The priority for minor league baseball managers is player development, which is why Albuquerque's Lorenzo Bundy took pride when the Los Angeles Dodgers went on a 42-8 run to soar to the top of the National League West standings.
“It's been historic,” Bundy said. “You can't help but be excited for them, especially having worked with a few of those guys.”
Players currently on Albuquerque's roster, other than shortstop Dee Gordon, didn't factor in the remarkable two-month run. But Bundy has coached some players on Los Angeles' roster, including starting catcher Tim Federowicz and Midwest City product Matt Kemp.
“I had the Oklahoma kid when I was in Vegas (when it was the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate),” Bundy said. “Obviously you want to win here, too. We've had a tough stretch in August. It came out of nowhere. We were playing pretty well. That's been frustrating. But your parent club playing well is the ultimate goal.”
On June 21, the Dodgers were 30-42, in the NL West cellar, 9½ games out of first.
Over the next two months Los Angeles' 42-8 run pushed the overall record to 72-50. Entering the week, the Dodgers owned an 8½-game lead.
“What went on the first couple of months was really hard times for the organization because everyone expected to win,” Bundy said. “When you have the injury bug, and you don't have all your horses, it's tough.
“But no one ever expected them to play this well. This just doesn't happen very often. The thing about it is they also ran through some pretty good teams, playoff contenders, first-place teams. They just rolled right through them.”
Gordon briefly was with the Dodgers before being sent back to Albuquerque on Sunday.
“There's a buzz in LA,” Gordon said. “They've been playing really good baseball. My job is to keep it simple and play good baseball here, be ready if they call.”
Albuquerque pitcher Red Patterson, who pitched at Southwestern Oklahoma State, said the Isotopes watch Dodgers games when the schedules don't conflict.
“It absolutely trickles down,” Patterson said. “It's been fun watching a few of the guys you've played with. We all realize there's a chance they may call up any one of us. We all have to be ready to go help.”
Tony Gwynn Jr., son of the Hall of Fame outfielder, has played in 605 major league games with the Brewers, Padres and Dodgers, including 103 games with the Dodgers last season. The 30-year-old veteran has been with Albuquerque all season.
“It's a great feeling anytime you're in an organization that's winning,” Gwynn said. “But we have to focus on our business here. We all have a job to do.”
Albuquerque's situation is completely opposite of the RedHawks'.
Of the 25 players on the Houston Astros' roster, 14 have played in Oklahoma City this season. In contrast, the Isotopes have had just a couple of players on the LA-Albuquerque shuttle the past two months.
“When things are going good up there we don't hear a whole lot from them,” Bundy said. “Early in the year, it was frustrating for everybody. When they had a lot of injuries there was some movement, but the roster here has stayed pretty much the same for quite a while.”
Bundy, 53, has been the Dodgers' Triple-A manager since 2011. He's also been a hitting coach with Tucson and was the Arizona Diamondbacks' first base coach in 2009.
“I've been around this game a long time,” Bundy said. “There's still a lot of baseball left. Winning 42 out of 50 puts you in position to do some things but you still have to play good baseball down the stretch. Hopefully a few of these guys here can help them in September.”