FIU's Wittels joins Oilers

Posted: Sunday, June 20, 2010

Like many summer visitors, Garrett Wittels has come to the Kenai Peninsula to get away from it all for a while and do some fishing.

In Wittels' case, "it all" is the 56-game hitting streak he put together for Florida International University this season. The streak, which Wittels will carry into next season, is the second-best in NCAA history. Next season, he has the chance to better or equal the 58-game streak set by Robin Ventura in 1987.

The streak put the spotlight of the national media squarely on Wittels, with appearances on ESPN and in Sports Illustrated.

He arrived in Kenai on Friday night and went 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI on Saturday in the Oilers' 5-1 victory over Athletes in Action. Oilers head coach Dennis Machado said he promised Wittels a week or so off from answering questions about the streak. Machado said Wittels is anxious to focus on baseball.

"I haven't really talked to him in depth about that," Machado said of the streak. "What I have talked to him about has been straight baseball -- signs, hitting, the team and strategy."

Machado said Wittels, who played third base on Saturday, got to the ballpark on Friday after most of the team was gone.

"He was out there in the cage hitting," Machado said. "It's kind of crazy to think he went from being in Florida 24 hours ago to hitting in the rain in Alaska."

Baseballs are not the only thing in danger of getting tagged by Wittels. Machado also said Wittels is looking forward to some world-class fishing.

"We've talked about that throughout this year," Machado said. "He's done his homework. I'm sure he's ready to attack the Kenai and Kasilof."

On the field, Machado said Wittels will fit in with the brand of baseball the Oilers are playing.

"I think he's really looking forward to playing with the guys," Machado said. "I think we have a solid product for people to come out and watch."

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