Results tagged ‘ Trent Oeltjen ’

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)

“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

Former ‘Tope Oeltjen Set for Return to Albuquerque

It had been a long time coming when the Dodgers optioned outfielder Trent Oeltjen to minor-league camp after Saturday’s 9-3 win against the D-backs.

Oeltjen was vying for a roster spot in a crowded Dodgers outfield that included four players ahead of the former ‘Tope, perhaps most importantly versatile fielder Jerry Hairston. Even so, Oeltjen didn’t make it easy on the Dodgers after batting .289 this spring and scoring two runs in Saturday’s exhibition game. But despite the solid performance, Los Angeles’ roster couldn’t support a spot for the outfielder.

Oeltjen has appeared in 99 big-league games since his MLB debut with the D-backs in 2009. He batted .220 during that tenure, most recently dropping to .197 through 61 games with the Dodgers in 2011. Conversely, the outfielder racked up 149 hits in 465 at-bats (.339) with the ‘Topes last season, the highest among all Isotopes with more than 55 games for the Triple-A club.

The roster move leaves the next and near final Dodgers transactions to involve an infield position between former ‘Tope Justin Sellers and non-roster invitee Josh Fields. Sellers’ performance has fluctuated during spring training and currently includes a .308 batting average, while Fields got off to a hot start before recently cooling off to hit .273.

Stay tuned for more up-to-the-minute roster updates as the ‘Topes prepare for the 2012 campaign beginning April 5 at the Omaha Storm Chasers.

Trent Oeltjen is headed to minor-league camp