There were a couple of questions that particularly caught manager Tony Franklin's ire during the postgame session yesterday. He didn't raise his voice, but you could tell how passionately he felt in his responses.
First, a question by yours truly about what I perceived as a "lack of a plan" by some of hitters, especially with runners on base.
The manager's response:
"You guys (the media) can sit there and say 'we have no plan' because we go up there and hit the first pitch. You guys can say they need to take more pitches so they can walk more, you know. But the fact of the matter is: they don't learn how to hit unless they go up there and swing the bat and decide whether or not this is a good pitch to hit or not. That's part of the development.
"This is Double-A ball, this is not Major League Baseball. Believe me: we are preaching and we have preached the fact that we need to be patient. We need to be a little more selective if we're going to swing at the first pitch.
"We need to play a little bit better than we have, and this is why, basically, (the coaching staff) have jobs. This is why they have the levels of baseball that they do. Does it get frustrating from time to time? Yes, but we've got to learn to live with that. Hopefully by the end of the year we're going to be better.
"You might say, 'well, we're at the end of the year already; we're halfway through the season.' That's true enough. It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen overnight. I constantly say, 'this is the level where you start to find out where you are in the game of baseball in this industry. Do you stack up or don't you? What do you need to improve on? What is it that you do pretty well that you need to improve on? It makes you very competitive, and this is the level where a lot of guys need to do some better things."
Immediately after that came a question from colleague Mike Ashmore, who asked whether a perceived lack of conditioning may be hurting Jorge Vazquez's defense at first base.
“Here’s a guy who (has been) a hitter all of his life, all he’s been asked to do is hit. This is a little something different for him. This is a total different game for him, whether you know that or not or whether you believe that or not. When you have a guy who’s been in the Mexican League in his hometown, people come to see him hit and that’s all he does. Defense is a little different, it’s a total package. I think he’s not as bad as he looks. Yes, he’s missed some plays. Malec’s missed some plays as well, and he’s a pretty experienced and seasoned guy. But the more we put him out there, and the more we explain some things to him and help him get better, the better he’s going to get.
We were out earlier today, just talking about some things as far as positioning is concerned. Yeah, he missed some balls. But I’m happy with the way he caught the ball. I’m happy because he was in the position to make the plays, and those are things we talked about today. So that’s progress. And at the times we do these things, you guys aren’t here, so you don’t have any knowledge of them. So I see progress where you guys don’t sometimes. I’ve got that advantage. But that’s not to say he doesn’t need to make the plays. Yes, he does. No question about it.