Good afternoon and greetings from Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium, where the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will take on the Burlington Bees in matinee baseball at 12:05. 20-year-old Venezuelan right-hander Victor Diaz is scheduled to take on Daniel Hurtado in the final game of a four game series, which Burlington currently leads 2-1.
Today's game is the third game back for second baseman Chris McFarland, who is coming back from spending over a month on the disabled list. McFarland was one of Wisconsin's best hitters before getting hurt, and said it's hard not to try to make up for lost time when coming off the DL.
"The first game I was pressing too hard, trying to make sure I was on time and stuff. I didn't relax," McFarland said of Saturday's game, when he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. "This last game (Sunday) I was just trying to relax and pretend I didn't miss any games. It's always hard to come back and get your timing."
When players come back from injury in the major leagues, they frequently go out on a rehab assignment to ease back into facing live pitching. Minor leaguers at the lower levels don't always get that luxury, so they try to get ready to come back with the tools available to them.
"I took some live BP off some of our pitchers, and in the cage I'll work and turn the machine up and try to see hard stuff, but nothing really compares to actual game action," McFarland said.
McFarland is still only 21 and is hitting .270/.333/.466 in 43 games for Wisconsin, including a 2-for-4 game with a double on Sunday.
Meanwhile, first baseman Garrett Cooper is out of the lineup again today. Cooper, who was with Wisconsin for 32 games at the end of last season, opened the 2014 season with Brevard County but was returned to the Timber Rattlers after hitting .219/.317/.314 in 32 Florida State League games.
"I started the first half off a little slower than I expected, and now I'm just back down here trying to find my swing, get back up on the horse, drive in some runs and help this team win," Cooper said.
Cooper has been off the last couple of days after straining his quad running out a hit on Friday. He hasn't been placed on the disabled list, and hopes to be back in the day or two. In the meantime, he's taking advantage of the opportunity to get some rest.
"Day-in, day-out, you've got to get your rest," Cooper said. "It's a long season and you don't have many days off during the season, so get your rest, come out here with a good attitude every day because there are so many games."
Cooper's three-hit game on Friday was his first of the season. He has ten hits in his first 28 at bats since coming back to Wisconsin, and said he hasn't had any issues staying focused while changing teams.
"That's part of minor league baseball, you're always moving around. That's part of the job."