Minor league HR leader McPherson returns to majors - East Valley Tribune: Sports

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Minor league HR leader McPherson returns to majors

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Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 8:07 pm

MIAMI - The number that pops out in the stat line is 42 under the home run column.

Dallas McPherson is prouder of the digits under two other categories: 127 games and 448 at-bats.

For McPherson, everything from his minor league-leading 42 homers to the .618 slugging percentage to the 94 runs scored was a product of health.

"It's been a great season in those terms," said McPherson, who joined the Florida Marlins on Tuesday after a stellar offensive season at Triple-A Albuquerque. "To be able to make it through with no back problems and no major injuries has been a real blessing."

McPherson, 28, lost all of 2007 after undergoing back surgery. His rate of ascent through pro ball began to stall in 2005, when back spasms and left hip surgery limited him to 83 games. The back again was an issue in 2006.

It's easy to understand why McPherson doesn't get caught up in the homer total. It's not like he suddenly became a power hitter. Four seasons ago he hit 43 homers in a combined 561 at-bats with Double-A Arkansas, Triple-A Salt Lake City and the Angels.

This season, he averaged one every 10.7 at-bats compared to one every 13.0 in 2004.

"That's not a goal I set out to do at the beginning of the year," McPherson said of the homers. "Definitely I'm glad I was able to get back on the field and put up numbers that I was putting up before all the injuries."

McPherson's on-base and slugging percentages were on par with his career minor league figures entering the season. The one area he recognizes that needs work is the strikeout total. Before 2008, McPherson had struck out once every 3.4 at-bats during his minor league career. That figure worsened to once every 2.6 turns with the Isotopes.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn't plan to audition McPherson for a 2009 assignment. McPherson is on the 40-man roster and will remain under the team's control heading into the offseason. The left-handed-hitting McPherson is a good bet to vie for the starting first base or third base job.

In January, the Marlins signed McPherson to a split contract. He will earn the prorated share of $425,000 this month (about $63,000) after making $225,000 in the minors. Next season, McPherson's salary will remain slightly above the new $400,000 league minimum.

"The little time I spent with him, I loved the intensity," Gonzalez said. "I loved his makeup. I'm looking forward to having him here the next 30 days. ... What he showed me in spring training, I liked what I saw. He had a terrific year in Triple-A. I'm not looking for him to prove anything."

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