The Chattanooga Lookouts had little difficulty with Chattanooga State in Tuesday night's seven-inning exhibition game at AT&T Field, overwhelming the Tigers 11-1.
What has given the Lookouts occasional trouble is determining their manager.
John Valentin guided the Lookouts last season in Chattanooga's first year of affiliation with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Carlos Subero is this year's skipper, but Valentin is back as the hitting coach.
"The pressure is off me now. It's on Carlos," a smiling Valentin said Tuesday. "Whenever people come up to ask me something, and they do keep coming up, I just tell them they have to go to Carlos. It's been a nice transition for me."
Subero (Su-BEAR-o) isn't complaining, either, having been fond of Chattanooga since he and his wife drove from Iowa to their home in Florida after the 2004 season and peeled off Interstate 24 to take pictures at AT&T Field. He was a visiting manager at AT&T two years ago with Birmingham and joined the Dodgers last season as manager of high Single-A Inland Empire in the California League.
Having last year's manager aboard will be a plus, he believes.
"We've had plenty of talks on how we're going to approach things on the field, and we agree on a lot of stuff as far as how we approach it from a discipline standpoint," Subero said. "I won't hesitate asking him anything about Chattanooga or the game. I've never been in a National League environment, so there will be some learning as far as double switches, and he's been through that."
The Lookouts went 65-74 under Valentin, going 30-39 in the first half and 35-35 in the second. Valentin admits he got to the point last year when he wanted to manage and handle the hitting.
"I never really talked with Val about too much last year but hitting," Lookouts left fielder Andrew Lambo said. "It is a little weird, but Carlos is a great manager who has managed in the Southern League. I think Val really likes where he is right now, and I really like him where he's at, too. That's kind of his expertise, because he had a great career as a hitter."
Said Valentin: "It was a lateral move, but it doesn't mean that I'm done managing. We have quite a bit of young guys coming up from California, and Carlos is a fantastic guy and a pretty good manager, and to bring him up and make these guys grow is a good move."
The Lookouts pounced on Chattanooga State with two out in the first inning when Lambo singled to right field and Lucas May followed with a home run to left. They scored five runs in the second inning, which was highlighted by Trayvon Robinson's two-run single to right, Lambo's sacrifice to left and May's RBI double off the wall in center.
Lambo, May, Jaime Pedroza and Dee Gordon each had two hits for the winners.
Chattanooga State, which is 25-7 and leads all NJCAA Division I programs with a .396 average, collected five hits. Andy Marinelli accounted for the only extra-base hit for the Tigers, ripping a two-out double to left off Jesus Castillo in the first inning.
The Lookouts, who return 15 players from a year ago, open their Southern League season Thursday night at 6:15 against visiting Huntsville.
"The guys who experienced the 2009 season here should feel better about themselves," Valentin said. "They know what the expectations are in Double-A and here in the Southern League. You have to make quite a bit of adjustments to different pitchers and different teams, and you hope they're going to make them grow.
"The first-timers are going to get their bumps and bruises, and you hope they're strong enough to come out of it."
New Lookouts pitching coach Danny Darwin said Tuesday that Chris Withrow will start Thursday's game, followed by Alberto Bastardo and Mario Alvarez. John Koronka is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon's game, followed by Jesus Castillo in Monday night's finale.