Home certainly has its advantages.
The Albuquerque Isotopes still have among the best facilities in all of minor league baseball.
And the team and staff has been openly appreciative of the more than 74,000 fans who already have walked through the gates in the frantic 18 home games played in little more than a month since the May 6 opener. For the sake of comparison, soccer team New Mexico United has 16 home games stretched out over its entire season).
But at 9-21, and despite being agonizingly close in recent losses (the past six by a combined nine runs), maybe jumping on a plane for the first of two 12-game road trips will be a winning tonic.
The swing begins Thursday with a six-game set in Salt Lake City, followed by the Wednesday off day and then six more games in Reno.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Isotopes manager Warren Schaeffer said. “Reason being, we work hard when we’re at home in the minor leagues. We’re out there, you know – for a 6:30 (p.m.) game, we’re out on the field by 1:30 p.m. I mean, it’s a long day. So we work hard at home, we rest on the road, you know? We sleep in good hotel beds on the road.
“I enjoy the road, so I’m looking forward to these two weeks. … I think this road trip will be good for us to salvage some energy.”
While 12-hour days for home players and staff are common, road teams resting up a bit more in the team hotels can be a bonus.
And with Triple-A baseball’s new scheduling format this year that includes six-game series played every week Thursday through Tuesday, the Isotopes will have two stretches this season of 16 days between games at Isotopes Park.
In the Isotopes’ 19-year existence, they have had just one other 16-day stretch between home games, and that included the midseason break for the Pacific Coast League All-Star game in 2005.
While there have been eight times the team has had road trips that included 12 games, all previous ones were fit inside 14-day spans between home games.
The franchise’s record-long road trip in terms of games played was 13 consecutive road games in 2006, but those were also played in a 14-day span.
Aside from the potential physical benefits the road trip might bring the team, Schaeffer is also hopeful that his young roster could take some strides mentally over the next two weeks.
“The camaraderie on the road – you’re flying together, you’re making jokes in the airport, you’re just with each other all the time,” Schaeffer said. “You get some relaxed time. … It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the players to get together. It’s a good thing.”
‘TOPES NOTES: The Isotopes’ parent club, the Colorado Rockies, called up infielder Connor Joe on Wednesday and placed infielder Matt Adams on the 10-day injured list with a right elbow strain. In six games with the Isotopes, all in the recent series against Las Vegas, Joe hit .240 with a home run, three doubles and six RBIs.
JOB FAIR: Spectra Food Services and Hospitality, in charge of concessions at Isotopes Park, is hosting a job fair on the Isotopes Park concourse Thursday from 4-7 p.m. The company says there are more than 50 positions available, with many being filled on the spot. Applications, and more information, can be found ahead of time online at ABQIsotopes.com.