Ciofrone gets new position

Entering the season, Peter Ciofrone's professional experience in the outfield totaled exactly one game in 2004, but he became the starter in left for the Lake Elsinore Storm when Chris Kolkhorst retired. While it's a major adjustment, the new position gives him something he likely would not have had otherwise: an every-day job.

"It's a little new out there for me," said Peter Ciofrone, "but I'll get used to it."

Ciofrone, acquired from the Red Sox organization in 2004 for reliever Brandon Puffer, led Fort Wayne last year with a .301 average and was second on the club with a .391 on-base percentage while splitting time between second, third and designated hitter. Coming into 2006, the organization wasn't sure where to play him with Chase Headley and Sean Kazmar moving up to the California League.

When Kolkhorst retired at the start of the month, Ciofrone notified the team that he could play the outfield, and they made the move to get him there quickly.

"I got my shot to be an every-day player now in the field, so I'm going to take advantage of it as much as I can," said the 22-year-old from Smithtown, NY.

Ciofrone's transition to the outfield is made a bit easier by playing along side Yordany Ramirez, who can chase down a flyball better than anyone in the Padres' system.

"I told him ‘any ball you can get to…take it from me. He's a great outfielder."

Ramirez clearly decided to take him at his word. In Ciofrone's debut in left field, the centerfielder cut in front of him twice to catch balls which Ciofrone had a bead on.

The new position did not impact Ciofrone's work at the plate during the Storm's opening series. Ciofrone was 7-17 against the JetHawks, hitting in each game of the matchup. The lefty went 4-5 on Sunday and drove in both of the Storm's runs, including a solo shot over the big wall in right-center.

"That's always come a lot easier for me," said Ciofrone of his work at the plate, where he has a career .282 average and .375 on-base percentage.

The hot start is a marked difference from last April, when Ciofrone hit only .167 with no extra-base hits in 60 April at bats.

Roving outfield instructor Tom Gamboa spent the weekend in Lake Elsinore to work with Ciofrone, and the Storm staff will give him plenty of extra attention throughout the year.

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