SATURDAY, MARCH 6th
We had the memorial service on Friday (thus my lack of posting), and I'm flying out Sunday, but Saturday was my last visit to Spring Training.
Again, the Twins were at City of Palms Park in Ft. Myers, and while the Red Sox had a split squad with half their team on the road, the Twins brought many of their A-game players along, which I was happy to see.
We were much closer to the field this time... forget about standing room, I could almost touch the players!
I went with my Mom so we could have some bonding time away from the family (I don't get to see her much now that I live in New York). Even though we were in the first row though, she had a little bit of a hard time seeing the mound and the plate because the 1st base ump and the 1st base coach were kind of in the way, but it was still a great view!
Also that guy kept leaning forward all the way and obstructing our view. Grr.
It was fun experiencing both a night game and a day game while I was here. The sun was definitely beating down on us and we weren't shaded at all. The cold beer was much more effective today than in the chilly evening game.
My initial reactions beyond the box score:
1. Orlando Hudson. It was great to be able to see him play in a game for the first time. He didn't do much offensively that I saw (I'm used to that out of second base, but I think that will change with him down the line...), but he made an amazing pickup on a short-hop line drive that had the whole stadium "oooh" in amazement.
2. Jacque Jones is the smiliest man alive. They let him DH today, I wish I could have seen him in the field. His bat wasn't much to speak of although he did hit a nice line drive late in the game. He and Kubel took a lot of time during the game to sign for kids over on the lawn along the sideline, and if I hadn't been boxed in to my seats I would have tried to go over there and meet him (he was always one of my favorites, and my Mom loved his bat flip after the homeruns, she kept hoping he'd hit one today so she could see it live).
3. Liriano looked great. He appeared a little rusty for awhile, falling behind some hitters and beaning one. He also looked a little uncomfortable on the mound at first, pacing around, banging his cleats against the rubber either because he couldn't get good purchase or the clay was caking in his spikes. But he settled in and his slider was on point, and had everyone swinging at the dirt and coming up empty. He got a lot of chases on the pitch and made people look silly. I think once he shakes off a little more rust that he'll get his confidence back up and be ace-like.
4. Brendan Harris played with some more confidence today, he had a solid single on a sharply hit ball and he looked a lot more comfortable in the field. I think it's great he's had two of the starts so far -- not quite sure, maybe it's Punto's wrist problems that have been holding him out, but hopefully Harris takes advantage of these opportunities he's getting.
5. Delmon hit some deep drives that looked nice until they died at the warning track. In fact that was kind of a recurrent theme between he and Morneau and Kubel (and later Parmelee and Singleton joined in the fun). It kind of shows me that concern about how we don't want to live and die by the long ball necessarily. If our guys are only swinging for the fences that won't work, we need a balanced attack. But he sure looks thin!
6. Nathan, oh poor Nathan. He kind of fell apart and had to struggle his way through even Mike Cameron. I hope it's nothing to speak of, he didn't look particularly off, he just didn't look comfortable and kept missing the strike zone. He was followed by Perkins who didn't really do anything to either solidify his trade value or a place on the roster. He just looked completely overmatched out there. Manship also got knocked around a little. His first inning was solid but then he wiggled into a jam he brought upon himself and couldn't fight his way out before surrendering a bomb to Tug Hulett (of all people).
7. Wilson Ramos had a beautiful RBI double that of course showed up in the recaps I'm sure, but the at-bat before when he struck out he still managed to work the count and battle pretty well, fouling off some good pitches. He definitely looks like he can handle major league hitting, and he was fine behind the plate too although I wish I'd have been able to see his arm throwing out a runner.
8. Ben Revere is a stud. Despite not doing anything with the bat today he still showed off his glove in center. And I know I said I agreed with all the reports on his weak arm based on what I saw Thursday, but today he made a nice throw on a rope to home plate that was very close to gunning down a runner tagging up. I can't wait to see him get some more seasoning, he's special.
Revere is on the left, Jair Fernandez the catcher is on the right.
Just an FYI for people visiting City of Palms Park or spring training in general. You'll notice the players get pulled from the game early and then maybe do some sprints along the warning track during the game to wind down (or on the back fields at Hammond if I recall correctly from last year). If you're trying to get their autograph, leave the game and go wait for them there because most people don't, that's the best time to catch them! I remember last year being the only person watching Liriano doing some running exercises after pitching at Hammond and after he was done he came over and he signed a ball and took a picture with me with no one else around.
At City of Palms Park, the players leave the clubhouse by exiting a door in the concourse under the stands on the visitor side and walking along the concourse about 30 feet to a gate leading out to their parking area. They stop and sign autographs in that 30 foot jaunt for anyone aware enough that they're there! So if you're at City of Palms, look for the starters down in that area of the concourse right after they get taken out because they don't hang around until the end of the game, they'll just go hope in their care.
This is Toby Gardenhire peeking out that door in the concourse...
At Hammond the best place is along that little waist-high gate near the indoor batting cages because when they're done with the game they go walk past the hometeam bullpen over to the first practice field and tend to jog along there. Then they'll walk along that little waist-high black fence to get back to the clubhouse and shower off. They'll stop for you along there though before they go into the clubhouse.
That's about it, I'm back off to New York and I already miss it down here! Agggh, baseball! Here's a few more random pictures though that I couldn't work in today:
Kubel jogging out towards the warning track to do some running.
Mijares walking by during pre-game warmups.
Danny Valencia being awesome (and aiding and abetting me in a fun surprise for a friend...)