Following a dominating three-game sweep over division rival Trenton on the road in which his team outscored the opposition in the series 26-3, Double-A Reading manager Dusty Wathan took some time to talk about the impact on the playoff race the match ups had. He also offered feedback on Roman Quinn‘s health status, Ethan Martin‘s return from the disabled list, Andrew Knapp‘s outstanding offensive output as well as the demotion of a pitcher and plenty more. Read ahead for all the exclusive insight from Dusty.
-You guys came to town tied with the Thunder for a playoff spot and swept them. How big is that for you guys?
It’s good. You come in to play a team that you’re running neck and neck with right there and then you come in and kind of make a statement with a three game sweep, if there are such things as comfortable wins, with three comfortable wins, it’s good for us. We get a little bit of breathing room, but obviously, there’s 30-some games left. There’s a long way to go but we played played really good this series.
-There may be some pressure on the club, as it’s loaded with talent, to win the Eastern League title. Do you think that’s something the club can truly make a run at?
There’s a lot of guys in this clubhouse that I think are going to have successful major league careers and when you have a te]]am like that, especially at this level, you should win some games. I think the last three games are indicative of anything we have going forward and we should have a chance at this thing coming down to the end.
-Is there any update on Roman Quinn, who is out with a hip injury, rehabbing in Florida?
I know he’s doing some baseball activities and stuff down in Florida, but I don’t really have an idea. I’d like to get him back by the end of the season and get him some more at bats, but it’s one of those things that’s kind of day by day and see how he feels and make sure that he’s 100 percent. The way that he plays and the way that he utilizes his legs, I think it’s important that he’s 100 percent coming back.
-Would the be a chance he stays in Florida and maybe plays for Clearwater for the remainder of the season instead of returning to Reading?
I would doubt it. I would say that he’d come back here because he was here and was having some success, so I would say that he come back here, but that wouldn’t be my call.
-Righty Ethan Martin returns off the disabled list, following an ankle sprain. What’s the outlook for Ethan going forward?
He’s just one of the guys in the bullpen. We’re gonna use everybody when they have the opportunity to pitch when it’s their day. Obviously, he came off the DL today, he said he felt fine, so we’re going to use him like we would everyone else. Obviously, Shackleford’s the closer, but everybody else, they’ve got their certain roles and they’ll come in to pitch and we’ll just try to get him acclimated back into game situations.
-Catcher Andrew Knapp‘s be super hot for you guys (.385 average, 34 RBI in 31 games). What’s been the big thing for him?
Obviously, he’s swung the bat really well. He’s made a lot of contact, squaring a lot of balls up, having success from both sides of the plate. I think he’s comfortable. I think it’s one of those situations where you get on a roll and feel good about yourself, the confidence is high and when you have the ability he has, you can put yourself in a good situation every night.
-Is there any pressure on you with a stocked roster right now to get guys at bats?
I don’t think so. For the most part, the guys that are out there are the guys that have been here that are obviously swinging the bat well. I tell these guys, you get to this point in the season, you earn your playing time. You’ve got to swing the bat and you have to produce when you get to this level. Everybody’s kind of got their chance and we’re going to go with the guys that we think are gonna help us win ball games now.
-With the return of Martin to the active roster, is there a corresponding transaction?
Leiter’s gonna go to the Florida State League and start. I think that’s the best situation for him, to leave him as a starter. He was was gonna be toward the bottom of the bullpen here or be the long guy, or whatever, so with the starting pitching we have and some success with guys, we thought it was best instead of him throwing two or three innings a week to go down there and continue to pitch. You know, I told him and I’ll tell you if something happens with anybody (in the starting rotation), more than likely he’d be at the top of the list to come right back.
Wathan also made it clear during the series that he plans to continue to use new acquisition Nick Williams in center field and in the leadoff spot, where he has batted in his first three games with the club. An eventual return of Quinn could result in some shuffling, as both that position and that spot in the batting order previously belonged to Quinn.