DAYTON — The title of hottest Dragons batter is a toss-up six games into the second half.
Is it Juan Perez, who has an 11-game hitting streak?
Is it Ryan Wright, who was 9-for-18 in the first five games?
Is it Juan Silva, who’s hitting .370 in June after hitting .205 in May?
Or maybe Junior Arias, who got his average over .200 with a recent 10-game hitting streak?
Perez, who was 1-for-5 with a double in a 10-3 victory over Lake County on Wednesday at Fifth Third Field, said it was only a matter of time before he started hitting. He hit .218 in April and .230 in May, but is hitting .309 in June.
“I was slumping for a little bit, but I knew I was going to come back and get hot,” Perez said. “I know my ability. I know my strength. It’s more of a mental thing than anything. You want to do so well. You want to move up. You try to do too much, but a lot of times in baseball, less is more.”
Wright sprained his wrist before the All-Star break and was slumping a bit. He’s still been Dayton’s best hitter and raised his average to .300 on Tuesday. He’s now at .299 after going 1-for-4 with two RBIs Wednesday.
“The all-star break was kind of good for me and bad for a lot of guys who were swinging it really well,” Wright said.
Numbers tell only part of the story. Manager Delino DeShields also judges players on how they do in situational hitting. Can they get in a runner from third with one out? Can they get a bunt down if asked?
“Those are the things that stand out to managers, especially at the higher levels,” DeShields said. “You have to play that game, the little game, the small game.
“It’s not about the average all the time. It’s something you get from paying attention and thinking about the game and thinking about situations and being mentally prepared.”
Soto in town
Reds Hall of Famer Mario Soto, a special assistant to Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty, was in town Tuesday and Wednesday. Soto at least got to see a win Wednesday. He’s had bad luck in Dayton with the Dragons.
“I was here last year for a week, and I don’t think we won a game,” Soto said. “The year before that, it was the same story. Me and Eric Davis were here two years ago, and there were a couple of times we left before the game was over.”
On the road
The Dragons begin a three-game series at South Bend tonight and then visit Bowling Green for three.
They are 4-3 against South Bend this season and 5-7 against Bowling Green, which swept them in the first series of the second half.
Six of the eight teams in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division started the second half 3-2.