Hello Michigan, Long Toss Success, From Fort Wayne to the Cup

Greetings from Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps. Today, here in Comstock Park, Michigan, the TinCaps open a three-game series following their off-day on Tuesday.

The Whitecaps are 12-13 and sit two games ahead of the TinCaps in the Eastern Division standings. Like Fort Wayne, West Michigan has won five of its last ten ballgames. Beware that they do feature one of the league’s top hitters in Eugenio Suarez, who’s swinging the stick to the tune of a .333 average. Tonight’s starter for the Whitecaps, Wilsen Palacios, is 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA. His last two starts have resulted in his two losses.

The TinCaps have a few new faces in town as the last few days have brought some roster moves. Here’s a quick summary of what’s changed:

April 29: Outfielder Donavan Tate went on the DL with a strained hamstring.

April 30: Outfielder Mike Gallic was put on the Fort Wayne roster out of extended spring training. Infielder Clark Murphy was put on the Fort Wayne roster from extended spring training, and infielder Zach Kometani was sent to extended spring training.

May 1: The TinCaps received outfielder Kyung-Min Na from extended spring training, and outfielder Alberth Martinez was sent to extended spring training.

Gallic was with the TinCaps at the tail end of 2011, but Murphy was signed two weeks ago after being released by the Rangers, and Na was picked up in a trade this offseason with the Cubs, which involved former TinCaps pitcher Zach Cates.

Tonight it’s a 6:35 first pitch in Michigan. Here are a few shots from around the park:

Fifth Third Ballpark

No word on where the Enchanted Tiki Room is…

I’ll talk to you at 6:15 on 1380 ESPN in Fort Wayne and ESPNFortWayne.com…around the world!

IF IT WORKS…

As we come across more and more ways to analyze performance in sports, it seems as though more and more methods of training seem to pop up across the board. There are a few prospects now throughout the minors who have taken training into their own hands, and it seems to be working:

“Minor leaguers Dylan Bundy of the Delmarva Shorebirds (an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles), Trevor Bauer of the Mobile Bay Bears (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Matt Barnes of the Greenville Drive (Boston Red Sox) have had a similar approach to training. Several times a week, and even sometimes on days when they’re pitching, they take a few minutes to play catch with someone who is standing unusually far away from them.”

They’re doing what’s known as long toss, and not everyone believes it to be the best method for improving arm strength. The counter argument to that, however, is results:

“The poster children for long toss are the aforementioned trio of Bauer, Bundy and Barnes. So far, they’ve combined for 100 strikeouts and an earned-run average of 0.66 in their first 68 1/3 innings. Bundy, who was clocked at 100 miles per hour as a high-school senior in Oklahoma and who was selected by the Orioles with the fourth pick last June, hadn’t surrendered a hit through 13 innings heading into Monday night’s start. His high-school coach, Larry Turner, said that in addition to long-tossing more than 300 feet, Bundy used to build arm strength by digging and refilling post-holes and flipping over tractor tires.”

I call that just a regular Tuesday, really.

When Bauer was drafted, some teams were skeptical of his self-imposed training program, but he’s turned in good results for the Diamondbacks so far.

FROM FORT WAYNE TO THE CUP FINAL

One of my favorite journalists out there is Sports Illustrated media critic Richard Deitsch. He’s fair in his critiques and gives praise where it is due. Where it is very due is with Mike Emrick, who Deitsch calls “the announcer most associated with hockey in America.”

Emrick is from the Hoosier State, and his love of hockey started with a team that’s doing pretty darn well right now:

“The son of a high school principal and guidance counselor, Emrick grew up in a La Fontaine, Ind. (pronounced La Fountain and not like Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine). He initially fell hard for baseball, but his life changed on Dec. 10, 1960 when his parents took him and his older brother Dan (a retired junior high school teacher and coach) to an IHL game between the hometown Fort Wayne Komets and the visiting Muskegon Zephyrs.

‘”It was love at first sight,” said Emrick, who was 14 at the time. “I had seen hockey in black and white on our grainy television. We were a long way from Indianapolis and by the time the signal got to us, it was pretty snowy. You could see the Pistons in Detroit or basketball at any high school gym, but there were only two places in Indiana that had hockey: Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.”’

There are few people in any profession quite as well respected as Emrick. He’s worked for NBC, CBS, Fox and Versus in a career spanning five-decades. Truly impressive.

MUSICAL GUEST

I listened to this on the bus today, and thought you might enjoy it, too. John Mayer…take it away!

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

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