June 2012

June 12 Game Notes

June 11 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Express:  RHP Derek Hankins (1-3, 3.03 ERA)
Isotopes:  LHP Michael Antonini (1-4, 4.56 ERA)

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

June 11 Isotopes Game Notes

June 11 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Express:  LHP Zach Jackson (2-6, 4.48 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP John Ely (5-4, 3.22 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-11-12_Notes

June 10 Isotopes Game Notes

June 10 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Redbirds:  RHP Brian Broderick (2-7, 6.50 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Stephen Fife (5-4, 4.85 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-10-12_Notes

“Touching Base” with Trent Oeltjen

*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?

‘Topes Outfielder Trent Oeltjen

June 9 Isotopes Game Notes

June 9 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Redbirds:  LHP John Gast (2-0, 4.37 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Will Savage (7-3, 4.86 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-9-12_Notes

June 8 Isotopes Game Notes

June 8 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Redbirds:  RHP Brandon Dickson (2-4, 3.27 ERA)
Isotopes:  RHP Fernando Nieve (2-3, 8.65 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-8-12_Notes

Dodger Pride Awards — May

The Dodger Pride Awards were created in 2008 by Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti, and are given on a monthly basis to the players at each level of the club’s minor league system who play the game with a hustling, smart, aggressive style. The players and staff on each respective club vote for the awards.

Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes

Pitcher – RHP JOHN ELY went 2-2 and ranked fifth in the Pacific Coast League with a 2.52 ERA (11 ER/39.1 IP) in six May starts. The 26-year-old limited opposing hitters to a .236 batting average in the month while striking out 43 and walking only 10 in 39.1 innings. Ely made five quality starts during the month, including an 11-strikeout effort on May 10 at Tacoma and his May 26 start against Oklahoma City in which he allowed only four hits in 8.0 scoreless innings. Overall, Ely leads the PCL with 78 strikeouts in 72.2 innings and ranks seventh among league qualifiers with a 3.22 ERA in 12 starts.

Player – SS LUIS CRUZ batted .317 (32-for-101) with 18 runs scored, four home runs and 20 RBI in 26 May games. Cruz tied for fourth in the Pacific Coast League with 18 extra-base hits in the month, including tying for the league lead with 13 doubles. Overall, the native of Navajoa, Sonora, Mexico leads the PCL with 21 doubles and is batting .309 with five home runs and 32 RBI in 53 games. Cruz is batting .429 (27-for-63) against left-handed pitching and has come through in the clutch with a .389 average (21-for-54) with runners in scoring position. The 28-year-old is in his first season with the Dodger organization after signing with the club as a free agent this past offseason and batted .308 with a home run and eight RBI in 24 Spring Training games with the Dodgers.

*Follow this link for the press release in its entirety: http://atmlb.com/LjWXuL

June 7 Isotopes Game Notes

June 7 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Redbirds:  LHP Nick Additon (1-6, 5.40 ERA)
Isotopes:  LHP Michael Antonini (1-3, 4.84 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-7-12_Notes

Herrera’s Burst Onto Scene

For nearly a decade Elian Herrera had played minor league ball. He spent almost ten years slowly advancing through the ranks; the Dodgers’ facility in the Dominican Republic, Rookie Ball, Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, BACK to Double-A. He’d seen pitches at every level of the game, except the majors.

Why should this season be any different?

“Elian’s been solid,” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly told MLB.com after Herrera’s 17th game with the Dodgers, where he went 2-for-5 with two RBI. “It’s like you’re getting as close as you can to a grizzled veteran coming up from the Minors. Nine years of polish and learning to play the game. He’s been through a lot.”

But that still doesn’t explain it.

Why should the team with the best record in baseball find a spot for a guy that’s barely played a full season at Double-A? Why should he hit safely in 15 of 19 Major League contests? Why should he have three game-winning RBI already? Why should he, over five other players that were called up, make the cut instead of them?

“It’s (his success) from both sides of the plate,” Mattingly said. “He’s shown power, he’s had good at-bats, he’s shown awareness, he can steal a base, he can try to get a bunt down. He’s got a lot of different things to his game. It’s not like he’s a one-dimensional guy that came up and got hot. He looks like he belongs here.”

He also looked like he belonged with the Isotopes.

Before the call-up on May 14, Herrera was hitting .358 and on a 17-game hitting streak. He was a huge part of the ‘Topes’ winning ways, helping the team climb from the basement of the PCL American Southern Division to sole possession of first.

“It’s a great story,” Isotopes Manager Lorenzo Bundy said of Herrera. “He came here and worked his way into the lineup. He was part of the reason we turned our season around. He’s gone up there (to the Dodgers) and he’s definitely holding his own and doing a great job.”

Another thing that may have separated Herrera is his versatility. In 28 games with Albuquerque, he played six different positions on the diamond, and outside of catching or pitching, saw time everywhere except right field. At the plate, he mostly fit into the leadoff role but also had success batting in the bottom end of the lineup.

He’s the definition of utility player, and with consistent numbers at so many spots on the diamond and in the batting order, finding playing time with the Dodgers wasn’t the point of concern for Herrera or Bundy.

“The main question was could Elian handle the pressure,” Bundy said. “He’s played in pressure type situations before, but was it Dodger Stadium with 45,000 people? No. So I said the only way you find out is to give him a shot.”

In return, Herrera’s been ripping shots off any and all Major League pitching. Last night’s victim was none other than three-time All-Star and Cy-Young award winner Cliff Lee. The lefty held the first-place Dodgers to only two runs on the night. Herrera’s line? A hit with two RBI.

“He’s a baseball guy, he has great instincts,” said Isotopes Hitting Coach John Valentin of Herrera’s smooth transition to the Majors. “It especially shows when you see him have success in the big leagues, when he’s facing the best of the best when it comes to pitching.”

The greatest part of his story is that Herrera came out of nowhere and was picked up for almost nothing. When he signed with the Dodgers in 2003, he was inked with only a $15,000 bonus. As a catcher.

“I’d like to tell you that I studied the minor league system and knew this guy could play, but I can’t say that,” Mattingly said. “It’s a testament to him that he continued to work hard.”

And finally, it’s all paying off.

“In the Dominican they say, ‘Give 100 percent. What happens happens,'” Herrera said. “Even if you don’t reach your goal, you could always tell your children, ‘I gave the most I could give.'”

Here in America, we say, “Welcome to ‘The Show,’ Elian. You’ve earned it.”

Elian Herrera has become a consistent player for the Dodgers (Photo: Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers)

June 5 Isotopes Game Notes

June 5 Albuquerque Isotopes Game Notes

Probable Starters:
Isotopes:  RHP John Ely (4-4, 3.55 ERA)
Express:  RHP Greg Reynolds (4-4, 4.19 ERA)

Click here for today’s notes: 6-5-12_Notes