Life in the Minors
Giving up now not an option for the Otters
At this point of a disappointing season, it is vital for all of us with the Evansville Otters to find motivation to keep performing at a high level. While winning each game remains the primary objective, playing for a championship this time around is out of reach, as we are too far back in the standings with only five games left to play.
With the postseason now just a distant image in our rearview mirror, motivation for our players comes in the form of personal goals. With each player working to keep a job for next season, the guys have now turned their attention to reaching personal statistical milestones for the year.
For our second baseman Isaac Omura (a Mid-Pacific and Hawaii alumnus), the goal over the past week was to push his season home run total to 10, a personal best in his four-year professional career. Isaac got homer No. 10 in our series finale against the Rockford Riverhawks a couple of days ago, and recorded his 11th round-tripper last night with a mammoth shot to right field against the Windy City Thunderbolts that left Bosse Field.
For our rookie leadoff hitter Gered Mochizuki (Baldwin graduate), the goal became 20 stolen bases. With 19 bags and five games to go, I'm really hoping he will be able to reach his milestone. I was hoping our ace right-hander Adam Rogers could tie the franchise record with his 10th win of the year, but he has had some tough breaks on the mound and still has eight wins with one start to go.
I'm also hoping our closer Justin Smith can get his 10th save of the year. He's been sitting at nine saves for a week, but we haven't had a save opportunity lately.
For our staff, the goal for the rest of the season is to continue to work as we always do, and assure that our players maintain their professionalism and work ethic as the season draws to a close. While winning is still THE goal, development is also very, very important for the young pitchers I have been entrusted with, so I continue to try to impart wisdom to help them in their careers. I still hold pitchers' fielding practice every home series, and maintain scouting reports for opposing players to give our guys a competitive advantage, and that will never change.
Although the year has been tough on him as well, our energetic hitting coach Bobby Bell has continued to work as well, throwing hour after hour of batting practice and monitoring endless hours of hitting drills and early work to make sure our guys have every opportunity to continue to improve.
But there is no quit in our guys -- that's for sure.
In a game against the defending league champion Thunderbolts, the team I coached for last season, we got in a big hole early after some shoddy defense and untimely mistake pitches allowed Windy City to score six runs in the top of the third.
Our guys could have just packed it in, down a bunch, out of the race, but they didn't. Sparked by Isaac's two-run homer, we battled back, and by the fifth, we were down just two runs, 8-6. But with Windy City's persistent offense and some base-running miscues on our part, the gap expanded and we lost 12-7.
The motto around our clubhouse the last week or so has been to finish strong. We can't control the outcome of the next five games, but we can dictate how hard we continue to work. It would be nice to have the results match the effort.