Alex Real passed with flying colours last night.
While he will definitely be one of the offensive leaders this summer for the HarbourCats, Real's defensive play is still a work-in-progress. Although his UNM Lobos thumped Lasalle University by a score of 16-3 in Tuesday's game, it was a night to forget for Real. After making three errors at first base in the top of the third inning, Lobos head coach Ray Birmingham promptly lifted Real for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the inning. Ouch. Birmingham, who is known as a bit of an ornery old-school type of guy, must have had steam coming out of his ears by the third miscue.
But you have to give coach Birmingham some credit -- he trotted Real right back out there on Wednesday night, only this time it was for his first appearance of the season behind the plate. Real was used as a DH almost exclusively last season, but he polished his catching skills playing summer baseball for the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods League. Birmingham's move paid dividends, as Real responded with the first four-hit game of his college career. In addition to his three singles and a double, Real knocked in three runs and scored one himself. His batting average now stands at .325, good for fifth best on the team.
I would expect to see Real back at first base for a good portion this weekend when the Lobos take on UC Riverside in a four-game series. In a post-game interview last night, Birmingham was quoted as saying "He's (Real) a good catcher, but we need him to play first base too and he's gotta get it." After everything that has gone on over the last couple of nights, it's pretty clear that Real gets it.
The post-game interview with Real starts at the 1:42 mark of this video.