Training Camp: Day 1
Radio Notes – I was on ESPN 99.1’s Sports Buffet show in Sioux Falls, SD, yesterday. Today, I am scheduled to be on KFAN, its affiliates and KFAN.com with Paul Allen at about 10:55. Check it out if you are able.
As I type this, I must admit that I am absolutely exhausted. It has been one of the longest days of my life. Literally. I said when I made this Ft. Myers trek, that I would post things from the trip here on this blog. Some of you have been to Ft. Myers for Twins training camp. Others haven’t. So hopefully everyone will enjoy this information.
I am not a morning person, at all. I would love to be able to sleep in every morning. However, as you know, I made arrangements that included a 5:20 a.m. Tuesday morning flight out of Minneapolis airport. Why? Because then I could get to Ft. Myers in time for Tuesday afternoon’s tilt against the Pittsburgh Pirates. I left the tip-top of Minnesota at about 2:00 on Monday afternoon, and I got to my sister’s place in the cities at about 9:30. Was I smart enough to go right to sleep? Of course not. I mean, I had to watch Skins on MTV, and then there was a fascinating Beyond the Music on VH1 on Nelly. Very entertaining. Very informational. But sleep may have been good considering the alarm was set for 2:45 a.m.
However, when the alarm went off, I only hit snooze two times. I was packed up and left there by 3:30, and I was at the airport by 4:00. Now, I was thinking that, even with it being spring break and all, not many would be there at that time. Wrong! The lines were pretty long, but I safely got through security, and got to my gate on time. Even better, the flight was on time, and with the time zone change, we arrived in Atlanta early. That turned out to be a good thing. We arrived at Gate A1, and I walked through the hectic concourse to Gate A32. I got there, scanned my ticket and was on the plane right away.
While waiting, I went on Twitter and saw that Delmon Young was going to be playing in the B game. I was wishing I would have been there a day earlier so I could have seen Kevin Slowey, Kyle Gibson, David Bromberg and Deolis Guerra pitch, with a defense that included Joe Benson, Rene Tosoni, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Rams and the return of Young.
Again, that flight was on time, and we got to Ft. Myers 15 minutes ahead of time.
When I was able to turn my phone on, it was vibrating like crazy with messages from people telling me that Justin Morneau had not only played in the B game, but he had hit a three-run bases clearing triple. I immediately chuckled because 1.) I wish I had been there, and 2.) The Twins were successful in their attempt to keep Morneau’s return quiet. Apparently Morneau has been cleared and in the big picture, it is a tremendous bit of news for the Twins. It will be interesting to see how he feels on Wednesday. Also, Delmon Young walked twice, which is news in its own right, and he apparently ran pain-free. Also very good news.
When I went to baggage, it wasn’t a couple of minutes before I had my bag, and two minutes later Curve for a Strike’s Topper Anton was there to pick me up. We immediately went to the stadium and parked. It was about an hour before the main game, but over on a back field, the B game was still going. We ran into Nick Nelson, and Parker Hageman and his DiamondCentric partner James Martin were watching that game. Nick got to the field just as Morneau was sliding into home after a Trevor Plouffe bloop single drove him in. We got there in time to watch Deolis Guerra pitch the bottom of the 9th. Standing behind the scouts with the radar guns, he was hitting 88-90 on his fastball. I keep saying that he just looks like a pitcher. He has great makeup, teammates love him, he has a good fastball, a very good curveball and a terrific changeup. His one problem remains consistency.
Soon after that game finished, we started walking toward the main stadium. Parker and I were walking along the sidewalk when suddenly we heard, “Please move, we’ve already run over a couple today.” We turned to see Gardy on a golf cart behind us. Someone yelled, “What’s your daily quota” to which Gardy responded, “Seven.”
Tom Kelly was taking some of those that played in the B game to another back field and running them through another series of drills.
As I was walking toward the field, I saw David Bromberg over to the side, signing some autographs. I went over, and he was chatting with each person individually. When he saw me, he came over and said, “Hey Seth. Did you just get down here?” I told him the story and then asked if he had thrown in the B-game. He said he threw two scoreless innings, the first he had to work out of a small jam. I know I mentioned previously that Bromberg had lost over 20 pounds in the offseason. He has been working harder, he says, than at any point in his life. The man is on a mission. He knows that he likely won’t break camp, but since he’s on the 40 man roster, if he keeps working, they won’t be afraid to call him up.
I went to Will Call and picked up my ticket for the game and went inside. I ran into Kyle Waldrop’s dad. It was fun to chat with him. I enjoyed the conversation. Here are some other thoughts from the game:
· Carl Pavano is really, really good. I mean, he is already in mid-season form. He works fast, throws strikes and hits spots better than anyone we’ve seen since Brad Radke. He worked as efficient a four-inning stint as I’ve seen, then went out to the bullpen and threw another 30 pitches before embarking on a pretty impressive running program on a back field.
· Drew Butera has an absolute cannon for an arm.
· So does Jason Repko.
· Pat Neshek was hitting about 84 mph with the fastball, according to the stadium radar gun. Phil Makcey tweeted that it was actually about 86. I was very impressed with his slider at about 81, and with his changeup that came in about 68 mph. He’s close. If he can make up 3-4 mph, he can be very good again. Because of the delivery, I think he can be just fine even at 86.
· Neshek was helped out of his inning by a Ben Revere catch that I still can’t believe. On a long drive hit to the left-centerfield gap, Revere basically out-ran the ball, and made a dive back toward the warning track to catch the ball. Putting it into words does not do justice to what a play it was.
· Danny Rams can absolutely crush the ball when he makes contact. He had two doubles in the game that were just ropes. The ‘when he makes contact’ portion of the sentence is his one issue, as we all know. But if it is something he can get even a little bit better at, Rames has incredible power potential. And defensively, he continues to improve and show a very strong arm.
· Matt Tolbert started at 1B and did OK there. However, that is reason #42 why having Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer back is so important!
· Tsuyoshi Nishioka. I only saw a couple of at bats and four or five plays on defense, but I have no concerns about him. I really like his swings (left handed and right handed), and defensively, he is very smooth at second base.
Following the game, we did go to Pott’s Sports Bar which is literally just around the block from Hammond Stadium. Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and I represented TwinsCentric with Topper Anton. Steve Lien from Get Up for Twins Baseball was also there. It was very fun to meet several Twins fans there including Danny Lehman’s aunt and uncle. Phil Mackey and Tom Pelissero from 1500espn were able to join us as well. It was a lot of fun, and we may be doing something similar later in the week.
The Twins travel up to Sarasota on Wednesday. We’re not going, but we are going to spend the morning at the ballpark, watching whoever is there. Big leaguers that aren’t traveling will be there, and I know a lot of minor leaguers will be there too as their camp is set to open by week’s end. I plan to be back again later today or tonight with another update.
It should be a fun rest of the week. And yes, I will be sure to wear lots of sunscreen! Please feel free to comment, ask questions or give advice.