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Isotopes battle against grasshopper invasion

The Isotopes have faced a new nemesis this homestand in the form of these flying fiends.
Chris Jackson

They are everywhere. They are in the outfield, the infield, the dugout, the stands, the clubhouse.

What are they? Grasshoppers, who have descended upon Albuquerque and specifically brightly lit Isotopes Park, by the millions.

Battling back against this mass infestation are the Isotopes players, who have found themselves under siege from the moment they set foot in the park until the moment they leave to go home. It has been especially tough in the outfield.

“I just try to have fun with it in the outfield, just trying to step on them,” Trayvon Robinson said. “It’s probably bad (to say that), but I’m having fun doing it.”

Catcher Johnny Monell said his first encounter with the bugs came out of nowhere. It came during his first day in Albuquerque since he just joined the Isotopes via a trade.

“I was walking up to take (batting practice) for the first time here and one of them jumped up and hit me in the face,” Monell said. “I was like, ‘What the (heck) was that?’”

The threat of an eyeball assault has weighed heavy in the minds of the outfielders, Robinson said. That’s part of the reason he tries to eliminate his enemies quickly.

“I’ve noticed like during batting practice they can see you a lot better during the day,” Robinson said. “At night I can walk right next to them and they don’t know. I step on them, trying to get them out of my way. Because what if I’m going to catch a ball and one of them jumps up and hits me in the eye? I’ve got to eliminate them right away.”

The visiting players have had to deal with the flying threat as well, receiving no respect from their insect brethren. Salt Lake Bees outfielder Zach Borenstein was stunned by the sheer size of his new foes.

“I didn’t know what they were the first night we were here,” Borenstein said. “I just saw them flying around and they’re huge. They’re hopping around and I didn’t know what they were.”

Borenstein paused before adding, “it’s a little bit different out here (in Albuquerque),” as opposed to his hometown of Chicago or his previous stop at Double-A Arkansas. It was even worse for the Salt Lake players when it came time to leave the ballpark.

“I was on the way to the shuttle (Sunday) after the game to go back to the hotel,” Borenstein said. “I had to walk through them (and) there was probably 300 grasshoppers laying on the ground. It grossed me out a little bit. I’m not used to seeing that.”

All the players can do is keep stomping and swatting. Or they can just hope that they all make it out of Albuquerque after Tuesday’s afternoon series finale before the grasshoppers grow so large they start carrying people away.

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