Given 72 hours to report, Jon Singleton finally made his way back to the Fresno Grizzlies on Monday.
Major league parent club Houston optioned the lefty slugger, who also spent much of 2014 in the majors, back to Triple-A late last week after acquiring two-time All Star Carlos Gomez in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Singleton, 23, did not mope in the clubhouse before Monday’s Pacific Coast League game against Albuquerque.
But he did, for the most part, stick to himself, which is typical of his routine.
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“It’s definitely frustrating and disappointing,” Singleton said. “But you still have to go on to continue to be successful.
“It is a business. You sometimes have to remind yourself of that. You still have to go out and put the work in.”
Singleton failed to impress much during his monthlong stay with the Astros, though his play time was sporadic.
The lefty hit .205 (9 for 44) with one homer, four runs and six RBIs in 16 games.
He also struck out 16 times while picking up eight walks and posting an on-base percentage of .321.
At the time of his call-up to the Astros in late June, Singleton was crushing Triple-A pitching.
17 homers in 264 at-bats for Jon Singleton, prior to his call-up to majors in late June
He led all hitters at baseball’s highest minor league level with 17 home runs, 56 runs, 66 RBIs and 47 walks while batting .280 with a .387 OBP.
But as often is the case, success in the minors doesn’t necessarily translate to the majors.
Especially when a player doesn’t receive consistent playing time. Of the 16 games he played, Singleton started 12 but never more than three straight.
“To be honest, I don’t really know how to go about it,” Singleton said of coming off the bench or not playing consistently. “It’s a different mindset. You have to be ready, you have to be aggressive.
“You definitely have to come off the bench with a preset attitude. You can’t be surprised by anything. You have to be prepared on a moment’s notice. But it takes time getting used to. You can’t feel your way in.”
9 for 44 Singleton’s numbers, for a .205 average, in 16 games with Houston before his demotion last week
Back with the Grizzlies, Singleton immediately returned to the starting lineup and into the prominent cleanup hitter role.
Though there often can be a drop in production when players return after a stint in the majors, it’s not quite clear how Singleton will respond to his latest demotion. On Monday, he was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and a walk but the Grizzlies rolled to a 6-0 win over the Isotopes.
Last season, Singleton played in Triple-A and the majors. He started the year with then-Astros affiliate Oklahoma City before being promoted to Houston in June and finishing the season in the majors.
A potential playoff team, the Astros are working with a lot more roster depth this season.
Included are proven major league power hitters such as first baseman Chris Carter and designated hitter Evan Gattis, who both helped prevent Singleton from getting a steady dose of at-bats with the Astros.
“He knows where he’s at in the organization,” Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “It’s not like we don’t want him.
“He knows when he got up there, he had a chance. Whatever happened, happened. We traded for a guy. It became a numbers game. But it’s on him to stay motivated to get back up there.”
Grizzlies outfielder L.J. Hoes, who has served as a swing player of sorts for the Astros this season by bouncing back and forth between the majors and minors, said that initial return to the minors can be tough.
“You get this great taste of the highest level of baseball,” Hoes said. “And then it’s taken away for whatever reason and all you want is to stay up there, but it’s not your call.”
Hoes, however, expressed confidence in his good friend’s ability to snap out of the letdown and help the Grizzlies.
Though Singleton is dealing with his first midseason demotion, he already proved he could respond well this season by destroying Triple-A pitching despite getting cut late in spring training.
“I’m just going to pick up where I left off,” Singleton said. “Going to try to hit the ball hard and try to have fun.
“It is what it is. You got to roll with the punches. Of course, I would rather be up there. But it is what it is.”