JOHNSON CITY — Forgive the Kingsport Mets if their biological clocks still are adjusting to the Appalachian League schedule after the brutal regimen of extended spring training.
The timing of K-Mets third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez’s swing, however?
The 6-foot-3 second-year pro swatted two home runs, his teammates seized upon some miscues by the Johnson City Cardinals and the K-Mets tallied an 8-5 victory in a mutual Appy opener.
Rodriguez, who batted third in the lineup, knocked the second pitch he saw from Hector Hernandez over the wall in right. Rodriguez deposited the first pitch of the next at-bat into the basket atop the high wall in left to lead off the fourth inning.
Actually, the hardest-hit ball by Rodriguez might have come in the fifth, but it was a flyout to center — the deepest part of Cardinal Park.
“That’s how baseball works,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter. “Sometimes you hit the ball harder and it’s an out. Sometimes you hit it weaker and it’s a base hit or a home run.”
Rodriguez and the current K-Mets who joined him in the Gulf Coast League are adjusting to playing night games for the first time in a while. The GCL plays its contests in the afternoon, and that’s also the standard start time for games in extended spring training, where the returning pro players spent about 10 weeks before arriving in Kingsport on Sunday.
Extended spring training is, in a word, tough. Players report at 7 a.m. every day and play games at noon, in the withering heat and humidity of Florida.
“Most of those guys (in the lineup) hadn’t been under the lights,” Kingsport manager Mike DiFelice said.
Rodriguez, for his part, prefers the new schedule because it allows the entire day to prepare body and mind for that evening’s game.
K-Mets hurler Gonzalez Germen appeared rather well prepared for the task of being the opening-night starter. Germen (1-0) lasted into the sixth inning, yielding two runs — one earned — on three hits and three walks.
He also got plenty of run support.
Rodriguez’s second homer cued a five-run fourth inning. The dinger also was the sole earned run in the frame; two Cardinal errors prolonged the inning.
Johnson City got back into it with five combined runs between the fifth and eighth innings, but a solo homer by K-Mets first baseman Travis Ozga and an RBI double by ZeErika McQueen pushed the margin to more comfortable territory.
“Early on, we couldn’t put anything together but we stayed with it and put the pressure on them and gave ourselves a chance,” Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt said. “It was a one-run game in the eighth; that’s all you can ask.”
Rodriguez finished with three hits. Ozga and McQueen added two each. Michael Weldon, the sole 2010 draft pick to play in the opener for the K-Mets, worked a scoreless ninth to tally the save.
Chris Edmondson belted a solo homer as part of a two-hit, two-run night for the Cards.
The teams renew their season-opening series tonight at Cardinal Park. First pitch is set for 7:20 p.m. — rather than the usual 7 p.m. start time — because of a pregame concert.
The Cardinals and Mets head to Hunter Wright Stadium on Thursday for Kingsport’s home opener. There will be fireworks after the game.