*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!”
Throw out your “Astrology Today” magazine, pause your “self-motivation book on tape” and tell your sports psychologist you’ll call him back. Just stop it all. These crazy things that help grasp this “complicated” game, throw it all out. There’s no need for any of that today. Today, we’re just going to play baseball.
And for ‘Topes outfielder Trent Oeltjen, the baseball that’s played between the ears is no longer important.
The Aussie outfielder has witnessed the drawbacks of over-thinking on the diamond during his career. Or, to put it more bluntly, he’s been a part of it. His season’s stat chart thus far in 2012 bares a strong resemblance to an earthquake on the Richter Scale, where the highs take your breath away, and the lows, you might just glance over.
“I had a bit of a slow start,” Oeltjen said. “But since then I’ve really felt like myself again and have been trying to have fun playing the game.”
So the question is; how does he take the mental side out of baseball?
“I think just relaxing, not trying to do too much and just enjoying the game,” Oeltjen said. “Sometimes you try too hard and it doesn’t quite work that way, so you have to relax and have fun and just trust that what you’ve got is going to show up.”
Which, lately, has been a guessing game for the ‘Topes outfielder. On the season Oeltjen is batting .257 with 13 extra-base hits and 14 RBI. The numbers are absolutely solid enough, but they’re merely a shadow compared to the end of May, when he collected 13 hits in eight contests, including five multi-hit games.
“I just need to be more consistent and believe in myself,” said Oeltjen, who spent nearly half of the 2011 season at the Major League level with the Dodgers. “I had a lot of experience up there (with Los Angeles) last year, so that gave me the confidence to know that I am a Major League player.”
But three hits a night or not, here in Albuquerque, he’s still a Minor League star.
The carefree, always smiling Oeltjen takes center stage every time he suits up for the Isotopes. This season marks his third consecutive year he’s played for Albuquerque, at least for part of the year, and from the “Aussie Aussie” chants to his “fan club” above the dugout, you’d think the fan favorite was born and raised right here in the Duke City (insert Brian Cavazos-Galvez).
“It’s awesome to play here with such great fans because they’re always behind me and it helps me out a lot,” Oeltjen said. “It can be like a home away from home for me.”
He also said that the rest of the guys in the locker room can sometimes get a little envious of the amount of attention he receives on the field.
“They wish they had it too,” Oeltjen joked.
Other voices in the locker room, namely the coaching staff, also like what they see in the Aussie player. Oeltjen said as long as ‘Topes Manager Lorenzo Bundy keeps penciling him in the lineup, the outfielder plans to continue to leave it all out on the field and attempt to make it back to the big leagues.
“I’ve played with them (‘Topes coaches) all before and they know what they’re getting in me,” Oeltjen said. “I hustle and play hard every game and good things happen when you do that. I want to take that and continue to have good at-bats and get back up there to Los Angeles.”
But even if he stays here with the Isotopes this season, he’ll still have local fans offering their support. When asked about eliminating the mental aspects of baseball, Oeltjen largely credited his fanbase’s support for his success.
“The fans help keep you up,” Oeltjen said. “They remind you how fun it is to run out there every day and put a jersey on and play baseball.”
After all, it is just a kid’s game isn’t it?