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Tiffee still well above average

His timing at the plate has been impeccable this season, but when it comes to securing a spot in the big leagues, 51s third baseman Terry Tiffee’s timing has been off.

Despite leading the Pacific Coast League with a .422 average when he was promoted to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 25, Tiffee was 1-for-4, all as a pinch hitter, while appearing in six games.

The 29-year-old, who plays first base, third base and the outfield, was designated for assignment June 8 and cleared waivers before rejoining Las Vegas on June 12.

The demotion has hardly dimmed Tiffee’s statistics. He leads the leads PCL with a .393 average, 120 hits and 32 doubles and was recently named to the All-Star team. He has a .293 career average in nine minor league seasons.

"Terry Tiffee can hit. It’s just a matter of finding that right place at the right time," 51s manager Lorenzo Bundy said. "For whatever reason, he didn’t get (many) plate appearances (with the Dodgers). That’s up to the guy who runs the ballclub, and I’m not telling (Dodgers manager) Joe Torre how to do his job."

In 91 games for the Minnesota Twins from 2004 to 2006, Tiffee hit .226 (54-for-239).

Despite not sticking with the Dodgers, he said, "I’m never disappointed at this point in my career to get called up."

"You never know if it will happen again or not, so you take every chance you can get," Tiffee said Tuesday, when he went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the 51s’ 9-4 victory over Tucson. "I didn’t really get an opportunity to do much, but I tried to help the team as much as I could."

Tiffee is as locked in as ever at the plate. He has hit safely in 62 of 73 games for Las Vegas and had his fifth four-hit game of the season Monday, including a two-run homer.

Besides switching to the PCL after batting .272 last season with Triple-A Norfolk of the International League, Tiffee credits a fresh approach for his hot hitting.

"I’m thinking a little bit more at the plate instead of just going up there and hacking, and I’m maturing a little bit more as a player," he said.

One reason the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound Tiffee cleared waivers, Bundy said, is his lack of power. He has seven homers this season and his career high is 14 in Double A in 2003.

"He’s a big guy, but not really a power hitter. I think there’s a lot more power there," Bundy said. "I don’t think it would hurt him if instead of hitting .380 or .390, he’s hitting .330 with 20 homers. That might open up somebody’s eyes."

Tiffee hasn’t given up on getting back to the majors, saying, "Hopefully, eventually, I’ll get a chance to stay there."

• NOTES — Dodgers right-hander Jason Schmidt made his third rehabilitation start for Las Vegas as he continues his comeback from career-threatening shoulder surgery. Schmidt, 35, gave up two earned runs on five hits in four innings, walked one and struck out two. He was scheduled to throw 65 pitches, but came out after 59 (36 strikes) and reached 90 mph for his third straight start. … 51s catcher A.J. Ellis was named a reserve for the PCL All-Star team. He is batting .299 with 38 RBIs in 50 games.

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