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Isotopes Notebook: Monell happy to be back in the west

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Getting traded in the middle of a season is never easy on a player. It's even less easy when that player is a catcher.

Catchers have a whole new pitching staff to learn how to handle, and often very little time in which to do that. Such is the case for new Albuquerque Isotopes catcher Johnny Monell, who was acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles organization last week.

“It’s a challenge,” Monell said. “I’m a competitor and I’m willing to take on anything that comes up to me. I’m not afraid, I’m very confident in my skill. I know I have a really tough job as it is as a catcher. So all it is, is talking to guys, getting feedback from the coaching staff, just being able to adapt and overcome anything that comes in front of me.

“I tell the pitchers to pitch to their strength, learn from them as much as possible and watch what they do best. I’ve been watching a lot of video with the starters and just trying to talk to our pitching coach and really get a good idea of what guys are trying to do here.”

Monell served as the Isotopes’ catcher in an 8-7 loss to the host Sacramento River Cats on Friday. He was the designated hitter Saturday in a 7-5 win over Salt Lake.

In those games Monell was a combined 3-for-6 with a double, triple, three runs scored, two RBI and a stolen base. That comes on the heels of struggling in 30 games at Triple-A Norfolk, batting .209/.280/.286.

“I know that under the circumstances what I was doing in Norfolk, the role I was playing in over there, I was swinging the bat well, just hitting balls hard at people,” Monell said. “Coming back here (to the Pacific Coast League), getting an opportunity to play … I was feeling good the last couple weeks, I just wasn’t getting playing time. Now I’m playing back-to-back days and feeling comfortable and just knowing what’s ahead, I can just do what I do.”

With playing time hard to come by in Norfolk, Monell said he was happy to get the word he was traded. He was even happier it was back to a West Coast, National League team after he started his career in the San Francisco Giants organization.

“Once they told me I got traded, my agent told me I was going to get regular playing time over here,” Monell said. “That’s something that I want. I come to play; I can’t imagine myself sitting on the bench (all the time), I would drive myself crazy. I’m a competitor, just like everyone in the clubhouse, just like every guy that’s trying to make the best of (his) career.

“I was excited. The Dodgers are a good organization, rich in history. It’s crazy, I played for the Giants, now I’m with the Dodgers. Two historic organizations to be a part of. I’m excited to be back in a National League organization. I feel like it’s true baseball.”

Monell will bat eighth for the Isotopes on Sunday night against Salt Lake. He will catch right-hander Red Patterson (2-4, 4.81 ERA).

Around the Lab

The Angels recalled outfielder Josh Hamilton from his rehabilitation assignment with Salt Lake on Sunday, so if any fans missed him Saturday night, they are out of luck. ... Joc Pederson, who missed Saturday’s game due to illness, is back in the lineup Sunday batting third and serving as the Isotopes’ designated hitter.

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