Players on both clubs learn from Votto
By Marc Katz
8:44 PM Sunday, June 21, 2009
Byron Wiley looks like he might be a power hitter, but until Sunday afternoon, June 21, he had hit only three homers for the Dayton Dragons.
Then, against West Michigan, he blasted a ball over the right-field wall for three runs in a 7-6 Dayton victory at Fifth Third Field.
He said just watching Joey Votto take batting practice with the team (on a rehab assignment from the Reds) helped.
“I’ve been watching every swing he’s taken in batting practice,” Wiley said. “He’s a left-hander, like me. It’s been a learning weekend for all of us here.”
Votto told the Dragons to take care of the little things, and said not to concentrate just on hitting or on throwing the ball hard as a pitcher. He told the players to concentrate on all aspects of the game.
“You’ve got to be a complete player to stay in the major leagues,” Votto said.
Wiley, who was hitting .212 pre-Votto, was 4-for-9 (.444) in two games with Votto.
Whitecaps watched, too
Even the Whitecaps learned from Votto.
“Their hitting coach, Benny Distefano, told me his team learned by just watching Votto,” Dayton manager Todd Benzinger said. “You can tell players something, but it’s much better to show them.
“Like Votto is a patient hitter, but he isn’t going to pass up a good pitch to hit. He saw one on the first pitch (Saturday) and hit it out.
“The other good thing is, Joey struck out (three times). Now you can tell players, ‘See, you’re not too far off. Joey Votto struck out, too.’ ”
Finally, Benzinger noted the way Votto acts: “He’s a classy guy.”
Dragons secure fourth place
Dayton’s mini-surge at the end of the first half — coupled with the slumping play of both South Bend and Lansing — elevated the Dragons to fourth place in the Midwest League East standings, where they will have to stay (or improve upon) in the second half to make the playoffs.
It turned out Sunday’s game meant more to the Dragons than West Michigan, which secured a place in the playoffs but could not catch Fort Wayne for the first-half championship.
The Dragons, meanwhile, could have slipped into fifth place.
South Bend lost nine of 11 games to finish the half, while Lansing lost eight of 11.
Two Dragons’ staffers will drive catcher Kevin Coddington and pitcher Matt Fairel to Clinton, Iowa, today as All-Star festivities begin.
The game is Tuesday.