When it comes to playing baseball, Jason Fernandez has been an under the radar kind of player.

That doesn't bother the Kane County Cougars" right-hander, as he feels that it makes him hungry for even more. And given the results he's had in his pro career, it seems to be working for him.

But if Fernandez keeps doing what he has been doing with the Cougars this season, he will have to find another way to keep himself motivated. Almost an afterthought to start the season, he became one of the most versatile arms on the pitching staff, and now gets the ball every five days as a member of the starting rotation.

The road here wasn't easy. Barely seeing the mound over the first month of the season -- along with the team's tough start -- made April a difficult time for the 22-year-old Fernandez.

"It was frustrating, nobody wants to come into a game when we are losing 10-0 or winning 10-0, nobody wants to be the clean-up guy," he said. "I didn't know what my role was. But my teammates helped me get through it and told me to just be patient."

The opportunities started coming, and he began to take advantage of them. He earned two wins and a save in a three-week period in late April and early May, and in seven May appearances he was 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA.

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By MIKE KNAPP