Class AA Arkansas refugee Billy Deck is a bit of a walking contradiction these days.

Contradiction number one: He wishes he had gotten more than 33 at-bats at Arkansas, but he's grateful for his four starts in nine days with the Cannons -- two at first base, one in right field and one in left field.

"Baseball's a game you have to play a lot," Deck said. "It's not something you can play once a week. I have an opportunity here, so I'm happy."

Contradiction number two: The Potomac High School graduate finds some solace in being back home, but with that comfort can come distractions.

"It helps out because you know people and you know the area," said Deck, who hit .239 last year in Prince William. "That's a big thing when you're going to a new town, like when I went to Little Rock, just adjusting and everything. But it also has its bad points. There are definitely people around who you know and they're always wanting some of your time and that's tough, too. Sometimes you just need to sit down and think about what you did wrong and things like that."

Contradiction number three: Being a third-round draft pick, in 1995, is an asset because it means the St. Louis organization has made a greater investment in Deck, 22, than in most of its players. But being a lofty draft pick makes his malnourished batting average -- .190 headed into last night -- stick out even more.

"It sounds bad, but it's true: The more money that you have invested in you, the more opportunities you're going to get," Deck said. "That's only natural. If you pay some kid a million dollars, and give another kid a thousand dollars, who's going to be more important to you?"

Deck, sent to Class AA after a promising spring training, has a hit in each game he's played since reporting to the Cannons at the beginning of the month, including a three-run double in a 9-5 win Friday night at Lynchburg.

Mound on the Rebound

Three previously injured or slumping pitchers enjoyed successful outings this week, giving the Cannons hope for a run at the second-half North Division title.

On Friday night at Lynchburg, left-hander Jason Navarro (4-7) picked up his first win since May 5, even though he allowed 11 hits in 6B innings. He had dropped six consecutive decisions.

In relief of Navarro, Jose DeLeon pitched two shutout innings, his third scoreless appearance since giving up five runs in less than an inning June 6 against Salem. DeLeon has an 8.22 earned run average with 24 walks and 17 strikeouts.

Right-hander Britt Reames threw six scoreless innings Thursday night at Lynchburg in his first start since April 22. He had been out with recurring elbow problems.

Potomac has allowed a league-high 235 walks while striking out a league-low 399 batters and posting a league-high 4.81 ERA.

Hit Parade

Headed into last night's game, designated hitter Andy Bevins had hits in eight consecutive at-bats to raise his team-leading batting average 25 points to .314. Five of those eight hits were doubles. The Carolina League record for consecutive hits is 12 set in 1958 by Kenneth Kuhn. Bevins, 23, one of Potomac's two all-stars, ranks among Carolina League leaders in eight offensive categories.

CAPTION: Cannons' Billy Deck, a Potomac High School graduate, is averaging .190 in 21 at-bats. He hit .239 for Cannons last year.