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Sindlinger valuable for Reno

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

Reno infielder Chuck Sindlinger has been itching to get back to full-time duty and pick up where he left off.

Sindlinger was on a bit of an offensive tear when he sprained his left ankle prior to a game a couple of weeks ago. He was hitting .299, and had taken over the shortstop position.

“It feels like it’s been a month,” Sindlinger said before a recent game. “It’s day-to-day.”

Sindlinger went 1-for-4 on Wednesday against Yuma as Reno’s designated hitter. He’s obviously hoping for more playing time, but his fellow infielders – Bub Madrid, Mike Done, Sam Walker and Maurice Cole have all been swinging the bat well.

Injury notwithstanding, this has been a productive summer for the 23-year-old Sindlinger, who played his high school ball at Galena. He’s hitting the ball better than he ever did at Long Beach State. The best he hit for the Dirt Bags was .288 in 2003, his freshman season.

“It (the pitching) is about what I expected,” Sindlinger said. “I equate it to Double-A. There are some real good pitchers who can really locate. Guys here have all proven something at some point in their careers. Some of them might not have been able to locate like they were expected.”

Sindlinger has had experience with wooden bats before. He played in a wood bat league after his junior year because he needed to put up some good numbers to prove to people that he could swing the bat.

After a .167 senior season, there had to be some naysayers out there, but Sindlinger has quieted the doubters.

“I got him into using his hands better,” said Done, the Silver Sox’s hitting coach. “With metal bats, you can get jammed and still hit the ball (well). With wood bats, you have to find the barrel. He’s staying back a little better.

“He has a lot better approach. He has a better idea of what he wants to do with his at-bat.”

Sindlinger batted No. 2 many times during his career with Long Beach State, and he’s adept at bunting and hitting behind the runner. He’s a singles and doubles hitter, and that fits in well because Reno has a number of power hitters in Kane Simmons, Jose Rodriguez, Victor Hall and Juan Senreiso.

His versatility defensively might be his biggest asset to the Silver Sox. He can play second, short and third, though he’s seen more action on the left side of the infield this season.

“That really helps (his value),” Done said. “I talk to him a lot about being a utility player. I’ve been one my whole life. With the Orioles, I played first, second and third.

“We talk about how to be ready to play each position. It’s very tough mentally.”

Sindlinger is a tough guy, and a hard-working guy. You don’t get to be a Dirt Bag unless you play all-out all the time. It’s second nature for Sindlinger.

“I was always taught to practice hard,” Sindlinger said. “When Mac (coach Gary McNamara) came in, he set the tone for having a good practice. I just carried it on to Long Beach. It’s what I lived for. It helped me at Long Beach State.”

One thing Sindlinger appreciates is the mental part of professional baseball, especially on offense.

“You don’t live and die with every at-bat,” Sindlinger said. “In college, if you have one bad at-bat you could be on the bench. If you go 0-for-4, you might not play the next day.

“Something I learned from a coach in Florida. You take every 20 at-bats and evaluate from that.”

Time is critical for Sindlinger, and he knows it. Like everybody else in the Reno clubhouse, Sindlinger wants an opportunity to play affiliated baseball at some point. He had some interest from the Yankees and Tigers, but his lack of production at the plate his senior season took care of that.

“I’m still on the bubble in terms of the age where I could still go play low A-ball,” Sindlinger said. “That’s everybody’s hope in this room. Some of them have already had that chance already and want it again.”

All Sindlinger wants is an initial opportunity to display his skills.

If he can regain the form before he sprained his ankle, he could certainly spark some interest.

Any minor league team should be able to use a slick fielder and solid contact hitter.

Only time will tell if he can realize his childhood dream.