Jorge Alfaro, the new catcher acquired in the Cole Hamels trade, played today in a Gulf Coast League game.
Alfaro played three innings–hit two strong line drives that might have gone out, if the wind didn’t blow it back in.
Sometimes, the surreal happens. Sometimes, when it happens, you have to keep it quiet to respect someone’s privacy until the event is over.
This is one of those times.
Earlier this week, I received an email from a scout from the Texas Rangers. He had viewed my Youtube Channel and liked what he saw. He wanted to know if I had additional video on three other minor league players as well.
I was lucky enough to get to meet him this week and was blown away when he introduced me to another scout (this one from the Braves) with the introduction, “If you ever need video on these guys, you have to look at her Youtube channel.” I was so flattered. Baseball Ross and I have worked really hard to build up our library of video of the young guys and to know it was appreciated on a “professional” level was rather cool.
So when I heard that the Rangers were going to get Hamels, I was floored. For once, I was on the “inside” looking out, not the other way around…and the view was amazing.
Day two of spring dawned cold, so cold that records were broken throughout the Tampa Bay area. At our house in Dunedin, the temperatures when I woke up were at freezing.
Amazingly enough, by the time we got to the Carpenter Complex, t temperature was similar to yesterday’s temperature at 47°, but the wind had died down. It was a much more comfortable day.
I began the day watching the major-league pitchers in their PFPs.
We also ventured over to the half field next to Bright House stadium. Here, we saw Cody Asche and Darin Ruf taking ground balls.
Baseball Ross and I stayed until The major-league players broke for lunch. Ross and I grabbed lunch ourselves then returned to catch the minor-league players who are already in camp practice. The pitchers have been throwing live batting practice to several of the position players who have reported early as well.
It was a much better day weather wise but we hurried home as today was “Tardy Mardi Gras” in Dunedin. Since the weather was horrid on Tuesday, the parade with more than 50 floats and tons of beads, doubloons, candy and toys was held tonight. It was a blast and I think I did rather well.
Tomorrow the weather is predicted to be in the 70s so here’s to better days.
This is NOT how you want to start “Spring” Training. It was only a high of 50 with 25mph winds blowing in from the North. It was sunny, but it really didn’t help very much. Sadly, tomorrow will likely be worse as there is a “hard freeze” warning here, meaning it will be under freezing for several hours. So it’s a little iffy if I will be there much tomorrow and if I am there, for how long.
The chilly weather didn’t deter the Phillies Phaithful who braved the elements to see their favorite players. Usually on the first day, the program starts with a talk to the pitchers and it traditionally was given at “Seven Mounds” or the pitching mounds behind the main complex building. Ross and I thought that they may get a late start and would have the meeting inside. We got to the complex at 11 to find that they were out at 10 and were already into the PFPs or Pitcher Fielding Practice.
The first day is always a blast for me. Baseball Ross and I have been going to Spring Training for so long that we have gotten to know a lot of the regulars and it’s almost like a family reunion. That first day is always full of handshakes, hugs and catching up.
I also got to see a few of my favorite minor leaguers, which to me is my favorite part. I’ve known a bunch of these guys for what has been their entire careers and it’s nice to be remembered for always being there.
After the MLBers were done around noon, Ross and I left to get warm and grab something to eat and on our way home we passed the complex to see some players out. We were treated by getting to watch some of our MiLBer friends pitching live batting practice.
It looks like our minor leaguers reported to camp healthy and in great shape. Carlos Alonso smacked two almost out of the park, one died half way up the fence BUT it had been hit INTO THOSE ROARING WINDS! One of the guys remarked to him, “Hey Los, how about saving some?”
Colin Kleven looked really sharp and had a really crisp breaking pitch. He left a big smile on pitching coach Steve Schrenk’s face.
That’s it from Day One.
To paraphrase Steinbeck (and badly at that), it is the spring of my discontent. I love baseball, I do, but I’m so frustrated with it, so discontent.
There’s so many reasons…almost too many to count, but I’ll try.
1. The injury bug bit early, often and viciously. Roman Quinn, Jiwan James, Cole Hamels, Ethan Martin, Cameron Rupp, Kelly Dugan, Tommy Joseph, Mitch Walding, Adam Morgan, Hugo Arrocha, Josh Warner, Steven Inch, Nic Hanson, Chase Numata, Cory Bass, Darin Ruf, Rivar Angulo, Delvy Francisco, Mike Adams, Chris Bootcheck, Yoel Mecias, Anthony Phillips, Colin Klevin, Hoby Milner, Ryan Demmin, Aaron Altherr, Larry Greene, Zach Green, Brandon Short, Drew Anderson, Freddy Galvis, Andres Blanco and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. These are the guys I can think of right off the top of my head! While some of them have returned or are scheduled to return, there are still others that have no timeframe for return.
2. It’s barely a month into the season and Tyson Gillies was suspended for three games for destroying a bat rack in the clubhouse. To me this is a symptom of a larger problem, both with Gillies and the entire system. Gillies is developing a reputation as a guy with anger management issues. Another example happened just two weeks ago here in Florida. Kevin Walter was unhappy with the way things were going during a game in Tampa. He left the field, stormed into the locker room behind the dugout and from where I was sitting I could hear him swearing and a loud thump as if something was either thrown or a table tipped over. Just after that another Thresher player came out of the locker room with a worried look on his face. He stopped another player from going into the locker room saying “You DON’T want to go in there!”
