Veteran catcher Armando Camacaro celebrated his 29th birthday Sunday in truly grand fashion.
Not only did he help steer a young pitcher out of first-inning trouble as Frank Herrmann gave up five early runs but went on to earn the win in the Aeros 13-11 victory over host Harrisburg, Camacaro provided a majority of the offense as well.
Camacaro played a huge role in each of Akron's three four-run innings, recording an RBI-double in the second inning, a two-run home run in the third and a grand slam in the seventh.
When he came up to the plate with the bases loaded again in the eighth inning, he just missed, flying out to the warning track in deep right center field.
"I thought I might have gotten that one, too,'' Camacaro said with a wide grin.
By the end of the day, Camacaro had collected a career-high seven RBI as well as his first two homers on the season. Not bad for a guy who entered the season with just 18 career homers, inlcuding a career-high seven last year.
Having spent all 10 of his seasons with the Indians organization since signing as a free agent in 1998 out of Caracas, Venezuela, Camacaro is a rare minor-league gem. That fact that the Tribe has signed him to consecutive free-agent one-year deals the last three years tells you how much they really appreciate what he does - on the field and behind the scenes.
Camacaro never complains where he plays (he spent a majority of the season last year in Class-A Kinston despite spending all of 2005 in Akron) or when he plays (he's always been a backup to the higher-profile catchers in the organization), which means he usually only plays a full game one, maybe, twice, a week.
He's always friendly, works well with the pitching staff and recently has begun to show the progress he's made on focusing as much time into preparing offensively as he always has defensively.
This year, Camacaro is on the Tribe 40-man roster and was a spring training invitee.
"No matter how long it takes me, I want to play in the big leagues,'' he said.
Here's hoping he gets that chance at least once.