Tired of trying to prove himself in pitcher’s parks, Terry Tiffee embraced the chance to play in the Pacific Coast League this season after toiling in the International League for four years.
“That was one of the reasons I signed (a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers). I wanted to play in this league,” said Tiffee, who hit .272 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs last season for the IL’s Norfolk Tides, Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. “The IL is predominantly a pitcher’s league. I always heard this is a good hitter’s league.”
The move has paid immediate dividends for Tiffee, a third baseman who leads the league in hitting with a .560 average (14-for-25) after six games.
The 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound Tiffee tore it up Tuesday at Cashman Field, going 3-for-3 with a walk, two doubles and a decisive homer in the 51s’ 6-5 victory over Colorado Springs.
Tiffee, who bats third for Las Vegas, launched a double high off the wall in left in the first inning, drilled a double high off the wall in center in the third and cracked a towering solo shot over the right-field wall in the seventh to give the 51s a 6-5 lead.
“It’s nice to get going, but I really concentrate on how I’m hitting the ball rather than the results,” Tiffee said before the game. “If I’m hitting it solid consistently, the results will come. I’ve been hitting the ball pretty hard and putting together good at-bats.”
Tiffee, who also plays first base, has five doubles, six RBIs and seven runs scored.
“He’s off to a good start,” 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said. “He swung the bat real well the last four or five days of spring training and carried that into the start of the season.
“He and Big John (Lindsey, batting .375) have pretty much carried us.”
Tiffee, who hit .226 in 91 games in parts of three seasons (2004 to 2006) with the Minnesota Twins, entered this year with a .286 career average in the minors.
“He’s always been a solid Triple-A hitter,” Bundy said. “I guess the knock on him was his power numbers. He never had big home run numbers, and a lot of times teams are looking for corner power.”
Tiffee, 28, was born and raised in Arkansas and attended the same high school (Sylvan Hills) as Kevin McReynolds, the former Las Vegas Star and PCL Most Valuable Player.
A 26th-round pick of the Twins in 1999, Tiffee batted better than .300 in three of his first five professional seasons. He reached the majors for the first time with Minnesota in 2004 and had two hits in his debut, including a game-winning two-run double.
Tiffee was hoping to get a chance to play third base for the Dodgers when injuries left them short-handed at the position this spring, but Los Angeles handed the job to unproven Blake DeWitt, who skipped Triple A on his way to the majors.
“I thought I’d at least get a little more of a look at third base in camp,” Tiffee said. “(But) you kind of get used to getting overlooked for organizational players who come up with them.
“You’ve just got to play hard, put up numbers and hopefully, eventually, they’ll open their eyes and see and give you a look.”
Bundy said if Tiffee “continues to swing the bat like he is, hopefully he’ll get a shot.
“I think he can play up there. He can hit up there Somebody’s just got to give him a chance.”
• NOTE — Lindsey went 0-for-3 against the Sky Sox, ending his 27-game hitting streak.LAS VEGAS — 6
COLORADO SPRINGS — 5
KEY: Terry Tiffee went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a solo homer that gave the 51s a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning.
NEXT: 51s (Jason Johnson) vs. Sky Sox (John Koronka), 7:05 p.m. today, Cashman Field