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Timberjack Salazar is top player

Oscar Salazar has never hit .300 in three previous professional baseball seasons.

The 20-year-old infielder from Venezuela all but assured himself of reaching that plateau for the first time last week with a torrid hitting performance that earned him Northwest League Hitter of the Week honors.

Salazar joins teammates Jason Hart and Jesus Basabe, who were accorded the honor earlier this season.

I've put in a lot of hard work and it paid off, Salazar said as teammate Donato Calandriello interpreted. I didn't know I was going to have such an explosive ending. I started slow and it picked up.

Salazar hit .471 (8-for-17), smacked four home runs, and drove in 11 runs in five games for the week ending Aug. 30. His slugging percentage in the span was 1.176 and his on-base percentage was .524. Heading into Tuesday's game, Salazar was hitting .323 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 96 at-bats spread over 26 games.

I've been getting a lot of curveballs and breaking stuff, he said.

Salazar signed with the Oakland organization on July 2, 1994, a week after turning 16. He played three seasons with the Dominican Athletics, hitting .299 with 12 home runs in 66 games last season. The 6-foot, 155-pound right-handed hitter models himself after Athletics' rookie shortstop Miguel Tejada.

I like the way he hustles and plays hard all the time, he said.