Newest Dragon happy to be in a playoff chase

Dayton Dragons outfielder Jon Matthews is still getting used to the new scenery.

Not just the sights and sounds of Dayton after being promoted from Billings, but the view from near the top of the standings.

“To go from last place to in the (playoff) hunt is special,” Matthews said as he prepared to make his Dragons debut Monday night.

Dayton entered play a half game out of the final playoff spot in the Midwest League. Billings was stuck eight games out in the Pioneer League.

“I went from being out of it to right there,” Matthews said. “It would be cool to make the playoffs. The team is pretty excited about it.”

Matthews arrived in Dayton about a half hour before game time Sunday and got a chance to take in the atmosphere at Fifth Third Field.

“It was a busy day, but I am happy to be here,” Matthews said. “It was a good atmosphere. It was nice to see the team and how they play and to just relax and get some rest. Now, it is just a normal day.”

Matthews was hitting .292 at Billings with 22 stolen bases. He was slated to lead off for the Dragons Monday night.

“I felt really good (at Billings),” Matthews said. “I was running a good bit and swinging the bat well. I feel really good right now.”

Bunting Beau: Beau Amaral is never completely happy with his game, so over the past couple of weeks, he has been working on bunting for a hit.

“It is definitely a part of my game and I like to put pressure on the defense because I get down the line pretty good,” Amaral said. “Anything I can do to get on base for the team.”

Amaral is hitting .305 over the last 35 games to raise his average to .257.

“It (bunting) is definitely something I want to get better at,” Amaral said. “There are so many different aspects of the game that I am always trying to work on everything. I am never content… never satisfied with where I am.”

What a birthday: Jesse Winker’s 20th birthday is not one he will forget any time soon.

Winker, who turned 20 on Saturday, suffered a deep bone contusion and ankle sprain making a leaping catch against the wall in the second inning Saturday.

“All my weight came down on that foot,” said Winker, who is in a walking boot and using a crutch. “I am just thankful it wasn’t anything worse. It wasn’t the best of birthdays.”

Before the game, Phillip Ervin’s mother and aunts serenaded him with Happy Birthday outside the Dragons clubhouse and gave him a cake and cupcakes.

“That was so cool and I am so thankful,” Winker said. “He has a great family and it was cool I got to meet them.”

The cake quickly disappeared in the clubhouse.

“I couldn’t eat all that by myself,” Winker said. “It was a pretty nice day up until the injury.”

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