Eugene Emeralds Notebook: Lessons learned

EUGENE, OR-- Sawyer Carroll's work in the cage before the game pays dividends when night falls. Simon Castro and Rey Garramone get lessons during their side session while the whole staff is taught a different lesson that may be the most important they learn. The catchers work on curtailing the high number of passed balls with their manager.

  • Sawyer Carroll has had a rough go of things recently and part of the reason is his sound mechanics have changed since earlier in the year.

    Instead of keeping his rhythm going through his swing and his balance back on the ball and forward as he goes through his swing plane, Carroll has been leaning more on his front foot.

    "I think I started to panic a little and it got worse and worse," Carroll said. "My balance is out of whack."

    It is those small things that can be the difference between a hit and an out.

    "Stay back until you are ready to transfer your weight," Gamboa said.

    It was his double in the eighth inning that put the Emeralds in a tie with Tri-Cities on Monday and the outfielder came around to score the eventual winning run.

    "I have been struggling a little bit as of late," Carroll said. "I have been pulling off the ball and trying to go the other way, and I hit that ball and thought (the fielder) might have caught it but heard the crowd cheering.

    The outfielder also made two sliding catches in the outfield.

    "Danny (Robertson) was giving me a hard time saying I didn't need to slide," Carroll said. "As long as I catch them, I don't care what they say."

  • Simon Castro and Rey Garramone were among the pitchers who threw side sessions on Monday and each got instruction from pitching coach Dave Rajsich.

    Castro was having trouble keeping his balance during the session, throwing several of his sliders and changeups in the dirt as he opened up his front side and overextended on his delivery to the dish.

    "Where is your weight on the coil," Rajsich asked. "Keep back. Use the same arm action and slot as the fastball."

    Rajsich did offer praise for Castro's last start.

    "Your slider was much better when you treated it like a fastball."

    Garramone is working on keeping his mechanics and line to the plate strong. When he gets off line with his foot placement and head, his pitches lose their accuracy.

    For Garramone, most of the talk is on the mental part of the game and finishing the season strong, regardless of the role.

    That wasn't the only thing, however.

    "(Rajsich) wants me to build up my arm strength more and do more long tossing," Garramone said.

    The feeling is that he can still gain some ticks on his fastball by doing more long tossing.

    One of the big things that Rajsich is trying to get across to the staff is a difference in miles per hour between the fastball and breaking pitches and a similar difference between breaking pitches and the changeup.

    "We want separation from your pitches," he said. "Not just from your fastball to breaking ball but also to your changeup. We want to see five to six miles between each pitch. Most everyone here needs to work on that.

  • There was a lot of activity on the baseball field prior to the game with roving infield instructor Gary Jones and minor league field coordinator Tom Gamboa in camp.

    Every part of the field was being used with manager Greg Riddoch working with the catchers. The idea he was getting across to his troops was to turn the glove up and not turn it back down while the pitch is being thrown. If the arm and wrist are locked in that position, it would give the catcher's an extra second to snare an errant throw from the pitcher. If the receiving part of the glove drops towards the dirt, now the wrist has to move and then the hand, causing balls to pop out of mitts in that fraction of a second.

    With Emmanuel Quiles leading the league with 12 passed balls, and him also being the biggest offender of turning his glove hand down, and Logan Gelbrich on board with six passed balls, this was a drill that could cut down on runners moving up.

    "Pick the apple from the vine," Riddoch instructed. The movements were fluid as Riddoch taught, making the hand an extension of the arm – even on tough balls to either side.

    "When you have to go to the backhand, it is the toughest play," Riddoch added.

    And Quiles has particularly had trouble with those sliders that tail away to the arm side. Part of the reason has been his tendency to allow his glove to drop towards the dirt when the ball is in flight, meaning he has to turn it up to actually catch the ball.

  • Rajsich wasn't happy with his staff at one point during pitcher's fielding practice. They practicing a double play grounder on a ball hit to first with the pitcher having to come back to cover the bag. It appeared that several pitchers were going at half speed, a fact that wasn't appreciated.

    "We have a whole bag (of balls), I can go all day," Rajsich said.

    After that, the staff took things to heart and worked hard for the rest of the session.

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