While no player likes to go backwards, Dayton Dragons outfielder Mitch Piatnik admits his time back at Billings helped.
Piatnik, who was on the Dragons’ Opening Day roster this season, had a few flaws that needed to be fixed. He also needed a chance to clear his head.
The centerfielder was hitting .240 with the Dragons when he was sent to extended spring training in Arizona and then to Billings.
“It was huge,” Piatnik said of the time at Billings. “I made a lot of simple adjustments and I just stuck with that game plan through my games at Billings.”
At Billings, Piatnik was hitting .333 in 11 games before rejoining the Dragons on July 1.
“I was starting to get in my own way (mentally),” Piatnik said of his first stint at Dayton. “Once I figured that out, it became simple. I know if I stick with the changes I made I’ll be fine. If I have a bad at-bat now, I know exactly what I did and can make the adjustment and that puts my mind at ease.”
Settling in: It has been a whirlwind turnaround for Cincinnati’s top two draft picks.
Nick Senzel (the first-round selection) and Chris Okey (second-round selection) have signed, been to Arizona for physicals, traveled to Billings and moved on to Dayton within two weeks.
“My body is still catching up,” Senzel said. “Every day I feel a little better. It’s about getting in a routine, but this is a great group in the clubhouse. It has been a quick pace.”
For Okey, a catcher, the fast-paced advancement has also meant trying to learn new pitchers on the fly.
“That is definitely a big part of things because they have to be confident and comfortable with me,” the Clemson product said. “I feel pretty good, but it has been in fast forward so far, but it has been really, really fun.”
Remember Pat: The loss of women’s college coaching legend Pat Summitt had an effect on Senzel.
A Tennessee product, Senzel met Summitt as a kid but never got a chance to sit down and talk with the women’s basketball legend as a student with the Volunteers.
“You look at the legacy she left,” Senzel said. “The impact she had on women’s basketball and in sports. She changed her game forever and left a mark in the world of sports.
“She displayed every great character as a winner, as a coach and as a mentor, and it is a sad time for the Tennessee community.”