*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!”
A wide array of emotions were flowing when the Dodgers call-ups were recently optioned back to Triple-A Albuquerque. I’m talking laying on a couch in a Snuggie with a tub of Haggen Dazs emotions.
There were the guys in the locker room who were happy to get the daily starters back. The guys who were frustrated from being sent back down from Los Angeles. The guys who hoped they’d be the next ones to go be called up to the Dodgers.
And then there were guys like Tyler Henson, who realized that despite how well they performed, their chances on the diamond were quickly vanishing right before their eyes.
“With these guys that came back down from the big leagues, I understand that the room (in the lineup) is limited,” said Henson. “It’s just a matter of finding my way back into the lineup.”
I sincerely mean it when I say “good luck,” as many games have seven of the eight (excluding the pitcher) available positions filled by 40-man roster players. Of course, who can really complain when the Isotopes are in first place and hit home runs as if they were Matt Kemp taking batting practice. Which, now that you mention it, is something we have witnessed.
Either way, Henson has taken a realist approach when he examines future opportunities in the lineup. Put quite simply, he just wants a chance to play.
“Whether it be once every three days, once every five days, whatever it is,” Henson said of squeezing in playing time. “If I can keep producing I feel like I’ll get more opportunities to play.”
When Henson first joined the ‘Topes from Single-A Rancho Cucamonga, the utility fielder came out hot and collected seven hits in his first six games. During that span, the outfielder also blasted two home runs in four contests. However, the streak proved to be short lived as Henson gradually cooled off to his current mark of .272.
“It’s been kind of a roller coaster ride,” said Henson. “I started off hot and have gotten into a kind of down slope, but lately I’ve found where I need to be at.”
That makes one of us.
As a utility fielder that’s seen action all over the field during his six year career, there’s really no set position for Henson “to be at.” Through 36 appearances, he’s seen time at second, third, right, left and an occasional DH role. The versatility is absolutely an added benefit for Henson, but switching back and forth so often doesn’t allow him to become established in one role.
“In the outfield I’m fine, nothing bothers me out there,” said Henson. “Infield, coming back after being out of it for two years, it’s kind of a bumpy road at first, but I feel comfortable now. I feel comfortable basically anywhere they want to put me.”
One of the biggest reasons Henson has been able to stay comfortable throughout his career has been the continuous support of long-time teammate Matt Angle. Drafted only one year apart, Henson in 2006 and Angle in 2007, the duo has spent parts of six seasons together. And while there’s constant jesting between them (“I can’t get away from you,” Henson joked), Henson said the two have been able to rely on each other when the season begins to wear on the players.
“It makes it (the season) a lot easier knowing a guy that you’ve played with so long,” said Henson. “Especially when it comes down to crunch time, the grind, just pulling for each other.”
And as this year’s grind gradually comes to its conclusion, Henson plans to keep trusting his established routine to produce results.
When he gets a chance, that is.
“Just keep producing, keep doing what I’m doing,” said Henson. “When I get to play I’m going to play good defense, run the bases hard and hopefully the results are at the end.”
Chances are, they will be.