March 19, 2011

Let the good times roll

Justin Masterson and Scott Kazmir are just a little more than a year apart; Masterson turns 26 years of age March 22 and Kazmir just turned 27 in January. It’s hard to believe that Kazmir is only 27; after all, he’s started 178 games in his career. At this point in time, you’d think he’d be a veteran just getting ready for the season and yet, he’s a man still searching for the stuff that once made him among the best left-handers in the game. Masterson has only started 54 games in his career and is still trying to establish himself.

I suppose it was somewhat appropriate that the two squared off today in day two of Cheryl and my brief trip to spring training. Neither pitcher impressed today nor did either one seem close to establishing themselves as solid starters for the coming season. There was a scout in our section today and I got a glimpse of the radar gun he was holding. Kazmir was only hitting 87 to 89 miles an hour in the first inning. The scout then moved and I didn’t see any more results.

The Indians won 10-7.

Highlights of the game included Brandon Wood going two for two with a walk, and two runs scored. Wood didn’t start the game and came in for Maicer Izturis. I’m not sure why Izturis came out of the game, but one always has to wonder if he’s hurt whenever he’s not on the field. Wood is now hitting .255 and I’m hoping he came continue to make progress and contribute this year.

I have to tell you that both Cheryl and I really want to see Wood succeed. He’s easily one of the nicest players in the game. He always makes time for the fans and maintains such a great attitude. You’d never know that he’s had struggles on the field. I admire him for the way he handles himself and hope somehow, some way that he finds a way to be the player we all hoped he would be.

In other highlights – Howie Kendrick had a couple hits to go with two RBI’s. He’s hitting a solid .372 this spring.

Prior to the game, we spent some time interacting with fans and taking pictures of the players.

We also spent a little more time with Joe who had another story or two to share. He told us about an umpire (the name escapes me) who shared a joke with him.

As Joe recalled, the umpire had been married for 17 years and was trying to decide what to get his wife for her birthday. He asked his wife, “What would you like for your birthday?” She said, “I want a divorce.” The umpire said, “I wasn’t planning on spending that much money.”

You never know what you’re going to learn when you come to spring training. Every day is different and the memories are always unique. Today a little boy yelled out to Brandon Wood “hit another homerun like you did yesterday!” Wood smiled and said, “We’ll do.” Spring training is packed full of little stories like this and it just never get’s old.

It was a good day. We got to interact with Rich Thompson, Francisco Rodriguez, Hank Conger, Brandon Wood, Trevor Bell, Chris Pettit, Mark Trumbo, and Matt Palmer among others. We didn't see any of the regulars out on the practice fields, except for Kendrys Morales who is still trying to get ready.

Morales did stop to sign a few autographs, but not for long; much to the dismay of a lot of fans.

It was another fun day and we topped it off in grand style with dinner at Don & Charlie's in Scottsdale with fellow 514 Fanatics Bob and Stephen.

While we are dining Ned Colletti, the general manager of the Dodgers came in with some folks and sat at the table next to us.

Again, this is the kind of unexpected stuff that happens at spring training all the time.

Good times.

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