Quick Change ChadMay 23, 2012
“I was just sitting at home during the off-season and I just thought it might be best if everyone called me by my real name,” said Stang, who now prefers Chadwin, his given name (@ChadwinStang). “It’s kind of unique, and I wanted to stick with it for this year. So I asked for the trade and they said for sure, it’s your name, you can have whatever you like!”
Also among the off-season upheaval, Stang sold his 1957 Volkswagen Beetle, a vintage ride that he and his brother Cory cherished with pampered pride.
“My brother was kind of upset but he understood where I’m at right now,” said Stang. “When I got home, I realized since I’ve owned it I still haven’t driven it…I would come home and the weather isn’t fit for it. It was tough to really enjoy it so I thought let someone else enjoy it. But who knows, maybe down the road I can get another one.”
The Timber Rattlers outfielder also grew out his hair. His locks were longer back in his native British Columbia as a way to keep his head warm, so the growth process continued upon his arrival back in Appleton, where achieving consistently warm weather takes some patience.
Superstitious? Not Stang. Everything he does on and off the diamond has a purpose.
“I like to make little changes here and there,” said Stang. “The only real superstition I have this year is I kiss my wrist before I go up to bat. Sometimes I’ll do it after a home run here and there because I got a new tattoo there, and I like to keep close to my family.
“The relationship we have is really close and it just reminds me that they are here with me every time I step on the field.”
Being back on the same Class A field certainly is a mixed bag of emotions for Stang, who worked his way onto the Wisconsin roster after bouncing back from a spring training injury in 2011. His abbreviated season in the Midwest League resulted in a .269 average in 65 games, socking two home runs and swiping a dozen stolen bases, numbers not glossy enough to produce a promotion.
“At first I was a little disappointed,” admitted Stang. “I wanted to go to Brevard County, but I took this as a blessing. I get to play centerfield every day, work on things during my at bats and when I stepped back and looked at the whole thing I’ve only really played pro ball for one full season.
“So this is just a blessing, because I’m here, ready to play every day and give it all I’ve got for the people here in Appleton.”
It may be the same setting and uniform, but Stang is now patrolling centerfield for the Timber Rattlers on a regular basis, an assignment worth getting defensive about.
“Playing time was a big thing for the Brewers and I think that was the plan for me to come back, play every day and actually play centerfield, which I didn’t play very much last year,” said Stang. “I was OK with that, but centerfield is easier for me, it’s more natural and I love to play in center. I get to work on all the little things about playing centerfield and be more vocal helping my teammates see what I see, and trust develops over time with that.”
Cozier in the outfield, Stang is now focused on matching that warm fuzzy feeling at the plate. With the help of a Brewers spring training testing station, Stang graded out to have some of the best velocity off his bat.
“They were doing this because of my injury in 2010 and they test to see if there is a difference between bat speed with a two hand follow through or one hand,” said Stang. “My injury in 2010, I tore my labrum because of hitting and letting go with one hand, so that was the main thing.
Stang explained the process, likening it to being hooked up to simulate a character in a video game. Sporting nothing but sliding pants and shoes, each hitter got marked from head to toe with sensor “bubbles” that churned information back into a portable bio-mechanics “lab.” Out of some 75 hitters tested in Arizona from all walks of the Brewers system, Stang registered superior bat speed.
“Since I was little people have seen my fast hands,” said Stang. “The last couple of years I’ve really focused on just letting my hands do the work and trusting that they are going to get the bat to the ball.
“I’m more comfortable now with two hands but it allows me to say I have fast hands and I can rely on that more. Let the ball travel further, deeper and work from there. It gives me a little extra security and makes it a little easier swinging the bat.”
Stang is hoping this fresh discovery of baseball science will come in handy when he steps into the batter’s box. The baseball tools he has been blessed with can now continue to compliment the ones where there is still work under construction.
“Growing up, the quick hands have always been there along with hand and eye coordination,” said Stang. “Working with my brother growing up, he was my inspiration for baseball and we did a lot of exercising and core work. I think I have a lot of good core strength and that gives me an advantage because I’m not the biggest guy, not the strongest or tallest, but I do have that little extra quickness in my core and in my hands.”
What Stang does with this newfound swing analysis will be reflected in his numbers during his encore season in Appleton. But another lost opportunity, like the one that sidelined him for all of 2010, could render his distinctive data useless.
“The big key for me right now is staying healthy,” said Stang. “I had those little nagging injuries with me in spring training but those are the kind of things that will be with me the whole year. It’s disappointing, but I’m doing well with it.”
Any injuries incurred will be strictly baseball related according to Stang, the former hockey player who still skates during the winter months back home, but on a far less competitive agenda.
“It’s just a league where we go around and have some fun, nothing serious,” Stang assured. “That competitive stuff, I have to stay away from because baseball is my career. It’s hard to get rid of it completely…I don’t think I could go back and NOT play.”
Stang also discovered a way to feed his appetite on the ice and still send players to the penalty box without ever dropping the gloves.
“I did ref hockey, which was different,” said Stang. “It was good money and the games were all at night, so I could do all my baseball stuff in the morning and then go ref hockey, which was fun. I like to let guys play but there were two different leagues. We had men’s over 30 and men’s over 19 and the older guys get the penalties called more and they always thought they knew the game. Obviously, I had to let some stuff go and as I reffed more games I realized I’ve got to call more things. I found out if you call it both ways and stay consistent there’s not really much complaining going on.”
(Photos by Brad Krause)
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