Results tagged ‘ touching base ’

“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

“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

“Touching Base” with Alex Castellanos

*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!”

In a season that’s seen a handful of guys leave the ‘Topes, it feels good to have one back.

Especially when it’s Alex Castellanos.

Almost exactly a month to the day (April 24) since the utility fielder went on the DL with a left hamstring strain, Castellanos says everything is back 100 percent and he’s ready to suit up for the Isotopes.

“It feels good,” says Castellanos of his hamstring. “I’m still a little bit scared to push it, but I’ll get over it after I start playing a couple games.”

If anyone should be scared it’s opposing pitching.  Before the injury, Castellanos ranked in the tops of nearly every offensive category including runs scored, triples, extra-base hits, total bases, walks, torn-up pitching charts, slugging percentage and opponent’s headaches.

He even led the PCL in hit by pitches (wonder if there’s a correlation).

When asked about what he’s looking to do in his return, Castellanos said, “Just right where I left off, just doing what I was doing.”

Better get the record books ready.

While on the Disabled List, Castellanos was slowly rehabbing his way back to Albuquerque in Extended Spring Training. His routine in Glendale AZ. was a little different than everyday professional baseball, and he said that all the down time can really wear on your mental composure.

“That whole month was tough,” says Castellanos. “Especially (when) I wake up early in the morning, get my stuff done, and then I have the whole day just to think.”

Think about what exactly?

What pose to strike after a clutch base hit? How fast to jog around the bases after a home run? What walk-up song really says Alex Castellanos is back?

Anything else in Extended Spring Training?

“I played about 10 games down there, got a couple at-bats, got a couple hits,” says Castellanos.  “I think I hit a couple home runs, stuff like that.”

Jeez. How fast can we get this guy back in the box?

Unfortunately it’s unlikely that he’ll have a perfectly smooth transition back to Triple-A. Injuries like his can have a nagging, lingering effect, and it’s not something the infielder can just forget.

“I don’t really feel it (the injury),” says Castellanos. “But I’m just kind of scared to leg it out and have something happen. Just over time it’s going to have to get out of my head.”

Luckily he won’t have as much time to think about it anymore. With Castellanos penciled in the lineup tonight, the first time since April 24, he definitely has more important things on his mind.

“I want to get my timing back, see pitches, just things like that,” he says. “I’m just going to work my way up, little by little.”

“I just want to get back to the way I was playing.”

No need to think twice about that.

‘Topes infielder, Alex Castellanos