Hoomanawanui ready to pitch in

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- It's probably best if Michael Hoomanawanui sticks to his day job.

Throwing out the first pitch at Tuesday night's Pawtucket Red Sox game against the Charlotte Knights, the fourth-year tight end one-hopped the ball to the catcher, drawing some friendly jeers from the crowd on the beautiful early summer evening.

"Not too many baseballs around Gillette Stadium," Hoomanawanui cracked.

But it turns out that Hoomanwanaui is in a good spot at his day job. With top tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez dealing with injuries this offseason, Hoomanawanui is in a prime position to contribute.

"This offseason is huge for me," Hoomanawanui said prior to the game. "Just being able to pick up the little things of the offense and everyday life."

The beginning of last September was a whirlwind for the Illinois product, who was cut by the St. Louis Rams, added to the Washington Redskins' practice squad and signed to the Patriots' 53-man roster within a span of a few days. Yet when injuries hit Hernandez and, later, Gronkowski, Hoomanawanui emerged within the offense.

"You just worry about yourself and bettering yourself because some guys are either an injury away from playing, as was my case last year, with those guys," Hoomanwanui said. "Going from playing a couple plays here and there to starting at the end of the season. That's your profession at the end of the day, is to be ready when your number is called."

Hernandez saw an increased but still limited workload during Tuesday's organized team activity, while Gronkowski was not spotted during the session.

"He's just getting ready," Hoomanawanui said. "He's focused on getting better."

Hoomanawanui arrived at McCoy Stadium on Tuesday evening with bandages on his nose and thumb, leading one reporter to ask if he ever considered playing baseball instead.

"Sometimes when these guys get paid like they do, I second guess myself," he joked.