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Interrogation Room: Jeff Isom

January 7, 2010
New Page 1 is kicking off a new weekly feature called The Interrogation Room.  We hope to run this feature weekly for the remaining 13 weeks of the off-season.  The plan is to interview former Timber Rattlers (and maybe Foxes) players and coaches.  If it goes well, we may continue it into the regular season.

In honor of Jeff Isom returning for his second season as the manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, we thought it would be a good idea to have him as the first guest in The Interrogation Room.

Q: You had a chance to work the instructional league for the Brewers after the Timber Rattlers season ended.  What exactly goes on during instructs?

A: During instructs we bring together a small, choice group of our younger players and work them out as well as play in games.  With the smaller groups, it gives us a chance to give the players lots of individual instruction.  We are able to work with these players in specific areas that they need to improve in, for example a player might be doing well with his offense but his defense struggled during the season.  We are able to put more focus on defense and spend the majority of time in that area during our workouts.  It also gives me a chance to see the newly drafted players, which is valuable to me because these are the majority of the players that I will see in the upcoming season.

Q: Did any Timber Rattlers players from the '09 team stand out during instructs?

A: Josh Prince did very well, he improved on his defense and swung the bat well.  Juan Sanchez continued to open eyes on our organization with his ability to play multiple positions at a high level and improving his offensive game.  Evan Frederickson continued where he left off at the end of the season, he ironed out some mechanical issues with his delivery and threw well.  The thing that stood out most of instructional league was the athleticism of our new draft class.

Q: How have you been keeping busy since you returned to Indiana ?

A: Since returning to Indiana , I have been able to get back to my house addition.  It's a project that I've only been working on for seven years, I think it's official that I'm tired of working on it.  The thing that has kept me most busy is being a dad.  I have two children that are six and eight years old, so it's nice to get home and to be a dad.

Q: The Brewers drafted pitcher Eric Arnett, outfielder Kentrail Davis, and pitcher Kyle Heckathorn with their first three picks in the 2009 draft.  Have you heard anything about them possibly starting the 2010 season with the Timber Rattlers?

A: All three of these players were in instructional league and I had a chance to see them in games and workouts.  They are very talented players that all have some college experience.  With that said, I feel that the decision where these players will be placed will depend on how they perform in spring training and what the needs are in Brevard County .  So, there is a possibility.

Q: Prince was the 3rd round pick of the Brewers in the '09 draft and he played shortstop for the last month of the season with the Rattlers.  Is there a chance he could be back with the team or did he do enough to move up to the next level for 2010?

A: This is a decision that will be made in spring training.  There are a few things that will factor in this decision, how well he does in spring training and what the needs are at Brevard County .  If he doesn't come back, there are some very talented young shortstops that were in instructional league that I liked a lot.

Q: Who are they?

A: The two young shortstops that I was talking about were Carlos George and Scooter Gennett. Both players were in instructional league and impressed me.  

Q: What impressed you about them?

A: Both were slick fielding and showed some promise with their bats. Both ran very well. Scooter drafted last year out of high school so he might not be ready at the beginning of the season, he also had a minor injury that sat him out of part of instructional league. Carlos played in the AZL last summer, but caught our attention to how much he improved over the course of the season last year.  What I really like about both players is how coachable they were.  But as I mentioned, both show lots of promise as shortstops.  I know there were other shortstops that we drafted but they didn't attend instructional league.  

Q: Matt Erickson and Chris Hook are back with you as your hitting coach and pitching coach.  What do you three do best as a staff?

A: I'm excited that we are together once again.  I enjoyed working with both of them.  I feel that our staff does a good job of working with the players to develop them.  The players are the main focus for all of us.  We are always accessible to them, if they need some extra work we are always there to give them what they need.  And...we are very good at synchronized swimming, something we work on together on the road in the pool, 2012 Olympics?

Q: Time Warner Cable Field is making some renovations, including moving the bullpens out beyond the outfield fence.  Put yourself in this situation:  You go out to make a pitching change during an inning.  Instead of running in from the bullpen, your reliever rides in on a golf cart or other type of bullpen car.  Your reaction is...

A: Old school...... I remember seeing the carts in the late 70's and early 80's, haven't seen them since.  I think the relievers now have made the run in from the bullpen part of their mental preparation from the game.  Could you see Trevor Hoffman coming in on a cart while Hells Bells is playing?  It just wouldn't be the same.  But I could see the starting pitchers and Chris Hook being carted in before the game.

Q: When do you head down to Arizona for Spring Training?

A: Sometime in early March, still waiting on my reporting date.  I live in Indiana and the temperature is currently in the single digits, so not soon enough!

Q: As a former Purdue baseball player, how do you feel about the start by the Boilermakers' basketball team?

A: I'm wearing my black and gold right now.  I have attended a handful of games and they are fun to watch.  We have our biggest test this weekend, going into the Kohl Center to take on the Badgers.  Be ready for some relentless, in your face defense.  It's a great time to be a Boilermaker fan.  Is this the year?  Boiler Up!

Q: The Colts are in the playoffs with the best record in the AFC.  Do they make it through to the Super Bowl for the second time with Peyton Manning?

A: I am a Colts fan and I hope they do make it to the Super Bowl, but the defense concerns me a little.  The matchup I would love to see is Colts and Saints.  If that was the case, I think I'd have to root for the Drew Brees led Saints.  I'd love to see Brees get a Super Bowl ring.