Spring Training: Day 4
Good Sunday afternoon from Peoria!
Today is our last full day in Arizona. It’s a good thing, because if Allan Wertheimer gets any more sunburned, Crayola will need to come up with a new crayon to match the unprecedented bright-red color his skin has turned. If you’re in the stock market, buy shares of every aloe company in the world. I expect a 10 percent commission on any profits you make. Just send those checks to Parkview Field addressed to me.
We fly back to Fort Wayne tomorrow morning. While I’ve loved spending the weekend here, it’s been a tiring few days and I think we all need to get back home for our last few weeks of preparation for the season.
Today we got to the complex at 7 a.m. to talk to some of the players from last year’s team. You’ll see what they had to say on the video board on Opening Weekend, April 8-10 at Parkview Field. You can order tickets here. Or you can miss out and be mocked by all your friends when they’re telling all kinds of inside jokes about the fun they had and you have no idea what they’re talking about. Your decision.
The main item on the agenda for us was the championship ring presentation. It was fairly low-key… Most of the Padres’ minor-league players and coaches gathered on the patio outside the main building. Team president Mike Nutter and former TinCaps manager Doug Dascenzo brought all the players from last year’s team to the front individually to get their rings. Everybody got a round of applause, but the most thunderous cheering came when Alexi Lara‘s name was called. Apparently the rest of the organization loves him just as much as his teammates in Fort Wayne did. He’s kind of goofy, but he overcame a rough start to become one of the best relievers the TinCaps had in the second half of last season. I know players are more focused on getting to the major leagues than anything, but every guy I talked to was incredibly proud of their ring. And everybody who wasn’t on last year’s team was visibly jealous. It reminded me of the greatest thing about sports.
- We weren’t there to see it, but Yefri Carvajal got a pinch-hit at-bat in the MLB game against the Rangers today and ripped a two-run double in the Padres’ 14-5 win. Later in the inning, Dean Anna pinch-hit for Carvajal and was retired. It was an eight-run eighth inning.
- This morning, the Padres’ major-leaguers had the finals of their basketball shooting competition. There were noisemakers, people were shooting silly string, blowing up balloons and throwing them at the shooters… It was intense. The only thing they didn’t try was bringing in Speedo Guy.
- Being big doesn’t always mean you’re good at baseball, but there were some BIG guys working out on the Padres’ Low-A/Short-Season field.
- One of the biggest guys was Nate Freiman. I saw him play in the summer of 2005 and he was lanky and his swing was a little herky-jerky. He’s really filled out physically and his swing is much more fluid. During batting practice he was hitting balls into the street behind the fence. If those balls were hit at Parkview Field, they probably would’ve gone over the left-field concourse and landed somewhere near Jefferson Boulevard. Or Mars.
- The other day I walked through our hotel lobby and saw a lady playing solitaire on the “business center” computer. I’m working from my own laptop, so I’m not mad, but wouldn’t that qualify as a moderate to major faux-pas? Everybody’s done the “walk through the lobby to see if anybody’s on the computer and act like you’re just passing through if somebody is, indeed, using the computer” move. You’re not going to go up and tell the lady you need the computer for legitimate purposes.
- Arizona should change its nickname from The Grand Canyon State to The Traffic Camera State. I talked to Kevin Hansen‘s dad, Dave, quite a bit this weekend. He told me there are automatic radar guns on the highway with cameras nearby. If you’re speeding, you get a ticket in the mail with a picture of your car and the tickets aren’t cheap. Plus, there are red-light cameras on every intersection. What exactly do the police do here?
- This morning we talked with a couple of MWL alums with the Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez and manager Don Wakamatsu… Hernandez only pitched two games in the league, but Wakamatsu told us about how he met his now-wife during his summer (1987) with the Cedar Rapids Reds.
- From the “you wouldn’t believe me if I told you…” department, the Mariners’ VP of Communications is Randy Adamack. Turns out, we’re from the same hometown. Small world.
- I caught the tail end of the Ohio State-Georgia Tech basketball game this afternoon… For all the whining about how slow baseball is, the last two minutes of that game seemed like they lasted longer than the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
- Best box score content from today’s MLB games: In an 11-11 tie against the Royals, the Rockies went 7-for-25 with runners in scoring position. Twenty-five ABs with runners in scoring position.
- Joe Mauer signed an eight-year extension with the Twins today. This is good for all parties, especially fans who want to believe their teams can keep their homegrown talent instead of shipping it to New York, Boston or Los Angeles. And to think, everybody thought the Twins were crazy to take Mauer over Mark Prior with the first overall pick in 2001.
That’s all for today… I won’t have anything tomorrow unless something hilarious happens involving Allan’s sunburn or Allan being hit by an airplane beverage cart.