March 29, 2010

More musings from Tempe

Going to Tempe over the weekend was just what I needed. Now that opening day is less than a week away, I don’t think I’ll go crazy. Plus there is an exhibition game Thursday night against the Padres and then the Dodgers on Friday night. Yeah, I think I can make it.

As always, spring training was a blast. It’s hard to remember all the stories, but having this blog actually helps. Between Cheryl and me, we can usually remember everything that happened.

One of the funny moments of the trip happened on Saturday. Cheryl and I were standing right behind Torii Hunter (you had to know he was involved, right?) as he was playing catch. A high throw from Reggie Willits had us flinching a bit, but Hunter caught the ball easily. He turned around and said, “I got your back.” Cheryl responded with, “I got your back too!” Hunter turned around, smiled and said, “You literally have my back!”

That’s the kind of moment that makes spring training special. These little interactions with the players are simply good fun. I suppose it’s kind of funny that we flinched when the ball was sailing over Hunter’s head though. I mean, I think Hunter has won a gold glove or nine! It’s not like we were standing behind Manny Ramirez. I’m just saying.

It was also nice of Joe Saunders to spot us, recognize us and say hello. Funny story about Joe; after his game on Saturday we saw him the next day as he was making his way back from the practice fields. He stopped for pictures and autographs and as he was signing for fans, one fan asked him what he threw to Bengie Molina (who hit a bases clearing double off him)? Joe’s response? “A bad pitch.”

Again, these are the kind of priceless moments fans share with the players.

I haven’t said much about the game on Sunday because quite frankly, it was forgettable. Luckily it’s just a spring training game. That being said, I did have one observation to make from the actual games.

Erick Aybar is not going to be much of a base stealing threat. I’ve said this before, but he scares me when he tries to steal a base. So far this spring he’s stolen one base and been caught or picked off three times. I’ve seen two of the three in the two games I watched. This is not good.

Now, I’m not worried about him getting on base and running the bases after the ball is put in play (he scored from first on a single in one game); I’m just worried about what happens when he has it in his head that he’s going to steal a base.

How does a guy with that much speed get caught so often? I know, I know for a couple years now he’s kind of been everyone’s whipping boy and that all seemed to fade after his solid 2009 performance, but I still have some concerns. I suppose if this is the least of my worries, I don’t have much to be worried about.

Then again, every time an inning ends with Aybar making an out on the base paths; message boards all over the internet will go off. Count on it.

I'll close with a few photos from the weekend. In order... Torii Hunter hanging out at the batting cage, Hideki Matsui admiring one of his long balls, Brandon Wood looking as if he's ready for lift off (check out his feet), and Ervin Santana is ready to kick off the season (he looked good by the way).

And a few more; including my favorite picture of the weekend (courtesy of Cheryl's photo skills); Howie Kendrick getting it done. Also the Indians' Carlos Carrasco, Shin-Soo Choo (who just doubled in this photo) and Juan Rivera unloading a throw from left field.

BallHype: hype it up!


  1. James. Glad to see you are having a good time.
    I share the same observation about Aybar and his lack thereof base stealing skills. He is an above average base runner, 1st to 3rd or 1st to home, no problem. Not sure this is going to be one of our best base stealing years unless it is compilation of many players. Looking forward to seeing all of our 514 Fanatics. GO HALOS!

  2. Can't wait to see you as well Bo. It will be another great season, I'm sure.