Warren finds the perfect spot for Dinter
It's not quite like the carefree days of T-ball, when an outfielder might pick dandelions to pass the time.
"Or chase butterflies," Ben Dinter said with a laugh.
And yet, there definitely is a different vibe in the outfield that Dinter, formerly a catcher and infielder, has come to fully appreciate.
Dinter is Warren's left fielder, his fourth different position in his three-year varsity career with the Blue Devils. While the senior certainly isn't falling asleep out there at his newest spot, he is more relaxed than he's ever been on a baseball field. And it's paying big dividends for him at the plate, where he has become Warren's best hitter.
"It's crazy how a change in position can change so many other things about your game," said Dinter, who has raised his batting average more than 200 points since last year, when he played catcher for the Blue Devils.
Dinter has also played second base and third base, and would let errors eat away at him, to the point where it compromised his hitting.
"I guess I never realized until this season how intense it can be playing in the infield," Dinter said. "You spend so much of your time taking ground balls, working on that more than probably anything else, and then when you make an error, it just stays with you.
"Now, out in the outfield, I am way more relaxed. I've got the time to take deep breaths and calm down if I need to. I really like that. I feel like my focus is so much better when I'm hitting. I feel so much more confident at the plate."
With a batting average that has been hovering around .500 all season (.494), Dinter is hitting better than he ever has, which has been vital to the success of the 20-win Blue Devils.
Of his 44 hits, 25 have gone for extra bases. He leads Warren in doubles (15), triples (5) and home runs (5). Dinter has also driven in 41 runs already. At Warren, no one has gotten more than 40 RBI in a season in nearly 10 years.
While there is no scientific evidence to prove that it is the change in position that has led to Dinter's improved offensive numbers, Warren coach Clint Smothers supports the theory, based on his own experiences.
"I played in the infield for three years in college and for one year, I went to the outfield and I'll tell you, it takes so much stress off you," Smothers said. "Every play is not a do-or-die situation. It gives you the chance to focus on other parts of your game.
"I think that's what happened for Ben. His hitting has been night and day from his previous years to this year. It could be the move to left field. Left field is probably his natural position anyway and we felt like we owed it to him for his senior year to get him out there."
Dinter had earned the debt of gratitude. He had always come through for the Blue Devils, after all. It wasn't him choosing to move from position to position over the years. He did so because the Blue Devils needed him to. There were holes in the lineup that needed to be filled.
"Ben's the kind of person who puts the team first and will do whatever you ask him if it's for the good of the team," said Smothers, who calls Dinter, a co-captain, one of the best senior leaders he's ever had. "He's played out of position for three years, but he didn't complain. He just did it.
"He's such a good athlete and he studies the game so much that it's easy for him to move around and adjust. So many kids think they should play just one position, like third base, and that's it. If you try to put them at second base, they don't know what to do. Ben's got that ability to play multiple positions. He's very versatile."
Dinter will take his well-rounded skills-set to the College of Lake County next year, with the hopes of eventually being picked up by a four-year university.
He's willing to put in the work to get there.
"I worked a lot this summer on my game, lifting, working on my hitting, and I really believe I can play at the college level if I keep working hard," Dinter said. "I'm not afraid to bust my butt. I try to do everything at 110 percent. Why do something if you don't do it at 110 percent?"
Dinter tries to live his life to the absolute fullest, too. There's something about spending weeks and weeks in a hospital bed when you're a kid that makes that a priority.
"When I was about 5, I had leukemia. I had it until I was about 8, for about three years," Dinter said. "I don't remember everything about it, but I remember being bald and sometimes spending a lot of nights in the hospital.
"I just know that I am fortunate to be alive right now. I think that's why I do everything hard and why I appreciate everything I get to do, especially with baseball."
Because he was sick, Dinter probably didn't get to do as much picking of dandelions or chasing of butterflies as the other T-ball players his age.
Good thing he's now in the perfect spot to make up for lost time.
• Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw