June 2012

“Touching Base” with Brian Cavazos-Galvez

*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!”

We’re at about the time of the season when Brian Cavazos-Galvez get’s hot. I’m talking 3-for-4 hot. The kind of hot where a bunt back to the pitcher turns into a double. Opposing hurlers beware, it doesn’t matter what you throw him, if Cavazos-Galvez makes contact, he’s getting a base hit.

Shake your head in disbelief if you want, but his 23 hits in the last 45 at-bats don’t lie. That means, statistically speaking of course, if you flip a coin for Cavazos-Galvez to get a base knock, the results come out —

Heads, he gets a hit

Tails, he probably still gets a hit.

“So far, knock on wood, I started really slow and have pulled my way out from that,” Cavazos-Galvez said.

Pulling his way out refers to his slow starts, which have actually become a habitual occurrence to the outfielder. At the onset of each year, Cavazos-Galvez has struggled at the plate, putting his early batting average “in a hole.” The worst part is, after ruling out bad habits and mental blocks, Cavazos-Galvez isn’t even sure why he begins each season in a rut.

“Things just don’t quite go my way early in the season,” Cavazos-Galvez said with a shrug. “I’ve been having to pull myself out of a hole, and that’s hard mentally, but I think it’s good for my own confidence and the Dodgers confidence as well.”

The start of this season was when his early struggles took a turn for the worst. Cavazos-Galvez began the year with Double-A Chattanooga, but after hitting below the Mendoza line (.167) through 20 games, he was reassigned to high Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.

As the season picked up, so did his performance at the plate. The outfielder quickly found his stroke in California to hit at the .346 mark with three home runs. But he hadn’t really changed anything mechanically. His swing was still basically the same, yet now he was ripping the cover off the ball. So why the quick fix?

“In Chattanooga I didn’t feel bad or anything,” Cavazos-Galvez said. “But when I got to Rancho it cleared my head and was a fresh start. The whole change of scenery and mentality really helped me start over.”

And with the fresh start came his first call to Triple-A Albuquerque. Not necessarily a change of scenery for the hometown hero, but a new chance to prove himself to the parent club. A job, he says, that includes doing anything and everything required of him.

“I can do a little bit of everything and I think that’s the biggest thing I can give to the organization,” Cavazos-Galvez said. “I feel that I’m doing a bunch of little things that can be put together and allow me to showcase myself.”

Showcasing himself is really going to be the most challenging aspect of the outfielder’s season. With a stacked outfield in Los Angeles, plus great prospects here in Albuquerque, separating himself might mean elevating his game to a whole new level. Even with his .376 average on the year.

But to Cavazos-Galvez, the numbers only tell part of the story. He said his call to the big leagues can be largely based on the amount of his success with each job he’s given. Whether it’s leading off, driving in runs from the bottom of the order, playing defense or even coming off the bench, as long as he’s excels in his daily job, he says everything will work itself out in the end.

“You just need to be focused on your job for the team, and if you do your job in every situation, they (coaches) are going to see that. It doesn’t matter if you hit .200 or .400 as long as you’re good at THAT job.”

That’s not to say he isn’t a team player though. Above all, Cavazos-Galvez acknowledged that his number one job will always be “helping his team win wherever he goes.” Well, playing here in Albuquerque really means there’s only one other place for him to go.

“It definitely would be a little bitter sweet to leave here for the Dodgers,” Cavazos-Galvez said. “It’s been special to be in Albuquerque and be a professional at something I love to do… but I’d take Los Angeles every day.”

Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery.

‘Topes outfielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez

June 21 Isotopes Game Notes

June 21 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Zephyrs: LHP Wade LeBlanc (4-5, 4.11 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Stephen Fife (5-4, 4.86 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-21-12_Notes

June 20 Isotopes Game Notes

June 20 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Zephyrs:  LHP Brad Hand (4-4, 4.30 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Will Savage (9-3, 5.16 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-20-12_Notes

June 19 Isotopes Game Notes

June 19 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Zephyrs:  RHP Alex Sanabia (5-4, 3.18 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Fernando Nieve (3-4, 6.85 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes:  6-19-12_Notes 

June 17 Isotopes Game Notes

June 17 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Isotopes:  LHP Michael Antonini (1-5, 5.50 ERA)
Cubs: RHP Chris Volstad (2-1, 5.12 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-17-12_Notes

Roster Returning to Form

Alex Castellanos is back tonight. And Scott Van Slyke. And Jerry Sands.

Hey, even Josh Fields, Luis Cruz, Trent Oeltjen, Matt Angle and Tim Federowicz are here too. It’s like a seven-game winning streak ‘Topes reunion. But instead of trading stories about how good they used to be, they’re going to make new ones about how good they actually are.

“The nucleus of our club looks pretty close to what he had at the start of the season right now, and that’s a good thing,” Isotopes Manager Lorenzo Bundy said.

You don’t say.

That was the team that had six different guys batting over .300. Actually, that was the team that, as a whole, was hitting almost .300 (.289). They ranked second in home runs (20), third in RBI (111) and third in runs (119). They ate Powerbars for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And now they’re back, and presumably, better than ever. With three of the everyday starters having seen time with the Dodgers already, PLUS a lineup that features the scorching hot Brian Cavazos-Galvez, the ‘Topes shouldn’t have any problems in the near future.

Except maybe fitting everyone into the lineup.

“That’s the time when your managerial skills come in as far as spreading time around,” Bundy said. “But at this level you don’t know who is going to be here one day and gone the next.”

Well, while they are here, I plan on thoroughly enjoying each and every day they crank up the bats. I plan on soaking in every box score that could easily belong to a football game: 7-3, 14-6, 21-0… A little too far? I think not.

“Obviously having everyone back here makes us strong again in a sense,” Isotopes Hitting Coach John Valentin said. “We hope to get back on a roll like we did early in the year and get back to first place.”

Go ahead and put us back on the fast track for the top rung. In the last week or so, the ‘Topes have moved from four and a half games back of first, to only one and a half. During the streak, as the big leaguers have begun to slowly trickle back to Albuquerque, the Isotopes have scored 10 or more runs in three of the four most recent victories.

“We’ve swung the bat really, really well the last few nights,” Valentin said. “Hopefully it’s a good sign that we’re going to start to get hot with the bats and help our pitching out.”

Oh yeah. I nearly forgot about the guys out on the mound for us, who, arguably, have been the biggest cause for the improved play. Between starters Fernando Nieve, Will Savage, Stephen Fife and John Ely, none of the hurlers have allowed more than four runs in their previous starts at home. And yes, that includes the rarefied air of Isotopes Park, which is not especially known for aiding pitching.

“We’ve been getting really good pitching, and that’s been a key point,” Valentin said.

Whatever you want to attribute our hot streak to lately, winning six of the last eight, it’s been vintage ‘Topes. Hitting. Scoring. Winning. It’s all coming together, much like the core of this season’s starting roster. However, the trick is going to be not chasing first place, just taking care of business day by day at the yard.

“We try not to look two or three days down the road, we just go for the day,” Bundy said. “I try to keep the guys focused on the moment and whatever happens tomorrow we’ll deal with it when we get there.”

He’s right. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get Elian Herrera back —

And have some real roster issues.

Scott Van Slyke is a key piece returning to the ‘Topes roster (Photo: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers)

June 16 Isotopes Game Notes

June 16 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Isotopes:  RHP John Ely (6-4, 3.24 ERA)
Cubs: LHP Chris Rusin (5-4, 3.81 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-16-12_Notes

June 15 Isotopes Game Notes

June 15 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Isotopes:  RHP Stephen Fife (5-4, 4.58 ERA)
Cubs: RHP Frankie De La Cruz (1-1, 2.66)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-15-12_Notes

June 14 Isotopes Game Notes

June 14 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Isotopes:  RHP Will Savage (8-3, 4.56 ERA)
Cubs: LHP Brooks Raley (2-1, 4.09)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-14-12_Notes

June 13 Isotopes Game Notes

June 13 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Express:  RHP Greg Reynolds (4-5, 4.76 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Fernando Nieve (3-3, 7.19 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-13-12_Notes