired from Kansas City on July 19 for infielder Jeff Keppinger, Gotay was once billed as the Royals' second baseman of the future, but has batted just .242 in 434 major league at-bats in 2004 and 2005.

This season, Gotay had been hitting .264 with nine home runs and 43 RBI in 87 games for Triple-A Omaha.

Through nine contests for the Tides, Gotay is batting .303 with a home run and 7 RBI, and has already compiled three multiple-hit games. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored on July 24 at Ottawa, then banged out another two hits on July 27 at home against Indianapolis.

Finally, on Saturday, Gotay contributed three hits to Norfolk's attack, including a two-run single that helped spark a five-run fourth inning as the Tides rolled to a 6-4 victory over the Richmond Braves.

It would not be a huge surprise to see Gotay promoted to Shea Stadium at some point in the future, though at this time, his role clearly appears to be as Triple-A insurance.

He does come from big league bloodlines; Gotay's father, Ruben, played in the minor leagues, while his uncle, Julio, had a 10-year major league career with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, California and Houston from 1960 through 1969.

State of the Tides: The Tides enter play Tuesday with a record of 42-66 (.389), residing in third place in the International League's South division. Norfolk trails first-place Charlotte (65-42) by 23 ½ games.

Norfolk leaderboard, offense: Norfolk's .240 team batting average is the fifth-lowest in the system and the lowest among any Mets long-season farm club … No active Tides player ranks in the organization's top 10 in batting average, home runs, RBI or stolen bases.

Norfolk leaderboard, pitching: Willie Collazo's 3.25 ERA ranks sixth in the system … Evan MacLane's 10 victories are second in the system behind Binghamton's Mike Devaney and Hagerstown's Jonathon Niese, who have 11 … Collazo's nine victories tie him for third … Royce Ring has 10 saves, good for fourth in the system … Collazo's 94 strikeouts are fourth in the system, while MacLane is fifth with 78 … Norfolk's 4.36 staff ERA is the sixth-highest in the system. The Tides lead the system in losses (66), hits allowed (1,009) and home runs allowed (76).

ON THE RISE

Catcher Sandy Martinez is enjoying a hot July. The 35-year-old is batting .320 (16-for-50) in 15 games for Norfolk this month, slugging two home runs and driving in nine runs.

The surge has raised Martinez's batting average to .242 in 66 games for Norfolk this season. Martinez signed with the Mets as a minor league free agent in December after spending last season with the International League champion Toledo Mud Hens.

He's a career .230 hitter in 564 major league at-bats with the Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Expos, Indians and Red Sox.

TOUGH TIMES

Yusaku Iriki can't seem to catch a break.

The 33-year-old right-hander first was hit with a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance, then returned to the Tides in late June and promptly allowed six earned runs in two of his first six appearances back with the club.

Most recently, Iriki (2-6, 5.55 ERA) had to leave his start against the Indianapolis Indians on July 27 after just three innings when he strained his right quadriceps running the bases. Iriki had allowed three runs (two earned) in the start, a no-decision.


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