April 2012

April 21 Isotopes Game Notes

April 21 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Isotopes:  LHP Michael Antonini (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
RedHawks:  RHP Aneury Rodriguez (1-1, 3.68 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-21-12_Notes

Becker Reassigned to Rancho Cucamonga (A), Zawadzki to Albuquerque

The Albuquerque Isotopes have received their first roster transaction of the opening homestand, as infielder Joe Becker was transferred to Rancho Cucamonga (A) and replaced by infielder Lance Zawadzki from Extended Spring Training. The roster move was officially announced Friday afternoon (4/20/12) and Zawadzki will dress for the ‘Topes game tonight against the Iowa Cubs.

Becker, 26, had appeared in six games with Albuquerque this year, batting .126 (2×11) with a run and four RBI. The infielder collected one of his run-scoring hits last night when he delivered a pinch-hit single that ultimately drove in the winning run against the I-Cubs.

Becker was originally signed as a non-drafted free against by the Dodgers in 2007. He’s made appearances in the Dodgers organization with GCL Dodgers, Ogden (ROOK), Great Lakes (A), Rancho Cucamonga (A), Chattanooga (AA), Inland Empire (AA) and Las Vegas (AAA), before spending the majority of last season in Albuquerque with the ‘Topes, where he finished tied for second in batting average (.310) among all Isotopes who appeared in 70 or more games.

Zawadzki, 26, went 5-for-15 (.333) with one RBI in eight games with the Dodgers at big-league camp during Spring Training. During the 2011 season, he played 91 games for Omaha, batting .233 (76×362) with 13 doubles, six triples, eight homers and 40 RBI. He was a key piece in the Storm Chasers run to the PCL Pennant, batting .400 (6×15) with two doubles and five RBI in four games.

The infielder was selected by the Padres in the fourth round of the 2007 draft and signed by the Dodgers as a Free Agent on Nov. 4, 2011. During his tenure as a professional ballplayer, Zawadzki has collected a .262 average (465×1778) in 471 minor-league games and a .200 average (7×35) in 20 Major-League contests with the Padres.

Zawadszi comes to Albuquerque as a non-roster invitee from the Dodgers’ Spring Training, where he’s been listed on the Extending Spring Training roster since the beginning of the season.

“I’m just excited to be with the team now, to get going again,” Zawadzki said. “I was kind of back there (at Extended Spring Training) waiting, just following the team as much as I could.”

The Isotopes square off against the I-Cubs tonight for the final matchup of their opening eight-game homestand at Isotopes Park at 7:05 PM. The ‘Topes look to sweep a series for the first time since taking four in a row from New Orleans, July 16-19, 2009.

Lance Zawadzki has been reassigned to the 'Topes

April 20 Isotopes Game Notes

April 20 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Cubs:  RHP Randy Wells (1-0, 9.42 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Mike Parisi (0-0, 3.60 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-20-12_Notes

“Touching Base” with John Valentin

*Each homestand the ‘Topes Tattler will spotlight an individual on the Isotopes for the new segment, “Touching Base.” The blog will be checking in with various players and coaches to give fans an inside look at your 2012 ‘Topes. Make sure to keep checking back to see who is “touching base!”

How do you know a team has found its groove at the plate?

When the starting pitcher goes 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.

The Isotopes team, as a whole, has been absolutely ripping the cover off the ball lately. The ‘Topes routinely rank tops in nearly every batting category and have scored six or more runs in all of their contests at Isotopes Park. Opposing pitchers haven’t stood a chance.

And it would be different if it were only one or two individual studs racking up extra-base hits every night, but from top to bottom, the ‘Topes can hit.

Behind the offensive machine that is the Isotopes’ roster is hitting coach, John Valentin. The batting instructor is working in his second season with the ‘Topes, and fifth in the Dodgers organization. He gives one-on-one instruction to all Albuquerque batters to ensure the team stays mechanically sound throughout the season.

“It’s a daily thing,” Vanlentin said. “I’m always looking for the good things they’re supposed to be doing, and the bad habits that they have, to make sure they don’t take their bad habits from practice to the game.”

Looks like someone has been doing their job — extremely well.

But even to Valentin, this kind of success was expected from a group of veteran ballplayers. He admitted the dominant performances haven’t really come as a shock, and at this stage in their careers, the players should expect success as they dig in at the plate.

“The potential these guys have is pretty high,” Valentin said. “Their expectations are high, my expectations are high and the organization’s expectations are high. So, I don’t really get surprised when they do well.”

Also factoring into expected success is the intensive preparations before each hitter-pitcher matchup for upcoming games. Valentin works behind the scenes to point out weaknesses in opponents’ pitching and fix any “holes” in ‘Topes batter’s swings.

He describes this as an ongoing “chess match” between opposing teams.

“Other teams are going to make adjustments to our hitters,” Valentin said. “So hopefully we can watch what they (opponents’ pitchers) are trying to do and see how they are trying to get our guys out; basically it’s a chess match, where we’re always trying to keep a step ahead of the pitchers.”

In other words, it’s all about making the right adjustments.

“The player should be aware of how effective he’s being and understand how they are pitching him,” Valentin said. “If he (the batter) works on his weaknesses and he’s able to hit the pitching they’re throwing, then he wins. That’s the chess match.”

According to Valentin, fans can expect to see more and more success at the plate as the season wears on. He said that many teams try to do too much at the plate when the season first starts, resulting in poor quality at-bats and easy outs. It becomes a case of players trying to achieve their full-season stats in a single at-bat.

“Sometimes you tend to press early and that’s what happens when you have high expectations,” Valentin said. “But as you play more you start to relax at the plate, and basically that’s what you’re seeing here lately. Hopefully, it gets to the point where we feel really good and can ride this success out for an extended period of time.”

And to Valentin, an extended period of time, ideally, is the rest of the season.

“My goal is to win every game,” Valentin said. “But is that realistic? Probably not. There are going to be pitchers making their pitches, and not to give them too much credit, but you have to tip your cap to them every once and a while. ”

That’s where the hitting coach comes in.

“My idea, and my goal and my job, is to make sure that I understand what the pitching is trying to do to my hitter. I have to give that information to him and he has to go out and execute. That’s why I’m here.”

Check and Mate.

‘Topes Hitting Coach, John Valentin

April 19 Isotopes Game Notes

April 19 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Cubs:  LHP Travis Wood (1-0, 4.91 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP John Ely (0-1, 8.00 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-19-12_Notes

April 18 Isotopes Game Notes

April 18 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Cubs:  RHP Jay Jackson (1-0, 4.66 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Fernando Nieve (1-1, 14.09 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-18-12_Notes

April 17 Isotopes Game Notes

April 17 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Cubs:  LHP Chris Rusin (1-1, 4.38 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Stephen Fife (0-2, 10.50 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-17-12_Notes

April 16 Isotopes Game Notes

April 16 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Storm Chasers:  RHP Vin Mazzaro (0-0, 3.00 ERA)
Isotopes:  LHP Michael Antonini (0-0, 1.80 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-16-12_Notes

April 15 Isotopes Game Notes

April 15
Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Storm Chasers:  LHP Will Smith (0-0, 8.59 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Mike Parisi (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-15-12_Notes

April 14 Isotopes Game Notes

April 14 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Storm Chasers:  LHP Mike Montgomery (0-0, 4.15 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP John Ely (0-1, 21.00 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes 4-14-12_Notes