Jeremy Hazelbaker seemed like a natural fit for the Albuquerque Isotopes from the moment the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired him in a trade during the offseason. It just ended up taking Hazelbaker a little longer than expected to join Albuquerque.
The lanky outfielder spent the first 46 games of his season at Double-A Chattanooga, the result of a logjam at his position with the Isotopes. This came after Hazelbaker spent all of 2013 at Triple-A Pawtucket for the Red Sox.
“There’s not much to say at that point,” Hazelbaker said. “You know, you’re just thankful that you’ve got some place to play at all. You’re thankful that you’re in organized ball and you just have an opportunity. Whether it’s in Double-A or Triple-A, wherever it is, you’ve got to prove yourself.”
With that attitude, Hazelbaker went down and became the Lookouts’ best hitter. He batted .285/.354/.462 with three home runs, 23 RBI and 11 stolen bases.
“I needed to prove myself, I needed to show people what I could do,” said Hazelbaker, who was acquired in a trade for former Isotopes outfielder Alex Castellanos. “I’m not sure that everybody knew what I was capable of. So I went to Double-A and hopefully opened some eyes and showed people what I can do. I feel like that was what I was supposed to do.”
Once a player reaches Triple-A, getting sent down a level can be a major psychological blow. Among Hazelbaker’s Albuquerque teammates, fellow outfielder Trayvon Robinson had the same experience last season when the Orioles sent him to Double-A Bowie.
“It was tough, man,” Robinson said. “I started questioning my ability. I know (Hazelbaker) didn’t do that, he took it well and actually went down and hit. He pretty much just waited his turn. But I felt for him. I know exactly how that feels.”
Hazelbaker went 8-for-23 in his first five games with the Isotopes, but is now in a 1-for-20 slump. He was not in the lineup Tuesday night against Round Rock.
Garvey to appear in ABQ
Former Dodgers standout Steve Garvey will be in town for Wednesday’s Isotopes game. He will be signing autographs outside the ballpark as part of the 2014 Mobil Super “Go The Distance” Baseball Tour.
Garvey will also catch the ceremonial first pitch, though who is throwing the pitch was not released by the team. Garvey hit .373 with 14 home runs for the Double-A Albuquerque Dodgers in 1969 before heading to Los Angeles.
Around the Lab
Shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena was initially listed as playing shortstop and batting ninth Tuesday, but that lineup was later rescinded and replaced by one with Carlos Triunfel in those spots. One possibility is that the Dodgers were in a rain delay and could have to play a doubleheader, which would necessitate the call-up of a 26th player just for those games. ... Six of the 13 lowest-scoring games in Isotopes history have come since the installation of the humidor at the start of the 2013 season. Monday’s 2-0 loss was one of those six games.