April 2012

Congrats to Jacque, Hello to Cody, Happy Birthday to Jay

Tonight is the second of a three-game series for the TinCaps and the Silver Hawks in South Bend. Monday’s game saw Fort Wayne jump out to a 1-0 lead after one inning, but the Silver Hawks had a big fourth, scoring four runs,and never looked back. Right now the TinCaps are hitting just .190, but it’s four games in–nothing to worry about. The pitching has been good, especially the bullpen, which has allowed just three earned runs in almost 20 innings of work.

Tonight is the debut of the last member of the five-man rotation: Cody Hebner. The righty was originally scheduled to start on opening day, but he tweaked his ankle and got bumped to the back of the rotation. He put up good numbers last year for Eugene (2-2, 3.35 ERA in 11 games) after being taken in the fourth round by the Padres. Here’s how he describes his arsenal:

“My fastball usually sits around 93 mph, but I got it up to 97 a couple of times this year,” he said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but they told me in the dugout, ‘you got it up to 97 that inning.’ And I said, ‘holy cow, that’s hard.’ At that level I could probably get away with using my fastball. But I like to approach like a major leaguer and work the batter and throw off-speed as well. I throw a fastball, a seam splitter, a curve ball, a change up and a slider.”

Listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast to hear some of last night’s action and comments from pitching coach Willie Blair on what he expects out of his hurlers in the early part of the season:

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Live from South Bend, It’s Monday Night!

Two days late and 701 miles northwest, but who’s counting right? Tonight it’ll be fun to see the TinCaps in action for the first time outside of Parkview Field. It’s off to South Bend, Indiana for a three-game set with the Silver Hawks at Coveleski Stadium. The Silver Hawks are 1-2, just like the TinCaps, in the early going.

The ballpark in South Bend is named after Stanley Coveleski, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He played for the Philadelphia Athletics, the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Senators and the New York Yankees. For those of you that are avid theater fans, you’ll also note that Mr. Coveleski played for the two teams featured in Damn Yankees, the Senators and the Yankees. (Story for another day: I played old Joe Boyd in my middle school production of the play. For everyone’s sake, I hope no film exists of my rendition of “Goodbye, Old Girl”. You could say I would sell my soul to the devil to ensure it. Zing!)

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Three in the Books, Away We Go

The first series of the season has come and gone, and with the dust settled, the TinCaps are 1-2 to begin the year.  Here are a few numbers from the first three games:

29: The number of runs scored between Fort Wayne and Lake County in the first series of the year.

8: The differential of runs (16) vs. earned runs (8) surrendered by the TinCaps pitching staff. Kane County has the largest gap, having surrendered 21 runs, with 11 of them being earned.

15: The cumulative number of errors committed by both teams throughout the three-game series.

15, 673: The number of tickets sold for the opening series at Parkview Field. Fan support was great, even with chilly weather for a few of the games.

2: The number of people who found this blog last week using the search term “worlds biggest shark tooth.” Thanks for stopping in!

0: Number of home runs hit in the first three games between Fort Wayne and Lake County.

It’s off to South Bend on Monday for a three game set with the Silver Hawks. They’ve gotten off to an identical 1-2 start to the year. We’ll see the debut of Bryan, OH native Matt Wisler at 7:05.

TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Take a listen back to some of the calls from Saturday’s game, and hear postgame reaction from TinCaps Manager José Valentin:

Click here for the video recap of Saturday night’s game with highlights and analysis from me and Kent Hormann.

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TinCaps Win, Baseball’s Code, Joe Ross

With the Opening Night jitters behind them, the TinCaps picked up a 9-3 win over Lake County in the second game of the season on Friday night. It was production from the top of the lineup that sparked the offense for Fort Wayne, with leadoff man Jace Peterson going 3-5 and scoring three times. Hear highlights from the game with Mike Maahs and Tom Felice, and reaction from Adys Portillo and Jace Peterson in today’s TinCaps report:

VIDEO RECAP

After every home game the TinCaps play this season, I’ll partner with Kent Hormann to put together a video recap for your viewing pleasure. Click here to see the recap of the 9-3 TinCaps victory from Friday night.

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Opening Day Crowd Sets a Record, TinCaps Fall

Opening Day at Parkview Field was a record-setting day. Not because of anything that happened on the field, but because of what happened at the field. The announced attendance of 8,577 fans was the highest figure in the four-year history of Parkview Field. That’s a great testament to the fans of the TinCaps that came out to support the team on Thursday night on a brisk evening. On top of that, the TinCaps drew the most fans out of any non-Triple-A team that had an opening day game yesterday. Baseball America the full numbers here.

THE TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

Here’s a look back at some highlights from last night’s 4-3 TinCaps loss to the Lake County Captains. I’ve also included a snippet from my conversation with Fort Wayne Manager Jose Valentin.

