Kent Matthes just wanted to get on a field again. Now that he's overcome that hurdle, he's looking for a little bit more. He found it Friday afternoon.
The Rockies prospect homered, doubled twice and drove in four runs out of the cleanup spot to lead Salt River past Peoria, 8-7, in Arizona Fall League action. The 3-for-4 effort marked the outfielder's highs for hits and extra-base hits during his 11-game stay with the Rafters and was the first time he had totaled four RBIs in any game since July 10 for Double-A Tulsa.
"I haven't gotten too many hits while I've been down here before tonight," said Matthes, who began the game batting .256 and finished with a .302 average. "But I've been fine with my swing and how it's felt. I just hadn't put the barrel on the bat as much I'd like. But today, the hits found some holes when some guys were on base, and I was able to bring them in, which is always a good feeling."
When Matthes began the AFL season Oct. 9, it was his first time seeing action since an oblique strain forced him out of competition on July 29. The injury kept him from participating in the Texas League playoffs with the Drillers, who bowed out in the semifinals to eventual champion Springfield, and from the World Baseball Classic qualifying rounds with Germany.
It was a bitter ending to what was already a tough-to-swallow season for the 25-year-old.
He struggled early in the year after straining a groin two days before Spring Training, an injury that lingered for the majority of the first half of the season where he put together a .191/.251/.364/.615 batting line for Tulsa. The numbers picked up to the tune of .259/.315/.560/.875 during the second half before the oblique injury.
But now that the 2011 California League MVP is back healthy with a bat in his hand, he's looking to do the most with his chance.
"It's great to be here," he said. "Ask anyone who's ever been hurt. It's really tough to just sit there and watch and do nothing. That's not the case anymore, thankfully."
With his health and results returning, the focus will eventually turn to making sure they're both maintained when the regular season starts up again in 2013.
"For me personally, this is just good for me going into the offseason," Matthes said. "I haven't been fully healthy either of the last two offseasons, so I'm looking forward to being able to take advantage of that this time. I'll get to work on myself physically, my nutrition, whatever particular program the Rockies want me on. Whatever I can do to get me to play 140, 150 games next year, that's what I'll be working on."
Catcher Sean Ochinko (Blue Jays) went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Rafters, who improved to 8-7 on the AFL season with the victory.
Mariners' No. 8 prospect Vinnie Catricala hit his first Fall League homer and led the Javelinas (11-5) with three RBIs in a losing effort. Reds' top prospect Billy Hamilton also went deep for the first time during his time in Arizona.