Monday, June 9, 2014

Playing different positions not a hinderance to Marcus Semien's hitting in Knights win

Marcus Semien’s trip around the BB&T BallPark diamond continued in the Knights 4-2 win over the Clippers on Monday night.

Since being assigned to Charlotte on the first day of June, the 23-year-old has made starts at second (2), third, shortstop (2) and in left field – not once in the same position on consecutive games.

The way Semien’s bounced around conjures up the image of Knights’ manager Joel Skinner sitting in his office, door closed, shaking a Magic 8 Ball as he writes the lineup card.

On Monday, its suggestion might have read: second base? 

The truth of the matter is that Semien was sent to Triple-A to get at-bats and work on his ability to play multiple positions.

The White Sox started Semien at short, second and third at different points this season, but were struggling to find enough at-bats for a player that they knew needed them to continue to develop.

Before joining with the Knights, Chicago brass had Semien pick up an outfielder’s glove and shag a few fly balls during batting practice.

“Just play around with it,” they said.

Once he arrived in Charlotte that became, “Give it a try.”

In 18 chances, Semien’s committed one error. On Monday, he made a nice over-the-shoulder running catch on a pop up down the line in shallow right to end the fifth and strand a runner.

Charlotte playing Boggle with Semien’s positioning hasn’t bothered the right-hander at the plate.

He came to the plate in the first inning on Monday with two outs and the bases empty. After working the count full – a feat in itself when you’re trying to give your pitcher time to catch his breath – Semien fouled off three pitches before hitting a home run on the ninth offering.

The long ball was Semien’s second since joining the Knights and put them up 1-0.

He finished 1-for-3 with a walk in support of Knights starter Deunte Heath, who allowed one hit and fanned seven over five innings to improve to 2-1.

The hit raised Semien’s average to .241. He’s been a victim of some tough luck, hitting several balls on the screws this home stand that have either hung up on the warning track or been right at a defender.

A perfect example came in Semien’s second at-bat on Monday, when he hit a ball equally as hard as the home run squarely at Columbus left fielder Tim Fedroff. Semien was out almost before he stepped out of the box.

The win for the Knights, who also recorded runs on a Micah Johnson two-out RBI single in the second, a Josh Phegley home run in the sixth and an Andy Wilkins single in the eighth, snapped a three-game losing streak.

As for where Semien will play tomorrow... Reply hazy ... Ask again later.

Notes: Knights manager Joel Skinner said that LHP Eric Surkamp is battling a bit of a hamstring issue and that the injury occurred during his last start. Skinner did not rule out a trip to the disabled list, but also mentioned that the Knights haven’t needed the roster spot. … Charlotte 1B Dan Black (rib strain) took “dry swings” today, according to Skinner. The next step is for Black to hit from a tee.