Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fightins Quotables: Manager Wathan talks Reading players

I spoke with Double-A Reading Fightins skipper Dusty Wathan prior to Friday's home contest against the Binghamton Mets. Topics of discussion included top draft pick Aaron Nola's pitching restrictions, outfielder Kelly Dugan's progress, Severino Gonzalez's season and plenty more. Read ahead for those exclusive comments from Wathan.

Kelly Dugan, image- Jay Floyd
-Speaking about Kelly Dugan, who entered action on Friday sporting a .330/.423/.481 line in 32 games since the All-Star break...

Kelly's been very good. I think he's done a nice job with his swing, he's flattened it out a little bit. He's driving balls the other way better than I've ever seen him. You know, I think he's really learning his swing, becoming a better hitter. I think his power numbers are a little down and some people have voice their concerns about that, not inside the organization, but media. But, to me that's no big deal. To me, he's a better hitter than I saw last year. And the power will come. I'm not worried about that. he's driving balls all over the ballpark and having really good at bats every night, so it's really good for Kelly. He's had a long stretch where he's felt good and it's nice to see for him and the organization.

-I asked Dusty if he thought OF Aaron Altherr's brief stints with the Phillies this year could benefit him in the long run...

Yeah, I think so. I think everybody wants to get to the big leagues and play in the big leagues and sometimes once you get a taste of it, it makes you want to be there even more. I think he went from the Ritz-Carlton to the Super 8 one time, so if that's any incentive to get back there and to work on what he needs to work on to get there, that's the prime example right there.

-Speaking about veteran corner infielder/DH Jake Fox, who is Reading's top offensive performer at 32-years-old, and his impact on younger teammates...

He's been outstanding. To have a veteran to do what he's done in his career, plaed all over the place, played in tbe big leagues, multiple leagues all over the world and the attitude that he has, the leadership that he has, to be able to use that experience that he has to give to give to other players. He's willing to do that. Hes a good mentor to a lot of these guys. He likes to talk hitting. I think sometimes, as coaches, we can talk till we're blue in the face about things, but when it comes from a peer and a guy that has done it before and is doing it right now, sometimes it really clicks for some guys.

-On another veteran with big league experience, LHP Adam Loewen...

He's been outstanding., I think he's starting to comfortable with pitching, really using his legs well and I think he's had seven or eight quality starts in a row. Every time we give him the ball, he seems to get a little bit better and gets a little more comfortable on the mound. I think the biggest thing for him is that he's been able to command his fastball a little bit better each time out and then his change up just has really developed into a good pitch for him and he's trusting it.

-I inquired if rumors of top draft pick Aaron Nola (3-3, 3.35 ERA in nine pro appearances) being shut down before the season ends are true...

Right now, we've been holding him at 85 pitches per outing, or five innings and that's really all we have. Right now, I think we're just going start to start. We'll probably listen to him a little bit and then still have some talks about it.

Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd
-Comments on LHP Jesse Biddle's return to Reading after missing time with post-concussion symptoms (Biddle is slated to start game 1 of Reading double header on Saturday)...

He's pitched a couple times down in Clearwater and it's nice to see him back up here and, you know, hopefully he can go out there and have a good start and get himself back on track.

-Commenting about RHP Severino Gonzalez, who was honored by the Phillies as their top minor league pitcher last year and has posted an 8-12 record with a 4.93 ERA in 24 games started for the Fightins...

I think he's getting close to his innings limit. We skipped him a start and he's way over his innings (total) than he's ever been in his career. I think if you look at this year, at his age, he probably should have pitched a full year in Clearwater and he's pitched a full year at this level, especially with him being in extended spring last year. He's been outstanding. He's learned a lot. He's learned about himself. I think he's learned to pitch a little bit more than in the past and learned what he has to do. It's been a really good year for him, I think, personally for a development standpoint. Maybe the numbers aren't there, but sometimes there's a lot of things you can learn, despite what the numbers might say. (Thursday) night was an example. We gave him a lead, he struggled the first couple innings by walking some lead-off guys, but pitched with the lead from the 3rd inning and I think the biggest thing (Thursday) night was very encouraging. He had a five run lead going into the 7th inning and he gave up a couple hits right away and he had 1st and 2nd, nobody out and was able to pitch out of that jam by only giving up two runs and I think the key point was he had 2nd and 3rd, only one run in with one out and instead of trying to strike that guy out, threw a good sinker, got a ground ball, allowed that run to score, struck the next guy out, staying away from the big inning, which is something that he's starting to learn. You know, one or two or three runs is going to be a pretty darn good start and help me win a lot of ball games and help my team win a lot of ball games. I think from a maturity standpoint I was really happy to see that (Thursday) night.

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