Friday, March 27, 2009

Notes From Bradenton

Before I write about my trip to Pirates' Spring Training, Don of Mondesi's House deserves props for writing this last week:

In a way, Fields has a bit of Ben Roethlisberger in him, in that he always seems to save his best for last. If ever I see Fields lining up a three-pointer with, say, three minutes or less, I'm going to say that's probably a high-percentage shot.

Don proved prophetic as Levance did it again Thursday night in leading the Panthers over Xavier. Go Pitt!

Anyway,I have talked about attending Spring Training for many years, but this week, I finally made it to Bradenton, Florida to see the Pittsburgh Pirates in action. Here are notes and pictures from my trip:

I arrived at the Bradenton/Sarasota airport from Washington via Atlanta (and my favorite airport) and went directly to McKechnie Field in time to see the Pirates warm-up.

This is Pirates super-prospect Andrew McCutchen (the guy with a bag on his shoulder) along with Pirate great Bill Virdon on the left.

Ian Snell in the bullpen.

Andy LaRoche playing catch.

As for the game, Aaron Harang pitched six scoreless and hitless innings for the Reds as the Bucs couldn't do anything offensively other than Freddy Sanchez walking twice. Meanwhile, Ian Snell gave up six runs in 4 & 1/3 innings and left the game with a blister on his toe. To make matters worse, he had some wonderful things to say about Bradenton: (h/t Raise the Jolly Roger)

"Nothing against Bradenton but there are all old people here," Snell said. "They don’t really cheer or do anything. The WBC was crazy. You had people from Venezuela and Puerto Rico dancing in the stands, setting off whistles constantly shaking maracas. It was loud and it was crazy. You can’t at all compare the atmosphere. It was nuts there."

I like Ian Snell. I like his competitiveness and I really, really want him to succeed. However, let's review what I wrote above. Ian - you got lit up by giving up 5 runs in the 2nd inning. The Pirates offense didn't get their first hit until the 7th inning and finished with no runs and two hits. So you expect dancing in the stands from Pirates fans during an exhibition game where the Reds didn't even bring your regulars? Actually, the crowd did get excited for the T-shirt toss:

Here's a brief summary of the game from Chuck Finder of the P-G. Meanwhile, I have a few more pictures:

Freddy Sanchez.

Nate McLouth (do any of his teammates call him M.C. Louth?).

Matt Capps, who along with Sean Burnett and Jason Davis, pitched great in relief.

The picture may not do it justice, but this is a flock of seagulls at the field. The seagulls were present during both games I attended, but only for about ten minutes each game. I have no idea how an outfielder could concentrate with the seagulls flying around and then landing and walking around the grass. I ran. I ran so far away! That's what I would do if I was an outfielder in this situation. Seriously, I hate seagulls!

Monday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays was completely different. Zach Duke pitched great and the Pirates offense woke-up led by two doubles by Jack Wilson and an Eric Hinske triple.

My thoughts:

- Andrew McCutchen was amazing in walking three times (please note the sarcasm).
- I realize that everyone is clubbing Nyjer Morgan about his Spring Training performance; however, he played great leading off in this game. Morgan was 1-3 with a walk and stole two bases.
- Jack Wilson seems to be exclusively pulling the ball. He hit four balls, two doubles against Tampa Bay and two fly-outs in the Cincinnati game, to deep left.
- If Duke pitches like he did Monday during the rest of the year, well, that would be good!

I only took one picture from the Tampa game. 5 points if you tell me what's wrong in this picture.

Finally, I visited Pirate City where there are over 100 minor league players on four fields.

- It is extremely difficult to track the players since they have numbers, but no names on their jerseys. Actually, there was one man (player) with the name on the back of his jersey: Phil Dumatrit. He has a serious fastball.

- Among those on the minor league roster, there are 4 Gonzalezs (Angel, Benjamin, Elevys, and Gemmy Gonzalez), 3 Penas (Eduardo, Ronald and Silvio Pena), 3 Rodriguezs (Chris, Dionis and Gerlis Rodriguez), 3 Garcias (Diomedes, Edward and Juan Garcia plus Infield Coordinator, Carlos Garcia) and 2 Walkers (Andrew & Edwin; Neil was with the major league team when this list was printed, although I saw him play in a AAA game. He had a triple). There is also a Jose L. de los Santos and a Jose R. de los Santos.

- Did you know the Pirates have a player named Brian Leach (I hated him on the Rangers) and another named Henry Henry?

- In addition, if RHP Sean Giblin or RHP Sean Smith ever want to write a guest post (since this is Sean's Ramblings), they are more than welcome to do so.

- #99 Calvin Anderson is a very tall man.

- Kyle Stark, Director of Player Development, walked from field to field watching batting practice. Apparently, his predecessor, Brian Graham, would just ride a golf cart around the facility.

- Jeremy Powell is the only player on the minor league spring training roster over the age of 30 at 32. I'd guess that his prospects to make the majors isn't very good.

Finally, I did not see Dinesh and Rinku.


Messiah said...

TB was using a DH, but the Pirates weren't?

Sean said...

5 points for Messiah! Yes, it didn't seem right that one team was using the DH but the other team was not.

Judge Rufus Peckham said...

Sean, good for you! McKechnie Field is to baseball fans what the Vatican is to Catholics. It's the greatest ballpark in the history of the world. As wonderful as PNC Park is, and as beautiful as Forbes Field was, nothing can compare with the intimacy of watching a game in Bradenton's throwback venue on a sunny day in March.

lacochran said...

Hope you had a great trip!

Sean said...

Judge - Great point. I loved watching the games at McKechnie Field. There was no giant scoreboard or between inning promotions (except for the occasional T-shirt toss), just baseball. The one thing I would change is to install folding seats. It was difficult getting into and out of the aisle with the plasic immovable seats.

lacochran - I did have a great time, thank you!

Archi said...

He then told a story about living next to a senior-citizen couple and some of the things they do in the hot tub. We won’t get into details.

That is awesome.