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Sports

Heath aims for more consistency
Knights reliever eyes big league call
 
Published Thursday, April 10, 2014 7:04 am
by Herbert L White

Deunte Heath likes the Charlotte Knights’ new ballpark, but he’s anxious to leave town.

The right-handed pitcher has a short-term goal: earn a call up to the major league Chicago White Sox, the Knights’ parent club. 

“Not to be here long,” Heath said of his plans. “Enjoy while I’m here – that’s the goal.”

To get to the majors, Heath, 28, will have to be more consistent. He was plenty good in Charlotte last year with a 2.20 earned run average over 30 games, but struggled with control in spring training with the White Sox, going 0-2 with a 4.76 earned run average, which landed him with the Knights to start the regular season. In a brief stint last year with the Sox, Heath (6-4, 240 pounds) appeared in five regular season games for the White Sox last season, posting an 11.74 ERA while walking 12 over 7 2/3 innings.

“Just being consistent whenever I get the call to go into the game” is the key to success, he said. “Whether that’s being consistent with the fastball, slider, changeup, just be consistently down in the (strike) zone.”

Heath is hoping a change of scenery will be good for his consistency. BB&T Ballpark, which opens on Friday when the Knights take on Norfolk, has a right field wall only 315 feet from home plate. Any success there will be earned, but Heath likes the stadium.

“It’s a great thing when something’s new,” Heath said. “New is always good, so it’s a great change of scenery and we’re fortunate to be in downtown Charlotte.”

Especially when more people are likely to show up for games. When the Knights were playing in Fort Mill, S.C., they were near the bottom in International League attendance with less than 4,000 fans per date last year. More than 4,000 permanent seats have been sold for the 2014 campaign in Charlotte.

“Nothing against Fort Mill, because it had a great playing surface, but here you’ll have more fans,” Heath said. That’s the biggest thing.”

Next to impressing the White Sox, of course. To do that, Heath will have to return to last year’s minor league form in order to get a call to Chicago for what he hopes will be a long-term stay. He’s responded early in the season with a 0.00 ERA over four innings of relief.

“It all goes back to being consistent on a daily basis,” Heath said. “I had a good year last year, but I’d like to build off that and go from there, see where it takes me.”

 

 

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