It also is a symptom of how players (and fans) are frustrated with the lack of production and success in the organization. (Read on to number 3 for an example.)
3. The lack of wins. The records speak for themselves:
Iron Pigs 11-13
Of the five teams currently playing in the organization, only TWO are above .500 and both of those teams are only ONE GAME over.
4. Misusing players. I have a prime example of this and it’s the one that had me totally stymied. Last season, there was only ONE Gold Glove winner in the entire Phillies system, Carlos Alonso. Carlos played 2nd for the Threshers and only made TWO errors all YEAR. ALL YEAR. He was promoted to Reading (and rightly so) and where did they have this Gold Glove winning second baseman play? Third and THE OUTFIELD! Really?!? REALLY?!? I’d have loved to sit in on the coaches meeting where they thought up that gem.
5. Bad umpiring. Last night was the end-all, be-all of bad calls. If you read my Twitter feed last night, you could tell how I was seething. The Threshers had been losing (again) and had battled back and had the winning run was at the plate. Pete Lavin had homered earlier in the game to spark the comeback and had come close to a second homer after that. Lavin came to the plate and Bright House Field was buzzing with anticipation. One foul, two fouls, three fouls, four fouls, it was easy to see that Lavin was pushing hard to be the hero. On the final call he checked his swing and from where Ross and I were sitting (and I later confirmed with another season ticket holder with another point of view) we did NOT see him break his wrists and the bat head did not cross the plate. The home plate ump called him out and didn’t even call the base ump to confirm! The game was over! Lavin was livid. If you know Pete, you know he rarely says anything to an ump, he’s fairly laid back. Last night, Lavin walked after the ump to discuss the call. The ump just walked away.
At that point, Nelson Prada got involved. When he started he seemed more in disbelief that the home plate ump didn’t even check with the base ump. I was just turning to leave when I heard Prada go ballistic! (While I am “censoring” this he used the full words) “That’s F*ing BS! That’s a F*ing BS call!”
I have to say, I was right there with Prada. While I’ve been known to occasionally heckle an ump and sitting behind home is great for that, I do not swear. There’s kids and it’s just not “proper”. Last night was the closest I’ve ever come to losing my cool and joining Prada with F-bombing the ump. My blood boiled! To end a game on a bogus call and not even check with the base ump when the winning run was at the plate was just bogus. I was so frustrated and angry. It took me a good hour after the game to cool off. I don’t think I’ve ever been that angry at a game.
I must admit I’m still sort of angry, angry and discontent enough that if Ethan Stewart and Colin Kelvin (returning from the DL) were not pitching today and tomorrow, I wouldn’t go.
If you want to see me try to decide if I’ll go tonight, watch this video, it’s pretty accurate as to how I’m feeling…
Starting Thursday, the Threshers are on the road, so I’ll get a break then, but man, I’ll be dragging myself in tonight. It’ll almost be like trying to drag myself into work on a “Monday morning”.
Let’s hope that Stewart and Kleven use this misfortune as a jumping off point so that we do not end the first month of the season with only 5 wins. If they do, we would be on pace to go 25-115 (assuming they’d continue with winning 5 games a month).
It was a nearly perfect day here in Clearwater Sunday, Cole Hamels on the mound and hounds in the stands–it was Bark in the Park.
Hamels did well, though he gave up two home runs—to the same guy!
Here he is as the first batter—hitting the first home run.
To me, it was one of my favorite games of the year, Bark in the Park. We have a 7 year old shih tzu named Veronica. She’s one of a kind. She loves baseball almost as much as I do. Every time we ask her if she wants to go to a game she goes nuts.
Here she is in her jersey sitting in my season ticket seat. Also notice her Reading Phillies leash.
We couldn’t stay there in the sun so we moved back into the shade. She also has a little baseball cap.
She loves to see the other dogs and actually will sit and watch the game. She’s usually pretty vigilant until about the seventh and by the bottom of the eighth, she was worn out.
While the Threshers lost, we still had a great time.
It’s been four days since pitchers and catchers officially reported to camp. Newly signed pitcher AJ Burnett held a press conference and is in camp. Today was also the day when the last two remaining position players reported. Historically, Jimmy Rollins has been one of the last, but this year he was joined by returning Phillie Bobby Abreu.
Bobby Abreu was greeted warmly by fans as he walked to the clubhouse after taking batting practice. He returned the favor with a nice tip of his cap.
I almost felt like I was in a time warp. What’s old is new again.
Cole Hamels participated in pitching drills again today.
Another thing I like to see is that pitcher Jesse Biddle wears high socks. Last year ended the long standing tradition of rookies having to wear high socks and most of the younger players immediately adopted the long pants. The other reason I like him in long socks is that it makes him easy to pick out at a distance.
Every once in a while, while watching everyone go about their business, you catch a moment, a fleeting glimpse that gives a little peek inside them. Sometimes my favorite pictures are these some of these.
I took one this morning, it’s Cody Asche leaning on the batting cage with a pensive look.
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.
Despite the cold and wind, the guys seemed to be having a good time on their first day.
Veteran Cliff Lee did two runs through the drills, once with the other veterans, once with the younger players.
So there you have it in a nutshell. Day one is in the cold books.