Phillies Acquire Ambidextrous Pat Venditte!

Today the Phillies acquired AMBIDEXTROUS reliever Pat Venditte from the Mariners for Joey Curletta. We were there when Joey Curletta was told he had been traded. At the time, that was all we knew. Curletta was sitting on the bench during the minor league intrasquad game. He didn’t even know where he was going, he was only told he had been traded and that he needed to go pack.

I hadn’t gotten to know Curletta who was acquired in the Carlos Ruiz trade. I’d seen him around this year but never got the chance to talk.

I was, however, very excited that the Phillies have acquired Venditte! I, like Venditte, am one of those rare people who are ambidextrous. I first became aware of Venditte when an associated press article ran the headline, “Amphibious Pitcher Makes Debut”.

Pat Venditte, Amphibious Pitcher (photo courtesy of the SportingNews.com)
Being ambidextrous isn’t common. According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of the population is right-handed with the remaining 10% being left handed, or a mild combination of left and right handedness. They estimate that only 1% of the population is actually, truly ambidextrous. I was raised “right” and only discovered that I was ambidextrous when I hurt my right hand in an accident. It took less than a week to be able to sign my name with my left similarly to my right handed signature. Full-blown legible writing didn’t take much longer. I’ve gotten to the point that I can sign either way and it usually is dependent on what hand is free to grab the pen. It really comes in handy when painting. I’m an amateur painter and there are times where being able to paint with the “other” hand is just easier so that you don’t drag your hand through paint or you can get a better angle with the brush.

Right hand

Left hand
 

Venditte is currently playing in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy and will join the Phillies here in Clearwater as soon as they are eliminated or the tournament is over. I’m excited to see him and hope I can get his autograph. Us 1%-ers need to stick together, or is that walk hand in hand in hand in hand?

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My Favorite Carlos Ruiz Story

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.

Carlos Ruiz ball next to my signed Roy Halladay’s signed glove

Ruiz was also the subject of my favorite ballpark giveaway, the “Chooching Owl”. It’s a “hoot”!

http://playola.co/p/38cdff

Scenes From Phillies Minor League Spring Training-March 28, 2016

It started out as a muggy afternoon and by the time the games were over, it was breezy and starting to sprinkle. I was kept busy by having the majority of my pitcher friends all pitching in the same game. There were two major leaguers, Carlos Ruiz and Charlie Morton on the other field. I was also lucky enough to meet two fans and the father of a player who loves the pictures of his son that Ross and I have posted. It’s things like that that make what we do so fun.

Here are the two major leaguers:

 

Carlos Ruiz
Carlos Ruiz
Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton

And the rest of the guys:

Scott Kingery
Scott Kingery
Jorge Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro
Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown
Rhys Hoskins
Rhys Hoskins
Grenny Cumana
Grenny Cumana
Cornelius Randolph
Cornelius Randolph
Deivi Grullon
Deivi Grullon
Rodolfo Duran
Rodolfo Duran
Luke Leftwich
Luke Leftwich
Josh Tobias
Josh Tobias
William Cuicas
William Cuicas
Will Morris
Will Morris
Gregory Rivero
Gregory Rivero
Andrew Pullin
Andrew Pullin
Jan Hernandez
Jan Hernandez
Luis Incarnation
Luis Encarnacion

I was excited to get this shot, as Encarnacion hit a homer on this swing.

Robert Tasin
Robert Tasin
Zach Coppola
Zach Coppola
Luis Espiritu
Luis Espiritu
Grenny Cumana
Grenny Cumana-This was as he started to steal second.
Seranthony Dominguez
Seranthony Dominguez
Damek Tomscha
Damek Tomscha
Venn Biter
Venn Biter
Ulises Joaquin
Ulises Joaquin
Felix Paulino
Felix Paulino
Alexis Rivero
Alexis Rivero
Jose Taveras
Jose Taveras

 

Day 2 of Spring Training 2016

Today was a beautiful as yesterday. Highs in the 70s, tons of sun-just a picture postcard kind of day.

