Shayne Houck isn't cooling off for GreenJackets

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Through 28 games, the Augusta GreenJackets have experienced the highs and lows of random variation in baseball. For one GreenJackets hitter, regression to the mean has yet to take its toll.

Infielder Shayne Houck began the week hitting .361 with a .426 on-base percentage, both first on the team in 68 plate appearances.

The 29th-round draft pick in 2012 went 3 for 4 with a walk and two RBI in Saturday’s 11-9 Augusta win, including the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning.

“Houck has some big hits for us the last couple days,” manager Mike Goff said. “He just has a nice swing, and he has a good approach. When you keep him out of the pull mode, he’s OK.”

Houck has 13 hits in his past 10 games, adding one double, five walks and five RBI. He is also showing versatility in the field, playing six games at first base in the absence of Joe Rapp, and one game at third base, his position at the beginning of the season.

It normally takes nearly a full season of plate appearances for on-base percentage to stabilize, meaning Houck’s on-base ability could go in any direction over the course of the year.

But his approach and swing are currently in rhythm, and the GreenJackets are reaping the benefits.

They are also reaping the benefits of Houck’s .449 batting average on balls in play. The stat indicates whether more balls in play are finding holes for hits, or if a batter is running into bad luck by hitting balls at fielders. Houck’s line drives are finding holes, leading to a high BABIP and, as a result, good on-base numbers.

SIM HEATING UP: Catcher Eric Sim had the best game of his season so far in Saturday’s win, going 3 for 5 with two RBI. Sim has four hits in his past 11 at-bats, recording a home run and three RBI.

The recent surge put his batting average over .200 for the season.

Goff, who managed Sim in the Arizona League two years ago, knows the catcher’s swing well.

“He swung the bat very well (in Arizona),” Goff said. “We’re just trying to get him back to where he was at that point, get him back in right-center field, get him away from pulling everything, and allow himself to see the ball longer, which is something that he hadn’t been doing all season. We’re just trying to get him back in that mode where he’s trusting himself in what he’s doing, keeping his hands inside the ball, thinking right-center field, keeping him on the ball longer, and hopefully allow him to recognize balls in the dirt and not swing at them.”

GALINDO PULLED: Center fielder Jesus Galindo was pulled from Saturday’s messy game with tightness in his legs, but Goff said it was precautionary.

Goff said Galindo experienced tightness early in the game, which included a 40-minute rain delay and showers through the first few innings. During the Venezuelan’s third at-bat, he ran to first and began walking gingerly, resulting in him being pulled.

Goff said he expected Galindo to be OK after Sunday.

The center fielder has 15 stolen bases this season while batting .263 with a .346 on-base percentage entering the week.


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