Spring Training: Day 3

Saturday was a long day… But a fun day. Temperatures were in the mid-80s with little to no humidity in the Phoenix area. You can check out the photo gallery here.

We were up early to head over to Camelback Ranch, spring home of the White Sox and Dodgers. We got there at 8:30 a.m. and talked with Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy and LHP Mark Buerhle, both MWL products. Both very good guys.

By 10:30 a.m., we were in Goodyear to see a few MWL alums now with the Cleveland Indians. Manager Manny Acta was the manager in Quad Cities in 1997 and OF Grady Sizemore played in Clinton in 2001. Again, nice guys. Acta joked that he meant to shave in the morning so he’d look better on camera, but we’ll take what we got.

I know I always claim that people are people, no matter how famous they may be. But today, for the first time in a long time, I was starstruck. When you grow up in Northeast Ohio raised by an upstanding family, you root for the Cleveland Indians, Browns and Cavaliers. When you’re a total nerd like I was/am, you listen to games on the radio. Tom Hamilton (Indians play-by-play man) was the guy I listened to the most and the guy I emulate a bit on the air. Today, Tom came walking out to the field to watch Indians’ batting practice. He might as well have been the mayor of Goodyear, Ariz. People love him. After BP was over, I caught him and introduced myself. It’s one thing to talk to athletes, but it’s quite another to meet one of your role models in your line of work. This might have been the highlight of the trip for me.

Quick note from Indians’ camp: Sizemore was not in the lineup today, but that doesn’t mean it was a day off. After his regular work, he stayed an extra 20 minutes hitting in the cage after everyone else had left. Also, Hall-of-Famer Peter Gammons watched batting practice and he has one of the most fun jobs in baseball. He’s a columnist/analyst, but he barely even has to move to get a story. Everyone comes over to talk to him, whether it’s a superstar or the last guy on the roster. I guess that’s what happens when you give people the benefit of the doubt and don’t dwell on the negative. And when you have sensational taste in music. In fact, he recorded his own album a few years back. What a guy.

Saturday ramblings:

  • I haven’t been able to keep up with March Madness at all. And I don’t even care.
  • Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos picked up the win today against the White Sox: 5IP, 2H, 1ER, 0BB, 5K. He gave up a homer to Andruw Jones and that was about all. The zero walks is big for him.
  • We caught up with Simon Castro today. He’s been mowing people down in camp so far, but he’s still the same old Simon. Very unassuming and down-to-earth. Wonderful guy. And he helped me with my Spanish, which needs a lot of work.
  • I forgot to mention this yesterday, but Friday was the basketball shooting contest for Padres’ major leaguers. One of the guys was wearing a Jackie Moon outfit that was pretty fantastic. Even better was the fact that manager Bud Black was standing around with an air horn, blasting it like a crazed fan every time somebody made a shot. People watching minor-league games 200 yards away were looking toward the source of the noise and scowling, as if they were grizzled old neighbors with a bunch of college students living next door.
  • TinCaps manager Jose Flores will do just fine this year. He’s kind of a quiet guy, but in the limited conversations we’ve had, he thinks the game well and he’s bilingual, which is huge.
  • We’ve talked with AZL Padres manager Ivan Cruz several times over the last two days… I hope he gets a post in Fort Wayne sooner than later, because he’s a trip to talk to. Think Ozzie Guillen without the swearing. He’s in his first year with San Diego and agrees that the Padres have ridiculous talent and depth in the low minors. There might be some talented players who get released later in camp, but it’s a good problem to have.
  • Former TinCaps RHP Eric Gonzalez might start the year in extended Spring Training. He has a herniated disc in his back and started playing catch the last few days. He spent part of his off-season playing in the baseball World Cup in Barcelona, Spain and Amsterdam. While he tries to get healthy, he’s rooting for FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League soccer tournament.
  • The Mariners hosted the Diamondbacks today in Peoria and it was the biggest crowd in the history of the Peoria Sports Complex: 13,444. We walked around the park and it was absolutely jammed. The game only lasted one hour, 58 minutes with a pitcher’s duel between Felix Hernandez and Dan Haren… Take notes, MLB. Shorten the TV breaks, make the pitchers work quickly… It’s a beautiful thing.
  • If things keep going the way they’re going, Allan Wertheimer‘s legs are going to be fire-engine red by the time we leave for Fort Wayne on Monday. He’s been putting SPF-48 sunscreen on about nine times a day with poor results.
  • Allan’s dinner choice tonight at a local BBQ establishment: something called the Texas Manhandler. Which would’ve doubled as a tremendous pro wrestling nickname back in the day.
  • We now have credentials for three different Spring Training complexes. You might say our credentials are unlimited.

That’s all for today… Ring ceremony tomorrow!

Take care!

DW

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