Cirillo begins ninth pro season

BURBANK -- It was a strange 2002 season for major-league- baseball

player Jeff Cirillo.

Although the former Providence High star enjoyed his finest season

as a pro at third base, Cirillo’s offensive numbers dipped and he had


one of his worst hitting seasons of his career.

With the 2003 campaign getting underway Tuesday, Cirillo, 33, is

likely looking to put it all together this season, and hopefully lead

the Seattle Mariners to the World Series.


Cirillo provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base last

season, but was overlooked for the fielding award, as it went instead

to the Oakland Athletics’ Eric Chavez. Cirillo led American League

third basemen with a .973 fielding percentage and had nine errors in

338 total chances.

In April, he tied the major-league baseball record for consecutive

games played at third base without an error (99), sharing the feat

with John Wehner. However, he committed a fielding error on April 20


against the Texas Rangers to snap the streak.

Cirillo also finished just three chances shy of matching the

all-time record for most consecutive errorless chances by a third

baseman -- 261 from 1974 to 1975 by the Phillies’ Don Money.

A player who has hasn’t been slowed much by injuries throughout

his nine-year career, Cirillo suffered through some nagging problems

last season.

He missed two games in April after being hit in ear by a batted


ball during batting practice. The cut required three stitches. Along

with having to leave a game in May with a bruised right triceps

muscle after getting hit by pitch, he also jammed his ankle during a

game in August.

The injuries probably didn’t help Cirillo’s production at the

plate -- he had an 0-for-22 stretch in July -- as he batted .249 with

121 hits, 54 runs batted in, 31 walks, 20 doubles and six home runs

in 146 games.

It was his lowest average since his 1994 rookie season when he hit

.238 in 39 games.

The previous four seasons, Cirillo averaged .321 a year.

On the positive side, Cirillo tied for second in the league in

with 13 sacrifice bunts and was eighth with nine sacrifice flies.

Cirillo -- who was a standout pitcher at USC -- was a CIF Southern

Section Small Schools Player of the Year at Providence in 1986 and

1987. He helped lead the Pioneers to a Small Schools championship in