The long season is finally nearing a close for the Tacoma Rainiers, as they are in the midst of their final homestand.
For Jaycob Brugman, a Rainiers outfielder and designated hitter, the end of the season will be about trying to stay loose and building off his past two months with the club.
“I’m going to try to keep up what I’m doing,” Brugman said. “Try to build off a good short stretch that I had, and carry on into the offseason. If I could take a good feeling into the offseason that’s always good, you just build off it and get ready for next year.”
Brugman has been a bright spot for the Rainiers this season, having hit a team-high 16 home runs, with the most recent coming in Tacoma’s series opener against the Fresno Grizzlies on Thursday.
The 27-year-old was strong at the plate that day, driving in three runs with three hits along with the homer. But it was his first time hitting a ball over the fence in two weeks.
“He got some pitches to handle yesterday, you know he didn’t put a whole lot of pressure on himself he just put a good swing on a good pitch,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said. “I haven’t felt like he’s scuffling a whole lot. Everyone goes through ups and downs, but it wasn’t like I was concerned about all the stuff he’s swinging at.”
Despite not hitting home runs recently, Brugman had been making good contact, and had a couple multi-hit games in that same stretch. Though after a week-long road trip, Brugman says that he and the team got a boost in their first action back at Cheney Stadium on Thursday.
But Brugman has also benefited from being with the team consistently since June. While he did arrive late in the season after being signed as a free agent on May 31, Brugman has been a figure in the Rainiers lineup since then.
“I don’t think we have anyone who’s played more than 65 games [this year],” Brown said. “He got here a little late but he’s showing us what he can do… but he’s earned the right to be in there every day. He’s got power and he drives in runs just like yesterday, he’s put himself in a good spot.”
He’s only been in Tacoma for a few months, but Brugman has already built a strong rapport with hitting coach Roy Howell and his teammates and credits the organization’s culture and atmosphere for his development as a hitter this season.
“Being with a few different teams, it’s all about the atmosphere for me,” Brugman said. “If you get a good player-coach atmosphere, it’s so fun. It just creates better camaraderie between teammates and coaches and staff. This organization has done a good job of that, and I feel pretty at home here.”
The Rainiers will most likely not be making a postseason run after this homestand concludes and they finish up their regular season on the road, but as their season winds down, Brugman and the Rainiers are still seeking to win as many games as possible, and have as much fun as he can.
“The best thing we could do as a team is to have fun playing the game we love and bring it back to the basics,” Brugman said. “Just like a kid, just play hard.
“The way I could end up with the best possible stats is if I just play loose and have fun and don’t worry about it.”