Third baseman Wes Hodges has been the Aeros most consistent offensive player through the first half of the season.
Batting .311 with a league-leading 62 RBI as Akron's cleanup man, he has been instrumental in the team's ability to bounce back from a rocky start that had them mired in the unfamiliar territory of last place in late April.
Now having improved to a more respectable 48-31 nearly mid-way through the season, the Aeros entered Saturday's game with visiting Reading owning a 3.5 game-lead in the Eastern League Southern Division.
But recently there's one more thing Hodges, the Indians 2006 second-round pick whom Baseball America ranks as the club's No. 4 prospect, has been doing consistently as of late: committing errors.
With no intention to nit-pick a player having an otherwise phenomenal first half, Hodges' 15 errors ties him for the team lead with shortstop Josh Rodriguez.
But it's not the total number of miscues that's worrisome. Instead, it's Hodges' recent spate of them - five over the last four games, including two in Friday's 16-6 rout of the Phillies.
To many of those watching him on a nightly basis, Hodges' recent defensive struggles at the hot corner reeks of a tired player in desperate need of a day or two off.
"Yeah, he could use a day," Aeros manager Mike Sarbaugh said. "But I want to give him a full day off without taking any (batting practice) or pre-game work, so he'll probably get his day (Sunday).''
Part of the problem is that the Aeros don't have another player on the roster able to fill in at third (without playing out of position) now that the versatile Chris Gimenez has been promoted to Triple-A Buffalo and utility infielder Brandon Chaves has been out of the lineup since June 22 while nursing a thumb injury.
At the same time, Sarbaugh said Hodges' development as a young player plays into the equation as well.
"A part of Wes's development is playing everyday,'' Sarbaugh said. "Learning how to play through periods when maybe you are feeling tired is important because it's party of mentally preparing yourself for the game.''
Still, the mid-July All-Star break can't come soon enough for Hodges. That is if he isn't playing in it.
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