A REQUEST

If you’ve ever got any questions about the TinCaps that you’d like answered, please send them my way. I would love to include a mailbag section in the blog and the podcast. You can email me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or tweet me @MikeCouzens.

MUSICAL GUEST

There’s a story to be told as to why I’m linking to Nancy Sinatra singing “Sugar Town”, a song that I wasn’t aware existed until yesterday. Will I tell that story some day soon? You bet. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, Nancy…take it away!

Opening Day, Podcast Premiere & Your Tweets

THE DAY HAS ARRIVED

Thursday marks Opening Day at Parkview Field as the TinCaps will host the Lake County Captains, the Midwest League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Fort Wayne will send Dominican southpaw Frank Garces to the hill to throw the team’s first pitch of the year. This will be the first true game action on U.S. soil for Garces, who has only pitched in the Dominican Summer League in 2009 and 2011. He was originally signed by the Rangers in 2009, and then the Padres snatched up Garces as a minor league free agent in May of last year.

Frank Garces

His strikeout numbers in DSL play were pretty impressive. In 71 2/3 innings last year, he struck out 115 batters and walked only 20. That’s a ratio of better than 4:1.  Put it this way: In 71 2/3 innings, there are 215 outs to be recorded. So that means he struck out nearly 54% of the batters he faced. That said, it’s a big jump from the DSL to the Midwest League, so we’ve got to keep all of those numbers in perspective. Garces will throw a fastball, changeup, and as I’ve heard from a few people, an impressive curveball. I’m excited to see it in person.

THE TINCAPS REPORT PODCAST

As promised, here is the revival of the TinCaps Report Podcast. Since 2012 is All About You, I figured there was no better way to start off than with a podcast from the seats. Wednesday was Meet The Team day, which featured an open practice and an autograph signing afterward. So as the team took infield and batting practice, I went out to talk to some of the great fans that were out on Opening Day Eve:

If you’ve got any suggestions or guests you’d like to hear on the podcast, please let me know!

Here are a few of my (definitely not professional) photographs from the autograph session:

Just a segment of the fans lined up to get an autograph from TinCaps pitching coach Willie Blair.

From right to left are Donavan Tate (1), Manager Jose Valentin, Cody Hebner (2) and Adys Portillo.

TWEETS OF THE DAY

It’s going to be a great crowd for Opening Day, and if you’re not in the ballpark for the game I hope you can tune into one of our broadcasts. The game is on ESPN Radio 1380 in Fort Wayne, streamed online at ESPNFortWayne.com and on Channel 81 on Xfinity.

MUSICAL GUEST

Despite their odd rendition of the National Anthem at the NCAA basketball championship game on Monday, I still have love for The Fray. With a track off of their latest album, Scars and Stories,  from Denver, Colorado, please welcome…The Fray!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

N64 Kid, Video Shoot, Dangerous Batting Practice

Well, just one day remains until the TinCaps officially take the field for the start of the 2012 season. Today is an exciting day around the ballpark, and tomorrow, we’ll all be as happy as this kid was on Christmas back in the mid-90’s:

Except we won’t be wearing footy pajamas. Well, maybe not…

Here’s what’s been going on around the park:

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Media Day, Meet the Team, Morning Radio

MEDIA DAY

Monday was a big day at Parkview Field because it was Media Day. If you’ve never been to a media day, essentially what happens is that all of the local media comes to the TinCaps locker room to do interviews and find out about that year’s team. There’s lots of excitement as the players are picking out their lockers and uniform numbers, and as the reporters, photographers and videographers are working hard to get the right shots and get the interviews that they need.

My part in all of that was making sure that every reporter who needed to interview a player was able to find the player in the clubhouse. Imagine walking into a room of 25 unfamiliar faces and trying to pick out the one you’re looking for. It’s can be challenging, especially when people are moving all over the place from the lounge, to their locker, to the workout area and everywhere in between.

Media Day Links:

WANE-TV has interviews with Manager Jose Valentin, Hitting Coach Jacque Jones, Donavan Tate, Austin Hedges, Cody Hebner, Joe Ross and Adys Portillo.

The Journal Gazette tells us that Cody Hebner is the Opening Day starter and reveals the pitching rotation to begin the year.

The News-Sentinel caught up with Donavan Tate.

The Journal Gazette has a photo gallery of the players arriving at Parkview Field.

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Roster Release, Open House, Sunday Blues

THE FIRST 25

On Saturday morning, the TinCaps Opening Day roster was released, and from just about everyone’s initial reactions, this has the chance to be quite a talented ball club.

Here’s what TinCaps president Mike Nutter told LaMond Pope in The Journal Gazette:

“There’s one of these websites that does Padres prospects that put something out the other day that says this is the most prospect-laden team roster at any level that he could remember,” Nutter said. “And he’s been covering it for 15 or 20 years.”

Click here to see the PDF version of the roster. (Yes, there aren’t any numbers yet. When the players get into town, they’ll get their numbers.) This link will take you to the full story about the roster.

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