Othman makes most of an opportunity
from Bill Hass with Bill on Baseball(Greensboro Grasshoppers) at www.gsohoppers.com:
In order to compile a nice winning streak, contributions have to come from the entire roster.
Tuesday night, backup catcher Sharif Othman played a key role as the Hoppers topped Lakewood 6-3 for their sixth straight win. Othman had three hits, including a two-run homer. Asked when he last remembered having three hits in a game, he paused for a moment.
“Probably in college,” he said with a smile.
Players who aren’t in the lineup every day sometimes press when they get an opportunity to play. But Othman, the backup to Chad Wallach, said that isn’t the case with him.
“The cohesion on this team is so good that there’s no stress at all,” he said. “It felt good being able to come through tonight.”
Just being in one place for an extended period is a pleasure for Othman. He had a hectic season in 2013, playing for five different Marlins farm teams — Gulf Coast League, Batavia, Greensboro, Jupiter and Jacksonville. The only one he missed was Triple-A New Orleans.
“And it all happened within a month,” he said. “I didn’t have my clothes with me during that time. All I had was a travel bag. Now I’ve been able to settle in and not have to worry about travel.”
At age 25 and in his fourth year with the organization, Othman has seen enough different things at different levels that he can pass them along to the younger players.
“He’s a professional and it’s great to have him,” said manager David Berg. “He and Wallach both handle the pitchers well, they know how to call games and they come in the same way every day. They’re happy to be here.”
The pitcher Othman handled Tuesday was left-hander Jarlin Garcia, who pitched seven innings and allowed just three hits and one run to pick up his fourth win. It was his second straight strong performance, a consistency that has been lacking.
“It’s a growing process,” Othman said. “It’s good that he didn’t go backwards tonight. He commanded the ball in the zone. His curve ball worked well and made his fastball seem even faster.”
Pitching coach Jeremy Powell said Garcia is getting a better feel for the curve.
“He’s strong and has a good arm,” Powell said. “He had a good, live fastball tonight. He wasn’t perfect, and he got away with a few high pitches, but mostly he kept the ball in a good spot.”
Offensively, the Hoppers banged out 10 hits with all the scoring on long balls — three two-run homers. Carlos Lopez hit one in the first inning, Justin Bohn added another in the fifth and Othman smacked his in the eighth. The first two came off Lakewood starter Mark Leiter Jr. and the last off reliever Ulises Joaquin.
“He was throwing hard and I was late on the first swing,” Othman said. “I shortened up on the second swing but I was too short. I was on time for the last one. It’s a game of adjustments.”
NOTES: It was the second homer for Lopez and Othman and fourth for Bohn … Lopez went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to nine games, during which he has gone 22-for-38 and has two or more hits in eight games … Ramon del Orbe pitched a scoreless eighth and Sean Donatello was tagged for a two-run homer in the ninth … The teams play the final game of the series Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Matt Milroy will start for the Hoppers with Sean Townsley relieving in the piggyback tandem.