Eugene Emeralds Notebook I

Adys Portillo

Eugene, OR: Eugene Emeralds manager Greg Riddoch may be ready to pass the torch in his final managerial season, but that does not stop him from sharing his wealth of knowledge.

  • Riddoch spent the first 20 games of the season coaching third base but has passed on those duties to hitting coach Shawn Wooten.

    Wooten, who was a Padres farmhand, has taken over a multitude of roles as he prepares for a role as a manager in the coming years. Riddoch believes he has what it takes.

    "Another gem right there," he said. "(Wooten) will be a big league manager someday."

    The hitting coach, in his first season with the club, stands in the third base box when the Emeralds are up. Between innings, he and Riddoch discuss what happened. When the Emeralds pitchers are on the mound, the two are again closely tied.

    Many expect Wooten to take over as the Emeralds manager next year. From there, it is anyone's guess.

  • As mentioned, Riddoch continues to work his magic with the hitters. While it is true that the Padres, like most organizations, don't change a whole lot with a hitter's swing, they are working on producing solid foundations and teaching a swing that allows the hitter to keep his bat in the hitting plane for the maximum amount of time.

    One of Riddoch's favorite lessons is the punch, literally. He isn't out there cold clocking his players. What he is doing, however, is showing how a punch relates to hitting.

    Imagine someone standing right in front of you and you punch through them with a contact point that is behind them. You hit square with your straight jab and drive through

    Take a similar approach but stand the person further away. When you swing this time, the natural rotation of your punch will put you off-balance and cause your body to turn. You might actually miss the person altogether as your arm hooks in its attempt to reach the person.

    In one method, you made solid contact and it continued through impact. The second caused soft contact or a miss. Perhaps it even made solid contact but the likelihood of that recurring is slim.

    Hitting is similar. By getting rid of the rotational swing, where the arms are fully extended from separation, you can get a more level hitting field. The bat stays parallel to the ground for an extended period of time as you punch through with your back-hand. In essence, you have a greater opportunity to hit the ball. Instead of your bat being in the zone for half a millisecond, you might extend that to two milliseconds. That is an eternity in baseball.

    Riddoch teaches this to all his hitters in an attempt to drive the point home. So, when you see his arm connecting with jaw – realize it is a teaching tool.

  • Adys Portillo, Ryan Hinson and Mark Hardy threw side bullpen sessions.

    Hardy and Hinson both threw to catchers who sat in front of the mound while Portillo had his long session.

    The left-handed Hardy only threw fastballs and changeups, as per the normal protocol, reporting that he felt good.

    "I really enjoy catching him," catcher Rocky Gale said. "Those short pens are two days after their start. He is a guy who can throw any pitch in any count."

    "Today was a light side day where we are just working on mechanics," Hardy said. "Staying loose and fluid and locating fastballs and changeups to both sides of the plate."

    Portillo was erratic at times, just like his starts. He would throw some great pitches and others that got away.

    Pitching coach Tom Bradley stressed to him the importance of "find that muscle memory. Remember what it feels like when you throw a good pitch so you can learn to repeat it."

  • Rico Noel is day-to-day with a hamstring injury. Precautions will be taken so it is not an injury that lingers through the rest of the season and into instructs.

    Matt Irsfeld should be on the mound on Sunday attempting to throw a side session. The Oregon native has an oblique strain that has kept him out for two weeks.

    Chris Tremblay still has concussion like symptoms and is at least another week away from returning to the lineup.

  • PK Park is a quality park. It lacks the nostalgia of Civic Field but is an upgrade in many other areas. The plush field, the locker rooms, the overall sightlines.

    Tufts of grass feather into the air each time the ball skips across its foundation.

    Also missing is the walk-up traffic that made it so fun and brought Eugene into the park.

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