The Albuquerque Isotopes began Tuesday with six more transactions, bringing their season total up to 83. They finished the day with a 9-3 loss to the visiting Iowa Cubs in the opener of a four-game series.
“I’m not the first manager to have to go through a lot of transactions at Triple-A, that happens,” manager Glenallen Hill said. “Depending on what happens with the big-league team, it definitely affects who’s on a team here, who plays, who doesn’t play.”
Scheduled starter David Hale was called up by the Colorado Rockies to pitch in their doubleheader. That left the Isotopes (21-32) with another bullpen game.
Aaron Laffey (1-2) picked up his second spot start of the season. He allowed two runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out three in four innings.
“It was a bullpen game and we got some length out of Aaron,” Hill said. “Which was nice for us.”
Jason Gurka followed with three innings and Nelson Gonzalez finished with two. They gave up a combined seven runs, including allowing a pair of monster two-run homers to Iowa’s Javier Baez.
“I thought (Gurka) pitched OK, he made a couple mistakes, he gave up an 0-2 home run,” Hill “The home run that Baez hit, that was a missed location. With a hitter like Baez, you can’t afford to miss too many locations.”
Prior to the game, in addition to Hale being called up, right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle was promoted and catcher Ryan Casteel was placed on the disabled list with an undisclosed injury. Taking their spots were infielder Brock Bond, signed as a free agent, and two players promoted from Double-A New Britain in catcher Abel Baker and lefty reliever Gurka.
The biggest problem the Isotopes face is not a new one. Their Double-A team was previously in Chattanooga when they were a Dodgers affiliate, a long way for a player to travel when needed in Albuquerque on short notice.
The Dodgers would often have to move up players from either extended spring training in Arizona or High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Now the Rockies face an even longer trek, with their Double-A team in Connecticut, forcing them to also rely upon extended spring and their High-A team in Modesto, Calif.
“A lot of times if you look at our transactions, we’ve had guys coming up from extended or lower levels, who are not experienced,” Hill said. “That’s just the way it goes.”
Despite Hill’s best efforts, all the moves do take a toll on the team. The Isotopes have used 15 different starting pitchers this year; they used 14 all of last season.
For points of comparison, Albuquerque has those 83 transactions this season involving 51 different players. Last season, the Isotopes had 188 transactions involving 60 players, while those numbers were just 73 and 42 at the start of June.
Hill and his coaching staff can only roll with the constant changes in the roster. It is simply how life works throughout the Pacific Coast League.
“The continuity starts with communication on a daily basis, how we go to work and how they show up to work,” Hill said. “That’s what makes it all work. It’s challenging at times, but that’s just the nature of this league.”
Albuquerque and Iowa (27-24) will meet again Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. The scheduled starters, for now, are lefty Yohan Flande (1-0, 4.76 ERA) for the Isotopes and right-hander Dallas Beeler (1-4, 10.29) for the Cubs.