By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — To paraphrase Michael Scott from “The Office,” Jake Cronenworth isn’t superstitious, but he is a little stitious.
In a sport where superstitions are common among its players, the Charlotte Stone Crabs shortstop is no different. Although his routines aren’t the craziest, he does have some very specific practices.
“I put all the left side stuff on first, like left sock and left shoe,” Cronenworth said. “If you don’t get a hit in the same batting gloves, you have to change them. Or change bats.”
Cronenworth, who will be participating in the Florida State League all-star game in Lakeland on Saturday, said he’s been getting dressed for sports that way almost his whole life, all the way back to when he was playing hockey in Michigan.
Manager Michael Johns never had any superstitions when he was a player, but is all for his players subscribing to them.
“I’m big on if you think it works, then it works,” Johns said. “You can trick your mind into thinking it works. There is something to change in the monotony.”
Apparently, it does work for Cronenworth, who was elected to his third all-star game as a professional baseball player. He was previously in the Midwest League (2016) and New York-Penn League (2015) as an all-star.
It’s an honor that doesn’t get tiring for the 23-year-old.
“It’s always fun to go and talk to the other guys in the league who go there,” Cronenworth said. “It’s kind of a culmination of all the hard work I’ve put in.”
Cronenworth earned the all-star nod by being possibly the best player in the league through the first month and a half of the season.
By the time April ended, Cronenworth had a .388 batting average to go with an astronomical .490 on-base percentage. He did that with 33 hits and 15 walks. He also scored 20 runs and stole four bases.
“At the beginning of the year he was swinging the bat unconsciously,” Johns said. “Every ball he was hitting was smoked.”
Although he’s cooled off a bit since that hot start to the season, his play glove has improved as the year progressed. But whether he’s performing the best on the team or not, he’s one of, if not the most important player on the Stone Crabs.
“I think he’s the glue (of the team),” Johns said. “Just his make-up, guys are going to naturally gravitate to him. He’s just a really good kid. He’s a baseball guy. He’s played a lot of different positions and he’s got a good feel for the game.”
Perhaps it’s only a matter of time until everyone on the Stone Crabs starts putting their left socks and shoes on first.