LAKE ELSINORE-- Cesar Ramos got stronger as the game wore on and the outfield nearly had the night off in a 4-3 Storm win. Only one out was recorded on a fly ball when Peter Ciofrone made a diving catch in the third. Chase Headley is getting hot after making some early adjustments. Tony Franklin is encouraged by the progress of Paul McAnulty and the third base experiment. Another player may wind up on the disabled list.
It was Mike Cameron who put the Storm on the board first on Thursday, smashing a double off the 35-foot monster wall in left field. Cameron also scored the second run of the game, drawing a walk and coming home on a Colt Morton single. Cameron ended the night 1-for-2 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk. He did not figure into any defensive plays.
Cesar Ramos was strong over six innings, pitching to one over the minimum in that time. He did not surrender up a run, allowed just two hits and struck out four. He threw 68 pitches on the night with 46 strikes. Ramos was on an 80-pitch count and the staff preferred the clean break to end his night.
"I was a little erratic the first couple of innings but after that I settled down," said Ramos. "I got ahead of guys and started throwing strikes. Guys came out swinging and they were helping me out by putting the ball in play."
First pitch strikes have been the mantra and Ramos tossed ball one to four of his first seven hitters before regaining his command. He went on to throw a first pitch strike to nine of the next 12 men he faced.
"He had such a good outing," Storm pitching coach Steve Webber said. "He had a little trouble settling in but once he got the feel of the game and relaxed more he trusted his stuff.
Chase Headley is finding his rhythm at the plate after a slow start with three multi-hit games in his last four contests.
"We tweaked a few things when I got here," he admitted.
That included moving his hands into a more natural hitting position and away from his body. It has taken a little while to break his old habit of holding his hands tighter to his body.
Headley hit a seeing-eye single over the outstretched arm of the first baseman in the second inning, walked twice and added a double in the bottom of the eighth.
Infield instructor Tony Franklin is in town after spending close to two weeks in Portland. He spent most of his time working with Paul McAnulty and teaching him the nuances of playing third base.
"The great thing about Mac is you tell him to learn something and he dives right in. It makes it so easy to work with him and makes it fun."
Franklin will return to Portland after his tour in Lake Elsinore and predicts a game or two at third base for the slugger.
"We will see how he handles it," Franklin warned about McAnulty seeing regular time there. "The position is so different but he is learning. You don't want to take Leone's bat out of the lineup."
Portland plays several games against American League teams, meaning the designated hitter will come into play. It is likely that McAnulty will get game action at third at that time.
Outfielder Josh Howard, off to a hot start in Lake Elsinore with a .346 average over nine games, may miss up to six weeks. Howard hurt his right hand sliding into first base and will have it examined further on Friday. The fear is it is broken but there is no ligament damage. If it is just a sprain, Howard figures to miss a week or two.
"A week," Howard said if it turns out to be a sprain. "I am a quick healer."
Besides hitting well, Howard has also drawn seven walks to give him an on base percentage of .485.
Want to know how different the Padres and Angels systems are? The Padres swung at six first pitches in a given at bat and the Angels went to work at the first offering 18 times.