The Lakewood BlueClaws manager is former Phillie catcher Dusty Wathan. This season he's been an all star and has been voted best managing prospect in the South Atlantic League by the league's own managers. Now, Wathan sits two wins away from managing the BlueClaws to their second ever championship in his first season at the class A level.
I spoke with Dusty after the BlueClaws' SAL Championship game 1 victory. Here is what he had to say.
Dusty, can I get some comments on the game 1 win, and how close you guys are to completing the season long goal?
One win closer. Still a long way to go, but solid game from the guys tonight. We've been swinging the bat well for the last week or so and they continued to do it tonight. Every run means something, especially adding those 2 in the eighth inning helped us out. Gave us a little breathing room.
Was there an issue with Matthew Way's control in the game, or was there a fatigue or stamina issue?
I don't think it was a fatigue issue or anything, it was just battling his control a little bit. I think his mechanics were just a hair off and he was burying his change up rather than throwing it down in the zone. He battled through it and gave us a chance to win the game. In a regular season game, we'd probably give him a chance to win the game (let him pitch a full 5 innings, instead of pulling him out earlier than that), but right now it doesn't matter who gets "the W". He did a great job battling through without his best stuff, keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to win.
How will Andrew Carpenter be used here with the BlueClaws this week?
We don't know yet. It's totally up to a day to day thing and...
Will that come from above though?
Yes, it will definitely come from above. It will be a day to day thing.
Were there any sort of lower expectations after clinching a post season berth in the first half, then losing some players and having a slower second half leading up to the playoffs, or was your confidence level with this roster always high?
I think you're always worried about a lull, after winning something so early, but you still have to go out. These guys are professionals and they realize it. We told them, "You're not done yet. Your season's not done yet. You're playing for jobs next year, you're playing for your career. So, there's no reason to back off." They did a great job. I commend the players for really pushing themselves. And I think it was neat to see the last 5 or 6 games of the regular season, they kind of kicked it in and said, "You know what? We've got to get ready for this thing. We can't just turn the switch on." And they really played well the last 5 or 6 games.
How impressed have you been with Travis D'Arnaud's rebound in the second half this season?
He's been outstanding for us. He's really pushed himself defensively. He's thrown a lot better the second half of the season. He was challenged by myself and some guys who have seen him throw better, and now he's starting to come around. Tonight, he blocked a ball and threw a guy out in a key situation at third, so defensively he really put his nose to the grind stone and said, "You know what? This is part of me and I've got to do it." And he did. And it's funny how when you're playing good defense, you start swinging the bat. And he got confidence with the bat and swung the bat like I saw him swing it last year.
Is there any chance you'll be asked to join the big club for the remainder of the season, once you guys lock things up here?
I have no idea. That's not up to me, that's up to the higher ups, so I have no idea. I haven't heard anything.
Greg Dobbs is scheduled to make a rehab appearance in game 2 of the SAL Championship Series for Lakewood tonight.
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