Eugene Emeralds Notebook I

Eugene, OR: The emphasis in Eugene is clearly on the fundamentals. The Emeralds entered the game with 30 errors in 20 games which has led to 19-percent of the runs they have allowed coming via the unearned variety. Three pitchers threw pens on Friday – Jerry Sullivan, Chris Fetter and Matt Jackson.

  • Defense has been an integral part of the pre-game routine. From outfield defense to infield drills and fielding bunts, the Emeralds have been busy.

    Chris Tremblay leads the team with five errors but 19 errors have been made by the infield defense. Without a true shortstop in the Beamer Weems mold, the defense has struggled.

    On Thursday, Nate Freiman had a late break on a ball hit in and nearly took out pitcher Nick Greenwood – dropping the left-hander to the ground when he dove for the first base bag after picking up the ball.

    "A lot of things went wrong on that play," Freiman said. "You are never supposed to tackle the pitcher. I shouldn't have knocked him down. I hesitated a little bit on the ball. I was trying to make a read to see if he could get to it but made the wrong read. That was my fault and comes with experience."

    The Emeralds drilled hard on defense on Friday as a result, having the pitchers field bunts and working the infield defense hard. Unfortunately, it didn't help. Eugene had two errors on Friday in the same inning, which led to a pair of unearned runs. "We do it all the time," manager Greg Riddoch said of stressing defense. "We stress it at every level. It is more prevelant here because of experience. We don't turn many double plays either – that is a problem."

  • Jerry Sullivan, Chris Fetter and Matt Jackson all threw bullpens on Friday. Sullivan and Fetter had 20-pitch pens while Jackson tossed 30 pitches in his side session.

    Sullivan was working on the returning command of his pitches after missing time, continuing the buildup process to return to the mound.

    "Jerry missed a little bit of time," pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said. "He was in the regional's and took some time off. It is all about him getting back into baseball form. He will be fine. We had him working on some stuff and regaining his confidence."

    "Jerry hasn't pitched as well as he would have liked to just yet," catcher Jason Hagerty said. "He pitched a lot in college. He has a real live fastball with good two-seam action. He is a gamer."

    Fetter experimented with a new slider grip that he hoped would continue to make that pitch sharper.

    "He was throwing a short box today," Hagerty said. "He has a real live fastball and loose arm. The ball gets on you quick. He has a pretty good slider and changup too. He has been throwing real well for us."

    "I had him working on a slider – a different grip," Patrick said. "His other slider was a little big – a slurve. I showed him a different grip where we could make the break a little smaller. He is catching on to it."

    Jackson had his routine pen between starts and put an emphasis on the curveball after dropping the pitch when he first came to Eugene in favor of making his slider sharper.

    "Jackson always had the curveball – he hasn't thrown it much in the game but he has shown he has four quality pitches," Patrick said.

    "He has a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup," Hagerty said. "He has had a lot of success for us and hopefully he can continue that."

  • On the hitting front, Emmanuel Quiles appears to be bigger this year and it is evident in his contact. Even when he does not make perfect contact, he can muscle the ball into the open spots in the field. If he hit a ball last season, odds were pretty good it would be on the ground and end up in an out.

    Edinson Rincon and Matt Vern hit with one glove – one by design and the other not. Rincon only keeps his bottom hand under wraps – and his is intentional. Vern, on the other hand, ripped his glove and is awaiting a replacement.

    Freiman might have a long swing but his power is evident. The towering first baseman has tremendously quick hands and a line drive stroke that is surprising given his size. That bodes well for his future.

    Dean Anna was back in Fort Wayne and his approach might be one of the cleanest on the team. He has great weight transfer and separation, leading to a consistent approach.

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