The world of baseball is vast, but for Lincoln Saltdogs hitting coach Tommy Gregg it can be small.
Gregg's office is next to Saltdogs manager Brett Jodie, but for a time that office belonged to former manager Ken Oberkfell.
In 1988, Oberkfell and Gregg were part of an MLB trade between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves. Oberkfell was shipped to Atlanta on Aug. 28 with Gregg completing the trade on Sept. 1 to the Pirates as a player to be named later.
Flash forward to 2021 and Gregg has turned the Saltdogs' lineup into a batting nightmare for opposing pitchers in the month of July.
Lincoln has 30 home runs this month, the most in the American Association, while batting .297 over the last 10 games, and doesn't seem to be cooling off.
Over the last five games, Lincoln is 4-1 and is batting .356 throughout the lineup with nine home runs.
“Hitting is really contagious and it goes both ways,” Gregg said. “When you're cold hitting everybody seems to be cold. Maybe a couple guys stay consistent, but when a couple guys get hot and are consistent you kind of keep that trend going. (Josh) Altmann is on fire all month and really solidified the middle of the lineup.
“Our chemistry is really good. We are loose and playing good; top of the lineup has been good, and the bottom of the lineup is starting to do some things for us. If one guy didn't get it done the guy behind him might. It just has that feel of everyone contributing.”
Gregg's one rule for the Saltdogs is simple — "Know your role."
It's not often Jodie or Gregg give the bunt sign, but that does not always mean the signal is off.
“It's what we've preached to hitters all year long,” Gregg said. “If you see a situation and we don't give you the bunt and that third baseman is back and you have a chance to move runner or get a base hit; I mean guys are doing that on their own. We'll give the bunt every once in a while, but a lot of guys are drag bunting and putting the pressure on the defense.”
Kansas City BBQ: Lincoln was 7-4 against Kansas City (35-20) heading into Thursday's final regular-season meeting. The Saltdogs won the season series against the American Association's South Division leader. No other team in the league has beaten Kansas City more than three times this season.
Streaking Saltdogs: Five different Saltdogs have current hitting streaks of five or more games.
Ryan Long entered Thursday on an eight-game hitting streak while going 13-for-30 at the plate with five runs, two doubles a home run and four RBIs. Justin Byrd was riding a seven-game streak adding eight runs batted in on two home runs, two doubles and an 11-for-29 performance in that stretch.
Yanio Perez and Curt Smith have each found a hit in their last six games, while Forrestt Allday has six RBIs, a home run and a double in a five-game streak.
The centerpiece: The stories that have highlighted the Journal Star's sports sections in July
The big headline. The big photo. The centerpiece. We've collected the stories that have stood out the most this month.
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