Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Clearwater: Day 4: Spring Training Opener against the Blue Jays

A bit of housecleaning before we start today's roundup. I should have mentioned I wasn't going to write anything yesterday. The Phillies had a golf outing, so we went to Bradenton for the Pirates' Black and Gold Scrimmage. It's a nice little stadium and, even though I'm supposed to not like Pittsburgh fans because I'm a Philadelphia fan, I found the people genuinely nice. But I've come to expect that. I think Pittsburgh fans a genuinely under appreciated in the sports world. They tend to be knowledgeable, friendly and passionate about their team. That said, I'm running a bit of triage because The Boy has announced he's a Pirates fan. It's hard to compete, mascot-wise. Once he met Marty, he was hooked.
The Girl, however, is firmly entrenched in Phillies camp, thanks to the Phillie Fanatic.
Now, for thoughts on today's game.

First, I was going to go to the game sans familia.
That meant I was going to bring my glove and hang out behind the right field fence and try to catch as many homers as I could.
However, as I watched pitchers limber up, I noticed no batters had arrived. I walked over to one of the Phillies workers who assured me they'd take batting practice today.
A moment later, he paused. "Well, if the Blue Jays hit in Dunedin, the Phillies might hit inside the stadium."
So I trudged over to Brighthouse Networks Field just as the gates opened. I found my way out to the right-center field grass. Maikel Franco sent some prodigious blasts onto the Frenchy's pavilion area. One of them sailed completely out of the park and broke a window on Freddy Galvis' car. After Howard hit a shot to the wall, Bobby LaFramboise tossed the ball up to me. Aaron Altherr knocked one directly over my head. I raced for it and got my glove on it just as an older guy stepped on my glove. He said he wanted one for his grandson, so I gave it to him. We'd gotten enough balls on previous days, I just wanted to catch some homers and pretend I was shagging balls in the outfield. Then a nice couple from Toronto came over and we chatted for a bit.
J.P. Arancibia blasted one our way and I nabbed it on the bounce. It wasn't a clean play. I bobbled it and dropped it at my feet, but it was mine.
The guy from Toronto just wanted to look at it. I showed it to him, then gave him the ball from LaFramboise.
I'll do my part to crack the dickhead Philadelphia fan narrative any chance I get.
After that, Odubel Herrera chased down a fly ball and tossed it my way. I was going to keep it, but there was a kid in a Blue Jays shirt nearby who definitely wanted a ball. So I gave it to him.
I really don't want to sound too benevolent; if I hadn't gotten a handful of balls on Saturday and Sunday, I'd have kept these balls.
Then on the last at-bat, I had my chance. A ball came soaring our way. Would it make it up the wall? I reached over with my first basemen's mitt. I had it. Right in the webbing. Then I didn't.
As my glove bent back from the force of the shot, it hit the wall and the ball popped out.
It fell to the ground, where Eudebrey Ramos picked it up and laughed at me.
"You've got to give it to him," one of the other players said. He didn't.
He threw it into the infield.
I hope he gets cut on the last day of spring training.
As for the game, Severino Gonzalez started and did Severino Gonzalez things. He was all over the place in the first inning and gave up two runs. His second inning of work was much smoother.
I can't figure him out. In person, he looks like he should be a serviceable pitcher. But the results aren't there. I'm not sure they ever will be. I'd rather see David Buchannan be a spot starter than Gonzalez.
There was a lot to make you concerned today, but it was just one game.
Peter Bourjos didn't look fantastic at the plate. He was overmatched in his first at-bat and meekly grounded out in his second.
Arancibia is going to push for a roster spot. I have no doubt about that. He's looked good every time I've seem him.
Finally seeing Gabrial Lino in a game was a goal of mine. His defense looked effortless, but does he have enough of a stick to make it as a big leaguer? The Phils have a ton of options at catcher for the future and I wouldn't count him out yet.
Altherr had a really nice throw from right to nab a runner at the plate. The throw was low, accurate and hard. He continues to remind me of Jayson Werth.
I still like Cesar Hernandez. He's not a cornerstone player by any means. He hustles, though. I think he plays above his capabilities in some ways.
In batting practice, Herrera played centerfield like it was a game. He really seemed to work hard.
David Hernandez might be a worthwhile pickup, after all. I'm still a doubter, though.
Dalier Hinojosa didn't look bade either.
LaFramboise doesn't throw very hard, but the ball moved laterally and dives. If he can keep his pitches low and near the strike zone, I keep him.
That's all I've got for today.
The family is heading to Universal Studios tomorrow and then a two-day trek back home.
I'll recap some more thoughts.


Bob D said...

I'm planning on a spring training trip next year, for these practices do you just walk up or do you need to pay to watch? I would imagine you only need to pay to see games. Anyway its been fun to read a different perspective of ST.

Unknown said...

These posts have been great. Shame you're leaving so soon. Really make me want to go next year. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Beer-a-Thon said...

Personally I'm loving the addition of Pat to the blog. I've been missing a co-blogger for 3 years, and it's nice to have one again.

Pat said...

Hey, thanks for the comments. Haven't been able to check the site because of travel days.
Bob, for the practices, you just walk up. For the games, I really recommend Stubhub. We got tickets for $6, way under face value.
For the last game, when I was by myself, I just walked up and bought a ticket from the box office. That was $30. Kind of rough, but I was right by the dugout.
Also, if you go after the 7th inning stretch, you get in for free.
We most likely won't be going to spring training next year. But the year after, we want to go again.

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