It was a beautiful evening here in Clearwater for the annual “Meet the Threshers” picnic for season ticket holders. It’s a fun time where we had a chance to have a nice meal and hob-knob with the players.
After everyone had a chance to eat, the voice of the Threshers, Kirsten Karbach introduced the team.
As minor league training camp is winding down, the mood and tempo is also winding down. The mood is more quiet, more like waiting for it all to be over. I took most of yesterday to try to catch the few players I haven’t seen yet as well as chat with a few of my friends before they leave.
I found something new to be fascinated with. I have long had a fascination with the knuckle ball. But now it’s with Hoby Milner’s side arm pitch. I’ve long been a fan of and friend of Hoby. He’s a great kid who had some struggles and changed his pitch from the usual overhand to a full-fledged side arm.
I was trying to cover both games so I missed his first inning but according to the BlueClaws Blog, he threw two scoreless innings. I didn’t get any video, but wish I had. Once I started watching, I could not turn away.
While I didn’t have video, I have placed the photos in sequence so you can get a feel of the motion:
The sound and movement of the ball was unique. It had a different kind of “whoosh” to it and it seemed to almost swerve from Hoby’s hand, out to the right of the batter and at the last second, swerve back over the plate. The batters just didn’t know what to make of it. In the inning I saw, there were times that the batters would just stand there as the ball went by, not knowing how to time their swing. It was really cool to watch. I almost forgot to take pictures.
Something else that I saw that was different is Ben Lively’s fastball. I’ve hung around bullpens enough, right behind the catcher, that it really doesn’t phase me. I am usually immune to the snap that the ball makes as it crashes into Logan Moore’s glove. I’ll admit, the first time I heard Lively’s fastball, it actually startled me. I jumped and almost dropped my phone.
HERE’S VIDEO of Lively pitching. The first and third pitches are “normal” and the second is one of the fastballs.
Those were the two things that I enjoyed watching. Today is the last full day of camp. Tomorrow there will be some drills/intra-squad early before the guys shower and load their equipment onto the trucks to go north. I hope to be there to say good-bye to my friends.
This is the part I hate about spring training, the cuts. It’s especially tough when you know the guys like Baseball Ross and I do. Some of this week’s cuts, come close to home, as we have known some of these guys for years and one is one of our “baseball sons”.
The first was pitcher Lino Martinez.
Then my friend, catcher Jesus Posso
Then short stop Dylan Bosheers
Also Scott Tomasetti, catcher
Pitcher Andrew Godail
Former Stanford quarterback, pitcher Evan Crower
And finally, the one that tears me up and breaks my heart, my first baseball “son” and last years’ Williamsport Crosscutters Booster Club Fan Favorite:
Feliberto wasn’t just any player, he was/is/will always be one of my favorites. We met him four years ago when he began his career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and I am grateful to have had the last four years where he has called us his “American Parents”.
I always joked that he was meant to be my “son” as we have the same crazy sense of humor and the two of us could understand each other without even talking…much to Ross’ chagrin. Feliberto and I could play jokes on Ross and before he knew what was going on, Feliberto and I would be laughing hysterically.
While I didn’t mention him by name, he is the one that caused my “crazy trip to the Tampa Airport post” (you can read that fiasco HERE) When I got him back to go to hotel that night, he wouldn’t let me leave until he gave me the gift he had made for Ross and I and it is one of my most cherished possessions.
It says “Special for my parents, I love you Mom and Dad”.
That year, he had hurt his knee at Thanksgiving and was flown first to Philly for surgery then here to Clearwater for rehab-which is why I had picked him up at the airport.
While rehabbing, he was here for a month, returning to the Dominican just two days before Christmas. The day before he left, he was allowed to leave the hotel for the afternoon and we had an “American” Christmas.
Baseball Ross asked me to add:
“In Sanchez’ last two games he pitched five innings and struck out NINE…yet he was never given a chance to move up to Lakewood.”
Even now, I get a little choked up seeing the plaque because it means that much to me. It hangs right by my chair in the livingroom and even though he’s back in the Dominican, he’s never far from my heart. The only thing that’s changed over the years is that I’ve dropped the term “baseball”, he is my son. Hopefully, one day soon we can get together again.
Today I was given a paper copy of the Spring Training schedule for the Phillies, Blue Jays, Yankees and Pirates minor league teams. As far as I know, it’s not online anywhere else. I hope it’s helpful…