Grizzlies using speed as weapon in 2011

FRESNO, Calif.

"If it's one of our strengths that's what we're going to exploit," said Manager Steve Decker. "It's a lot of fun to manage when you have speed. But there's an old saying also you can't steal first base so we still gotta get on first base."

After leading the PCL in stolen bases last season, the Grizzlies lead all of minor league baseball in steals this season. Players say they've bought into Decker's aggressive mentality on the base paths.

"We look at our lineup and we've got a pretty athletic team, a team that can run pretty well," said infielder Emmanuel Burriss. "We're just going to push the envelope right along with him. If he wants us to run it's only going to help us."

Burriss is leading the charge so far with 12 steals, including a Fresno record four in one game April 8th.

"We take care of business whatever it is," said Burriss. "Whether it's getting guys in stealing position, getting guys in scoring position, we're just trying to make sure we score runs for our team. We have some guys that can hit. So we figure the more we're on base and the more we get guys in scoring position the better off we're going to be."

Decker says he's seen the Grizzlies' speed on base have a direct correlation to other hitters' success in the lineup.

"Pill hits a home run [as] a byproduct of them worrying about Graham running," said Decker. "Slide-step, throws a high fastball and whammo: Pill hits it out of the ballpark. That can be directly correlated to them worrying about Tyler Graham at first base."

Of course annual changes are sure to come for the Grizzlies. But fans may want to catch this group soon, before they run straight to the big leagues.

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