Random Batavia Muckdogs Thoughts: 07/16/09

Covering the Cardinals' New York-Penn League entry on Thursday included a frank chat with Deryk Hooker.

I returned to the Batavia Muckdogs at Hudson Valley Renegades contest on Thursday evening. In addition to the interviews for Scout.com subscribers and photos from yesterday, I added two Cardinals draftee interviews to add to our ongoing series, Tyler Lavigne and Ryan Jackson. Look for all of these to roll out about one per day over the next week.

Following are some random observations from my Thursday travels:

I had an interesting conversation with hitting coach Ramon "Sparky" Ortiz. His message is the same as he says is the entire Cardinals organization credo for hitters.

1) Hitters should not adjust their swing early in the count. In other words, don't chase the pitcher's pitch, an off-speed offering. Instead…
2) Don't miss the fastball.

As we reported earlier, Jonny Bravo is joining the Muckdogs on Friday when they return home. He will be thrown right into the fire as the back end of the tandem pairing on Friday night.

Unfortunately, pitcher Kevin Siegrist is temporarily out of the rotation due to an left elbow problem. He is expected to miss at least two turns through the rotation but will not be placed onto the disabled list since the Muckdogs have roster room.

The reason Wednesday afternoon's starter Tyler Lavigne left after two innings and 30 pitches is because he asked out after suffering shoulder discomfort. It is apparently not serious, but the action was taken as a precaution.

I had a long talk with Deryk Hooker, back from his suspension. Eventually I broached the subject of his difficulties and to his credit, the young man did not dodge the question. He discussed it in a very mature manner. Hooker, who turned 20 years of age just three weeks ago, seemed genuinely sorry for what happened and offered thanks in three areas. First, that it happened as early in his career as it did, that he was able to get professional help and that the Cardinals stuck with him. Knowing my own teenage years, how could I not be pulling for Hooker?

I met the Cardinals' second-year strength and conditioning intern Ryan Crotin in between his individual sessions with players. Croton explained that during the season it is easier to work with pitchers as they have a more set schedule that can be worked around. He joked he can help loosen muscles that need to be loosened and tighten ones that need to be tightened. Croton crafts exercises for players to strengthen muscles needed for them to make recommended adjustments.

Though it is not Batavia-related, one of the players told me that Quad Cities pitcher Brett Zawacki was having an MRI on his left knee on Thursday. Officially, it is being called a sprain, but Zawacki apparently first injured it several weeks ago in Burlington and it gave out on him a few days ago. Zawacki completely blew out the same knee playing basketball in high school – MCL, ACL, meniscus, etc, so there has to be some concern until a serious problem is ruled out.

In the game, after the Renegades' starter loaded the bases in the top of the fifth, Xavier Scruggs made him pay with a two-run, two-out single just past the diving shortstop. It put Batavia up 2-1.

The lead didn't last long. Tyler Leach looked to be taking another step in putting his frustrating past injuries behind him by spinning four very solid innings, allowing just one run on three hits. In the fifth however, he ran into trouble. He was pulled with two outs, a run in and two more in scoring position. Andres Rosales was called upon and fanned a Renegade looking to escape the jam with the score tied.

It began to pour heavily in the bottom of the sixth as Chris Corrigan took the mound for the Muckdogs. He made two official pitches, both walks, before a rain delay at 9:01 p.m. The local grounds crew was more competent getting the field covered than several major league crews I have seen this season.

I will add more later on if the game warrants. Because it is the last game of Batavia's only visit to Husdon Valley this season, it seems they will wait as long as it takes to get the game in.

After a delay of almost two hours, play resumed with Daniel Richardson on the mound for the Muckdogs. As the result of a very ugly inning consisting of two hits, three walks, three errors (including two throwing errors on the pitcher), four runs crossed the plate, turning the tie into a 6-2 Hudson Valley lead.

On a night when the Renegades set a new home attendance record at over 5,200, only a few hundred remained to see them take the lead. Even before the rain delay, the Batavia club's long bus ride was scheduled to get them home at 4 a.m. Now, it is more like sunrise, likely after 6 a.m. How does a red-eye bus ride sound? Who says minor league life is glamorous?

Second baseman Devin Goodwin, who erred in the sixth, doubled in the seventh. Red-hot Ryde Rodriguez added his second hit of the night, a triple. Each extra-base hit plated a run to pull Batavia to within two.

The Muckdogs scratched out another run in the eighth to pull to within one run, but that is where the game ended - another disappointing one-run loss. It was their third in three games at Hudson Valley and ninth in just 17 games this month.

Link to Wednesday's Batavia report



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnation.com. Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at his blog, The Cardinal Nation.

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