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'Nadoes hurlers trust in Trezza; Catcher works at, behind plate.

Byline: Chad Garner

WORCESTER - Worcester's Alex Trezza isn't worried one bit that he only hit .217 in the first half of the Can-Am League season.

What's important for the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Trezza is driving in runs from the cleanup spot and being rock-solid defensively behind the plate.

"Everyone else talks about (batting average), but I really don't look at that. I look at production," said Trezza, whose team beat Brockton, 11-10, last night at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. "Average will take care of itself. It's such a long season, there's no reason to talk about it, but I understand.

"I'm in the middle of the lineup to produce - RBIs and runs scored, stuff like that," he continued. "The way I look at it is every night you go hit .300 and every next at-bat is the most important at-bat."

Worcester pounded out 12 hits, led by Francisco Caraballo, who was 3 for 5 with 5 RBIs. He finished a single shy of the cycle. First baseman Chris Colabello went 3 for 4 with a solo homer in the fifth inning.

Junior Guerrero allowed seven earned runs in six innings for the win. Closer John Birtwell stranded the tying and go-ahead runs on base to earn the save.

Leominster's John Kelly took his league-leading 1.46 ERA into the game, but was cuffed around by the Tornadoes. Kelly lasted only 4-1/3 innings, allowing eight earned runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He also surrendered two homers. It was the first time in Kelly's 10 starts that he's allowed more than three earned runs in a game and the most runs he's given up in a game in three years.

The left-handed hitting Trezza, who doubled, walked twice and scored two runs last night, started the season with a bang. He cranked three home runs in the first six games but went into an average-killing slump.

"I had a 1-for-30 or something in there not too far into the season," said Trezza, who is tied for second on the team in home runs (7), third in RBIs (31) and first in walks (26).

But there's a lot more to his job title as a catcher than just hitting.

Trezza, drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 18th round in 2001, does all the little things needed - blocking balls in the dirt, throwing base runners out and calling a solid game - to be a top-of-the-line backstop in the league. He's only committed one error on the year.

Obviously, the pitchers on the staff appreciated what Trezza does behind the plate.

"What Alex brings is everything. He brings whatever he has every day," said Birtwell, a 30th-round pick of the Tigers in 2001 who roomed with Trezza in short-season A ball in Oneonta, N. Y. "And that's all you can really ask of anybody. The sad part about that is it's not an easy thing to do, especially like catching where it's a pretty grueling position.

"Win, lose or draw you know that he's going to go as hard, if not harder for you than any other guy you have back there," Birtwell continued. "That in itself breeds confidence in pitchers because of the trust. You know he's going to be working for you and he's on your side. He bring a work ethic, he's always working."

As a pitcher, being able to trust your catcher is a vital part of the game. It's also something Trezza takes great pride in.

"I have a real good relationship with all the pitchers on the team," Trezza said. "I've always had that with all the pitchers I've had. I think they trust me and I trust them. Sometimes we might not be sure what to do, but both of us together can figure it out. Just being close to them and knowing their personalities ... you might have to get on someone a little more or you might have to pat someone on the back."

Trezza, who played in all 47 games in the first half of the season, is suffering from an undisclosed back injury, but he received treatment before last night's game and was in the starting lineup hitting cleanup and catching.

"I think he's a tough kid. He's been banged and dinged, but he keeps showing up," Worcester manager Rich Gedman said. "He's been a workhorse. I think we're lucky to have him. I'm glad we have him and he's not playing for someone else."

NAME: WORCESTER TORNADOES

ART: PHOTO

PHOTOG: T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON

CUTLINE: Worcester's Francisco Carabello is congratulated by Alex Trezza (14) and Chris Colabello (20) after hitting a home run.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 15, 2008
Words:778
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