Odubel Herrera is taking a couple hacks this afternoon. He struck out in his first st bat, but seems in good spirits.
Guess I just got lucky, went to the first minor league game of the season and managed to catch both Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez making rehab appearances. I saw Odubel made 3 at bats and Hernandez 2 (they may have batted more, but as I was covering 2 games-They may have batted more.) Neither played the field.
Many times in minor league spring games, rehabbing major leaguers will bat at the top of every inning until they get their work done.
I was able to get a copy for the extended spring training. Players in extended spring are either rehabbing or will be playing in Short-Season or Gulf Coast League.
Today was one of those days where nothing went as planned but turned out great in the end. I had hoped to see former Blue Jay Pat Venditte make his first appearance at Phillies camp since being traded to the Phils from the Mariners. Since he had just returned from the World Baseball Classic, we thought that he would be at the Phillies’ complex. He was not.
So I jumped in my Mini and headed back to Dunedin and to the Mattick Training Complex where the AA and AAA Phillies and Jays teams were playing. I got to the field as the Jays were taking the field in the bottom of the third inning. Just as I got behind home, the crowd rushed to the fence and when I looked up, I could see why, Josh Donaldson was about to bat.
I have to pause here to say that this was one of the coldest days of the winter. Early this morning, it was 39* F (4*C) and by now, it was in the mid 50s (12.8* C) with a very strong wind coming in from the gulf, right into our faces. It was freezing.
Donaldson took a swing……
Even into that strong headwind, there was no doubt that that ball was going to go out. There was a collective, “Ooooh” from the crowd as the ball cleared the fence and bounced out into the grass near the softball fields on the other side. It was one beautiful shot INTO the wind.
It was his last at bat of the day so I don’t know how his earlier at bats went, but let me tell you, he’s hit long homers into the wind the last two days, there is no doubt that his timing is down and he should be good to go, once he is given the green light to run again.
I never did get to see Venditte, rumor is that he was with the Phillies MLB team. Frankly, I forgot about him once I saw Donaldson hit that homer.
For the most part, we all have the collective memories of Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz, running into the arms of Brad Lidge after winning the World Series in 2008, catching Roy Halladay’s perfect game and the no hitter in the World Series, it’s our collective memory. I feel lucky that I have something a little different.
I’ve been going to Spring Training since 2007, so I’ve tried to get his autograph many times. Until the last few years, he didn’t sign a lot at Spring Training. He was what us autograph hounds call a “hard get” or a hard to get autograph. It always seemed like when I did catch him signing, I’d be the one next to the guy who got the last autograph before Ruiz stopped signing. It was frustrating. I’d spent years trying and had nothing to show for it.
I had a good number of the 2008 World Series team and I was just about at the end of my rope. Then, two years ago, Ruiz was making a rehab appearance after his Adderall suspension. Baseball Ross and I went over to Steinbrenner Field where the Threshers were playing the Tampa Yankees. Being familiar with how the stadium was set up, I went to stand on the third base side to the left of the dugout. Pitchers and catchers usually exit the dugout, walk down the third base side and then down to the visitors’ bullpen that is in the corner by left field. I went down to the front row, just next to that side of the dugout and waited before the game. I was the only one there.
On the other side of the dugout was a large group of fans, pens in hand, waiting. when he exited the locker room and entered the dugout they started screaming, “Chooch! Chooch!” They started jostling and pushing for position. I stayed quiet and alone on the third base line. He looked at the cacophony and quietly turned away and headed for the bullpen.
As he approached me I quietly said, “Excuse me, Mr. Ruiz, would you please sign my ball?” He looked at me and gave that smile and signed for me. I said, “Thank you.” and he replied, “You’re welcome.” With a nod of his head he continued on his was as the gaggle of autograph groupies were loudly running from the other side of the dug out, “Chooching” the entire way.
Ruiz just gave me one last smile as he walked away. It always made me like the guy, I felt like I was just a little bit special. I guess he appreciated my politeness and was turned off by the craziness on the other end.
Ruiz was also the subject of my favorite ballpark giveaway, the “Chooching Owl”. It’s a “hoot”!
I got to the Carpenter Complex just as Cody Asche got to the plate. I wasn’t aware he was going to play and was happy to see him at the plate.
I was then rewarded by getting to see him hit a long homer at Robin Roberts field that landed at the base of Rt 19!
In the words of the great Harry Kalas, “That ball is outta here!”