Bartlett Getting Ready Mentally

Jason Bartlett has taken his time in the Minor Leagues, and on Tuesday, sat down with TCD to talk about what is going to be needed for him to get back to the Major Leagues. It will be his mental approach, not just his statistics that get him back to Minnesota, and Manager Cliburn agrees. Here is an inside look at the Rochester shortstop.

Jason Bartlett was 25 years old, and ready to bust out. He was the Minnesota Twins Opening Day shortstop, and after yet another successful season in the minors the previous year, Bartlett seemed to be another young player that the Twins had groomed into a solid everyday player.

This year however, Bartlett is back with the Rochester Red Wings, and has spent the entire season there. He struggled during his first real Major League experience in 2005, and after only 74 games, was sent back down to Rochester. That season, he hit only .241 in 224 at-bats, striking out 37 times, and making seven errors. After having great success in Rochester, many wondered why he could not turn that into success at the Major League level.

Red Wings manager Stan Cliburn said that a major part of a successful transition from the Minor Leagues to the Major Leagues is the mental part of the game, not just the physical. Sometimes, the mental aspect maybe the toughest part.

"You have to stay strong; you have to take it one day at a time, and one season at time," Cliburn told "You can't let your guard down."

In Bartlett's case, that may be exactly what happened to the slick-fielding shortstop. "I think Jason kind of let his guard down a little bit, and maybe got a little too complacent when he had the job last year in the big leagues," Cliburn explained.

Bartlett, who has bounced between the Red Wings and the Twins during the last three seasons, acknowledges it's been difficult coming back to the Minors after being a regular in the Major League game.

"It's been tough. Everybody wants to be in the Big Leagues, but there's always something you have to work on when you get sent down," Bartlett told us. "That's what I'm here for, and that's what I'm trying to do."

For a young player, who seemed to be on the right track, it's tough figuring out what went wrong. Bartlett is again lighting up Minor League pitchers this season, hitting .325 with a league leading 18 doubles and 19 runs batted in entering Tuesday's game against the Clippers.

But he knows he must remain focused. "I was told to come down here and be a leader," Bartlett said. "And that is what I'm trying to do."

Cliburn said he spoke with Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, who told him that Bartlett needed to improve mentally before he can stick with the Twins.

"It was mostly the mental part of the game that he needed to work on, and he's gotten good at that," Cliburn said. "He comes here and plays hard everyday."

Meanwhile, Bartlett seems to have picked up the idea that it will be his mental growth, not his statistics, which will get him back to the Major Leagues. Cliburn explained that Bartlett lost concentration during his stint in the Majors Leagues last year, and this year, he is working hard to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"You have to keep on doing it everyday, no matter how hot or cold you are," said Bartlett of his work ethic.

One look at his statistics and it is clear that Bartlett has been a tremendous asset to the Wings' success this season. As the unquestioned leader of the team, Bartlett's Wings are 26-18, sitting pretty atop the International League North.

After 44 games with the Rochester, Bartlett said he is eager for another shot at the Bigs. "Everybody's here to get to the big leagues, nobody wants to spend their career in the minors," Bartlett said.

Cliburn thinks that Bartlett has all the physical tools to return to the Major Leagues. "He's a guy that can play at that level," Cliburn said. "It's just a matter of him getting himself together again mentally, and he'll be fine."

Meanwhile, Bartlett is making the best of his situation, and enjoying what he hopes is his last stint in the minors. "It's been fun. A lot of young guys, but the older guys keep it loose in the clubhouse, and it's been fun," Bartlett told us. "And we're playing well."

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