Ronny Cedeno is slick. Period. Watch him play second base, shortstop, watch him warm up and you can see that for this kid defense isn't a chore, it's just fun.
"I'm happy when I play defense," Cedeno said from Hohokam Park in Mesa where his Mesa Solar Sox were getting ready to take on the Peoria Saguaros in Arizona Fall League action. But he doesn't take that defense for granted. "I work on my defense everyday because if I just work on my hitting the defense will go away."
That seems doubtful, but it also seems doubtful that Cedeno would do anything other than work hard. He's out early, working at...third? "I work on all the positions, because I want to be the best at all the positions." Before practice, before the games, Cedeno is on the field, glove, and smile, in action.
Still, the web work isn't the issue, the Cubs want to know if Cedeno can hit, and while he continues to work on his defense, his offense isn't getting neglected. "I'm working to try and hit the ball back up the middle, and to the right side more, I just want to improve."
Though he didn't tear the cover off the ball this season at West Tennessee Cedeno was certainly a serviceable hitter. His problem, as it is with so many youngsters, was contact. In just 384 at bats he struck out 74 times, so staying through the hitting zone is also a focus. "That's why I'm trying to go the other way more," Cedeno said, "just not pulling off the ball, and hitting it where it is pitched, instead of trying to pull everything."
The next step is working on Cedeno's speed. He's fast, but had as many caught stealings (10) as stolen bases last year. "I've spent time in the instructional league and it really helped me, there's a lot of one on one work there." And it seems to be translating into results. Cedeno says he feels more comfortable, both at the plate and on the bases, and he hopes it can translate into a big league roster spot next year.
"I want to play in the major leagues, and I think I can. I hope to get a call up, maybe for Spring Training, and then I'll keep working and try to make the team. It's not really like work, it's a lot of fun to play baseball, so I keep working, and keep having fun, but I'll have more fun in the major leagues."
Phillies in the desert: Ryan Howard isn't hitting many homeruns lately, but he's becoming a doubles machine. With three doubles in his last two games, Howard now has nine AFL doubles to lead the league. He went 2-for-5 Tuesday to keep his season average at an even .400, good enough for fourth in the league. Carlos Ruiz started behind the plate for Phoenix on Tuesday and hit his first homerun of the fall to drive in three runs. Ruiz is now hitting .278 with four RBI. Dan Giese added another shutout inning and another strikeout to his AFL resume. Giese is now 1-0, 3.27 in eight games, covering 11 innings of work. He has averaged one strikeout per inning pitched. Chris Roberson went 1-for-6 in Tuesday's 15-3 win over Grand Canyon. Roberson is now hitting .239 and has stolen three bases in six attempts. Buzz Hannahan (0-3-.250 in 32 at bats) and Keith Bucktrot (0-1, 2.30 in four starts) both had Tuesday off.