Ceciliani Rolling With The Punches

Ceciliani Rolling With The Punches

BINGHAMTON, NY - Darrell Ceciliani has been playing some fierce baseball for the Binghamton Mets, and although he has been slumping, it is merely a slight dip in an otherwise excellent season. After returning from a season ending injury last year and rising from A-ball to Double-A, Ceciliani has shown that he can always roll with the punches.

Last season Ceciliani only played 23 games in the Florida State League before pulling his hamstring and being forced to sit out for the rest of the season.

This might have been discouraging to another player just getting started, but Ceciliani and pulled hamstrings were old acquaintances. This latest tear was the 4th one of the year and the one that put him out of the game. However, he never let it stop him.

"Ever since I pulled my hammy I've been doing everything to make sure it doesn't happen again," Ceciliani pledged. "I'm strengthening my glutes, hip flexors, hips, quads, everywhere around the hamstring."

Despite only playing 23 games, Ceciliani was able to garner enough attention through solid play to get a shot at Double-A ball. His transition has gone smoother than most as Ceciliani noted some of the differences between the leagues and has made the proper adjustments.

"[In the Eastern League] the pitching is better and more consistent; they have a game plan and able to execute it more often than down in the lower levels," Ceciliani said. "They stick with their game plan until you make an adjustment or you burn them on it, then after that they change. It's more of a cat and mouse game."

Ceciliani has played both cat and mouse this season. In late July, the young center fielder was hitting just below .400 and making pitchers pay for every mistake. However, he is currently playing the mouse, as gets back to work in the cages. Success in Double-A comes down to extremely hard work and dedication and Ceciliani is proficient in both, according to hitting coach Luis Natera.

"This has been a great year for Darrell. In the past, injuries have been an issue for him but he's been able to stay healthy this year," Natera remarked. "Darrell's been doing a great job and has great work habits; it's what's made him have success. While early on he's struggled some he really turned it around and of late despite some difficulty he's still working extremely hard."

Ceciliani has been putting work in all year and has adjusted his swing to the new league.

"I'm trying to shorten up my swing to get to the ball quicker. Basically short to it, long through it. I was swinging long for a while, casting my hands, so I've tried to cut that out and just stay shorter and more compact through the zone. It's all about finding holes and green grass," Ceciliani laughed.

Defensively, Ceciliani has lost none of his punch. A lifetime centerfielder, Ceciliani has been playing a bit in left, and like many young players, he relished the opportunity to diversify and expand upon his talents.

"It's another learning process that I don't take for granted," Ceciliani began. "I'm glad they want me to take on another position, so that if I do get that call I'll be more useful and not just one dimensional.

"I'm getting more comfortable and while it is tougher to get reads at times I've played there for more than half the year and I'm starting to get more relaxed out there."

Always a fighter and a student of the game, Ceciliani has stated that he is just trying to go out and battle every day, embrace the process and the grind as he is constantly trying to get better.

Both coach Luis Natera and Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez have a lot of faith in the youngster and are confident in the season that he's been having. Although the decision to promote a player is left to corporate, Lopez believes that Ceciliani has the chops to get promoted again.

"I think he deserves a chance to go up, but it's not up to us to make that decision. Definitely the main thing is to stay healthy, have a good year and hopefully get a promotion to Triple-A," Lopez said.

Ceciliani is battling every day and growing ever stronger as he distances himself from his past injuries and focuses on the upcoming playoffs.

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