Pitchers and catchers did drills and had batting practice. There’s not much you can say, but the pictures tell the story:

 Pop-up drills: the focus was to get rid of the mask and then catch the ball:

Carlos Ruiz

Andrew Knapp

  

Gabriel Lino
  
Cameron Rupp
  

Logan Moore

  

The catchers also had batting practice:

 

Jorge Alfaro

  
Carlos Ruiz

Pitchers did fielding drills:

 

Jimmy Cordero

  
Andrew Bailey

 Later in the afternoon some of the minor league players took the field as well:

 

Zach Green
 
Roman Quinn

  

Carlos Alonso
  
  

For me, the highlight was seeing Carlos Alonso back on the field, seemingly none the worse for his devastating knee injury. 

The Benefits of Being a Local-Watching Major League Pitchers–for FREE

As you know, Baseball Ross and I sold our house up North and moved here to Clearwater, there’s a lot of benefits but one I like is that we can go to the Carpenter Complex thinking we’re just going to watch “the Kids” and get to see Major League talent.

Today was just one of those days. We very nearly didn’t come as it was raining right until we left the house but the sun and the stars came out.

Today it was Kyle Kendrick and Carlos Ruiz.

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It’s hard to watch intra squad games like they are playing in today…what happens is the team with Kendrick and Ruiz start off an inning like you’d expect, but the other team starts each inning in “a situation”. For example, runners at first and third or first and second. Score is not really kept and it’s more for practice than a “game”.

Pitchers and Catchers, Day 1

In Philly, they woke to inches of snow. In Clearwater, we had sun but it was cold (relatively speaking) in the 50s with winds gusting to 30 mph.

The cold didn’t seem to bother the pitchers, catchers or even Chase Utley who also was seen on the field.

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Despite the cold and wind, the guys seemed to be having a good time on their first day.

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Mario Hollands, a lefty, non-roster invitee, smiled as he ran through his drills.

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Jesse Biddle, also a non-roster invitee, looked serious.

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David Buchanan also was working hard.

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Jonathan Papelbon also participated.

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Despite having shoulder tendinitis, Cole Hamels was an active participant in the drills.

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Kenny Giles, who I last saw topping the speed gun in Dunedin at 101mph was in Hamels’ group.

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Sabastian Valle, recently left off the 40-man roster, was working hard.

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Carlos Ruiz looked svelte and ready to take on all comers.

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It was also good to see the return of catcher Lou Marson.

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Veteran Cliff Lee did two runs through the drills, once with the other veterans, once with the younger players.

20140213-182701.jpgAnd finally, in case you missed it, here is the most recent roster given out this morning…although it’s already out of date as Chad Gaudin was released this morning after failing his physical.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Day one is in the cold books.

It’s the End of the World as I Know it, and I Feel Fine…

Ok, it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of the “ticketed” baseball season for me, in all likelihood.

So these are all my tickets for the games we paid for this year (minus a couple that ended up in the laundry). What I have here is SIXTY-SEVEN tickets. This does NOT include all the free/unticketed Spring Training, Extended Spring Training, or Gulf Coast League games!

2013 Tickets (well most of them)
2013 Tickets (well most of them)

I think I can honestly guesstimate that Baseball Ross and I went to over 140 games this year. Ross even more than that, as there were a couple of games I missed for either illness, another commitment or when I was away on vacation.

With Fall Instructional League coming next week, I will add a couple more games to that list….

My project for next season is to buy a journal and log every game I go to. That way I will have an accurate accounting of how many games I’ve actually attended.

It’s been a memorable year. I got some of the autographs I’ve really coveted, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz, I got to know some really great players and it’s all been one amazing year.

In the coming days I will be posting my end of the season articles….and with the year we’ve had, there’s a lot to cover….

Stay Tuned….