Craig Stansberry has skills that helped win College World Series
by: DENISE FARWELL, Bevo second baseman Craig Stansberry meets Fresno’s Justin Knoedler in the game at PGE Park on Sunday.

Craig Stansberry likes the idea of being the answer to a trivia question someday. Question: 'Who's the only major-league player ever to be born in Saudi Arabia?'

Answer (someday): Stansberry was born in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, but his parents moved back to the United States one month later.

He grew up in Plano, Texas, and attended Rice University and won the College World Series with the Owls. Today, he finds himself living in Portland, playing infield for the Triple-A Beavers and hoping to impress the parent San Diego Padres or another club.

Stansberry has to get to the major leagues first, before anybody can try to stump their friend with the obscure Saudi Arabia reference.

Stansberry hit safely in his first seven games with the Bevos, and then had three base knocks Friday and Saturday in his first appearances at PGE Park.

'I'm not a fast starter, traditionally,' says Stansberry, whom the Padres claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates. 'Early in the season, who knows what's going to happen?

'I'm just trying to have good at-bats, battle the pitcher, swing at strikes and not balls.'

The Padres built the 2007 Bevo roster around young pitchers and veteran position players like Stansberry, 25. He played four years in the Pirate organization, reaching Triple-A Indianapolis last season and hitting .223 in 60 games.

He has shown some power and some speed - 28 homers in 188 games at Class AA Altoona, averaging 20 steals the past three seasons. Although he played third base at Class A Williamsport in 2003, Stansberry has exclusively played second base since then.

'He does three things well - he catches the ball, makes contact and runs,' Bevo skipper Rick Renteria, a former middle infielder himself, says.

'He's got to be able to stay solid defensively, and give you good at-bats.'

Renteria preaches effort and approach, saying that consistency means everything to big-league clubs, especially with unheralded players.

Stansberry hasn't been much of a utility player in his career, yet, and most big-league clubs look for versatility. 'For whatever team, they're looking to fit their needs,' Stansberry says. 'The more you can do, more they can say, 'We can plug him in here and there.' '

The Bevos don't possess much power outside of cleanup hitter Jack Cust.

However, Stansberry has watched hitters for the past two weeks and says: 'We're going to hit the ball well. … At the beginning of the season it can be hit or miss, and you have to ride it out.'

Stansberry had a reunion of sorts this season, as he and outfielder Vince Sinisi both played on the 2003 Rice team that won the College World Series. He has noticed only one former teammate in the big leagues - David Aardsma with the Chicago White Sox - but several of them play in the minor leagues.

It's what faces members of the 2006 OSU championship team, too - it ain't easy getting to big leagues; it's the pros now.

'It's in the past,' Stansberry says, for he and Sinisi. 'We don't sit back and tell old stories.'

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Portland Beavers

Next up: The Bevos finish their first homestand with night games through Friday with Sacramento, and then travel to Colorado Springs and Tucson for a four-game series.

Pitching prospect Cesar Carrillo looks to rebound in his third scheduled start, Wednesday against Sacramento. Carrillo gave up nine runs on nine hits in three innings of work in last Friday's home opener. 'He didn't have the same life to his pitches,' Renteria says, comparing Carrillo's second outing to his first. 'He didn't command his fastball, and you got to establish your fastball for other (pitches) to work.' … Justin Germano, meanwhile, has a 2-0 record and a 0.75 ERA. He's been impressive changing speeds and working both sides of the plate, Renteria says. … Pitchers Jack Cassel and Tim Stauffer have been roughed up as well. … The ball has been rocketing off Jack Cust's bat lately. Cust, who went 0-for-17 to start the season, hit safely in the next six.

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