The old baseball mantra “have options, will travel” caught up to Dustin Garneau recently.
Garneau was expected to be the Albuquerque Isotopes’ opening day catcher, but instead ended up as the backup for the Rockies when Tom Murphy was injured during spring training.
When starter Tony Wolters went on the disabled list with a concussion, Garneau was joined by veteran Ryan Hanigan on the Colorado roster. Hanigan, unlike Garneau, did not have an option remaining, so when Wolters came back, it was Garneau who was sent back to Triple-A.
Garneau has kept his head up since returning, going 2-for-8 with a solo home run in two starts over five games.
“(My goal is to) just get back to what makes me the best ballplayer I can be,” Garneau said. “I’m going to help this team out, get guys ready when the big-league club needs them. … It sounds cliche, but that’s what I have to do.
“I have to get back to my swing that will keep me in the big leagues.”
Garneau only hit .206/.260/.353 in the majors, appearing in 22 of the Rockies’ first 40 games. He is not the first, nor likely to be the last, player to scuffle at the plate when he is not playing every day.
“They really need to rely on their routine,” said Isotopes hitting coach Darin Everson. “The routine is huge. The routine is what keeps them feeling good. What we always try to do as coaches is find what that routine is, how it made them feel, maybe if there’s some video involved, possibly.”
Garneau said he just has to learn to adapt.
“When you get at-bats consistently in a row, that definitely helps out,” he said. “But that’s the hand I’m dealt up there. I have to learn to keep my swing consistent when I’m called upon, that way I can have good at-bats.”
Now it’s all a matter of getting Garneau back to his comfort zone at the plate.
“We’re just trying to get him to consistently move his body to put himself in the best position to impact the ball the way I know he can,” Everson said. “He’s a guy that can really handle a fastball and impact that ball. He showed that in the big leagues this year as well. We’re just trying to make it consistent as possible.”
Garneau said he felt much more comfortable as far as catching went.
“This year I did feel more comfortable,” he said. “I didn’t hit like I wanted to, but learning how to control the staff we have, the starters and the bullpen, it was a lot more fun for me. We were in games every day.”
That new aspect, winning, makes Garneau want to get back to Denver even more.
“It’s awesome up there,” he said with a smile. “It’s definitely a different environment than the last couple of years I’ve been up there. This team is good enough to go to the playoffs, good enough to win the West, good enough to beat everyone in the game.”
Not that Garneau needs any more motivation, but he announced on social media that he and his wife are expecting their third child, less than a year after welcoming twin boys.
“It’s busy, really busy, but my wife does a great job with that, keeping it under control,” he said. “It’s been real fun.
“You learn everything really quick. Basically I can’t come home from a game mad. I show up and they’re happy to see me, that’s the best part.”
Garneau did not play in the Isotopes’ 8-6 loss to the Oklahoma City Dodgers on Tuesday night. He should be behind the plate tonight at 7:05 in the second game of the series.