HELLO, HOMERS: Going seven games without a home run doesn’t qualify as a drought for most players. But with 6-foot-5, 270-pound David Chester, it can seem like one.
Chester halted his mini-slump in a big way Monday, smashing two solo home runs to lead the Salem Red Sox to a 5-2 victory over Wilmington in front of 2,050 at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
“It felt good,” said Chester, who was a South Atlantic League All-Star at Greenville before joining Salem on July 24. I’d been struggling a little bit lately. I didn’t have very many extra-base hits the past couple weeks, even in Greenville. I’d been hitting balls hard but not getting extension.”
PURE POWER: Chester was drafted by in the 33rd round in 2011 out of the University of Pittsburgh, where he led the Big East with 16 homers as a senior. He paced the Gulf Coast League with nine bombs that summer in his pro debut, then hit 10 more over 50 games at two levels last year.
“I try to be a complete hitter,” said Chester, 24. “I’m not just trying to hit home runs. I’m trying to work counts, put good swings on balls. I’m a bigger guy, so I don’t want to try to force something. I know if I can get connected with one, I’ve got a good chance at it. I was able to do it tonight.”
Chester socked a 2-1 change-up over the wall in left in the third inning, then launched a 2-0 fastball out to right-center in the fifth. Those were his first two homers with Salem this year and 14th and 15th overall.
LOVING THE SUPPORT: Mickey Pena tossed his fifth straight quality start but improved to just 2-2 during that span – a fact that speaks to his previous lack of run support. The lefty went seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits while fanning four.
ACCOLADE CITY: For the fifth straight week, a Salem player won a Carolina League weekly award Monday. Mike Augliera garnered Pitcher of the Week honors for the second straight week and third time in the past month. Stefan Welch and Henry Owens also got nods in July.
LOOSE ENDS: Welch homered in the fourth for Salem…Henry Ramos went 2 for 4 with a two-run triple…Blake Swihart added two hits…Pena picked off two runners.
ON DECK: Salem RHP William Cuevas (6-6, 5.68) takes on Wilmington RHP Leonel Santiago (2-1, 5.27) at 7:05 tonight. – Aaron McFarling
Quotes from the clubhouse
DAVID CHESTER (TWO HOMERS)
ON MAKING GOOD ON HIS REP AS A POWER HITTER:
“It felt good. I’d been struggling a little bit lately. I didn’t have very many extra-base hits the past couple weeks, even in Greenville. I’d been hitting balls hard but not getting extension. I just got two pitches tonight that he kind of left up and I was able to do something with them.”
2-1 change-up on first one 2-0 fastball on second one
ON HITTING THEM TO TWO DIFFERENT PARTS OF PARK:
“I was seeing the ball well tonight. He just made a couple mistakes and I was able to capitalize on them.”
ON WHETHER HE’S BEEN A POWER HITTER SINCE LITTLE LEAGUE DAYS:
“I try to be a complete hitter. I’m not just trying to hit home runs. I’m trying to work counts, put good swings on balls. I’m a bigger guy, so I don’t want to try to force something. I know if I can get connected with one, I’ve got a good chance at it. I was able to do it tonight.”
ON HAVING A LITTLE EXPERIENCE AT SALEM AT THE END OF LAST YEAR:
“It helped me out, just with the comfort level. When you go to a new place, you’re kind of nervous the first day. I was still nervous when I first got here, but just knowing the surroundings, kind of having a place to stay, just knowing everybody, it made it a little bit easier to adjust than it would be just coming in the first time.”
ON BEING NAMED A SOUTH ATLANTIC LEAGUE ALL-STAR THIS SEASON:
“I was happy, felt privileged to get it. I put up good numbers in the first half and it felt good to be recognized for it. Just hope to keep it going. That’s the biggest thing.”
ON WHETHER HE FEELS PRESSURE TO PUT UP BIG NUMBERS AS A 33RD ROUNDER:
“You feel a little pressure sometimes, but you’ve just got to let it come to you. You can’t stress on it, because that’s when you start getting into slumps and stuff. I’m just trying to be a consistent hitter, put good swings on balls. I feel like I’m getting better at that now.”
ON HIS IMPRESSIONS OF MARRERO
“I played with him all last year, too. I love him, man. He’s good. He’s really good. He’s what you want in a first rounder, for sure. He has all the tools, and he’s a great teammate. He’s a great guy to have in the clubhouse. He’s a leader on the field. You couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s awesome to be around him.”
ON MARRERO’S PENCHANT FOR HAVING FUN:
“That’s the thing with him. You get some guys who are just all business, no fun. It’s still a game. He’s serious, but he’s having fun while doing it. You can really see that in the way he plays. Everybody loves the way he goes about his business. He’s a great guy to have around.”
ON MARRERO’S PERSONALITY & MASTERY OF ENGLISH/SPANISH BRIDGING GAP IN CLUBHOUSE:
“Definitely. He’s able to help out if a guy has trouble understanding. He’s able to talk to both sides and kind of be the mediator. That helps out a lot too.”
ON HIS LAST TWO-HOMER GAME:
“I think I had one last year, but that’s the first one this year definitely. It felt good.”