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Hammond Notes - March 27

Posted by ashbury , 27 March 2015 · 1,441 views

Vacation time in Ft Myers is coming to a close. We had a very fun day at the Twins spring complex today.

We arrived at 10:30 unaware the minor league games had been moved up several hours, presumably in response to the forecast of rain. I started watching the Cedar Rapids game, and then a little bird told me, "you're missing Phil Hughes". I switched over to the Miracle game, in the fifth inning.

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Performing as the World's Most Expensive Bat Boy in this game was Kohl Stewart. (Lurking on the right has to be Aaron Slegers, who served later in the game as World's Tallest Bat Boy.)

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Hughes's breaking pitch was working beautifully here in the fifth inning, as an overmatched Rays youngster barely ducks out of the way of strike three:

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Twins manager Paul Molitor was on hand to watch his ace, as well as catcher Suzuki. (Not pictured, bench coach Joe Vavra was nearby as well.)

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After Hughes's stint, Ryan Eades came in for his turn. Is it just me, or does he resemble a young (and right-handed) Jim Kaat?

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Reluctantly, at last, we departed the minor league area to attend the major league ST game. Here is an old friend collecting his thoughts during the National Anthem, standing beside someone else. Guess which one staked the Pirates to an early lead with a long home run. Hint: it wasn't the Florimonster.

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Trevor May pitched today, and his fastball was humming along at about 94 MPH.

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Unfortunately, the wind was blowing straight out to right, and the Pirates batters had little trouble making solid contact all through May's 4 2/3 inning stint, leaving a somewhat ugly 8 hit and 4 run lump on his spring record. Gregory Polanco started the mayhem with a homer to right, as the second batter of the game, and catcher Tony Sanchez added a similar shot in the fourth inning. In the meantime, a triple followed by a double plated shortstop Jung-Ho Kang with a ribbie for CF Jaff Decker, and two consecutive doubles (Polanco, Marte) in the fifth accounted for the fourth and final Pirate run.

It wasn't all May's or the wind's fault though. I'm officially off the Start Aaron Hicks In The Majors bandwagon now. He took a zigzag route on Kang's wind-aided triple and I'm certain that an above average CFer would have tracked this one down to save a run. Hicks also bobbled a ball that went for a double anyway, to no additional loss to the team but significantly to my confidence in him as a fielder. Let him add some polish in AAA, I now say.

As mentioned, there were two no-doubt home runs hit to right by the Pirates. To my consternation, it appeared that Torii read neither one correctly, taking a long while to realize he needed to go way back. Because he did eventually race back, it can't be that he judged them out of the park. Due to the extra lift from the wind, it didn't end up mattering, but I don't really know what to make of it.

To May's credit, he worked quickly on the mound. No fiddling around, staying near the rubber between pitches.

The Twins offense didn't keep up, against junkball lefty Jeff Locke. A couple of runs came in the third, tying the game for the moment, when Dozier drove in Santana with a triple and Mauer drove in Dozier with a fielder's choice to... guess where... second.

Incidentally, the Pirates used a pronounced shift against Mauer, a fairly extreme one in fact in the last of his three PA. Mauer could have bunted toward third and if it was past the pitcher he could have sauntered to first base. No. He walked his first time up, hit his next one to second, and the last was an unassisted grounder to first. I guess this is playing the game the right way. Or stubbornness. Or something. But it's not making adjustments, as far as I can see.

In contrast to the defensive lapses I mentioned, Brian Dozier made a very fine snare of a liner off the bat of fellow second baseman Sean Rodriguez. Since I don't have a photo of that, here is one of Dozier grounding out to short in the first inning. Not very effective, but still pretty. (Did I mention, we had nice seats behind first base, six rows up?)

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Speaking of not effective, here is Hunter getting thrown out trying to steal second in the third inning. Since Arcia followed with a single to center, who knows whether the inning would have resulted in more scoring than it did.

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Jordan Schafer, DHing because Molitor presumably wants him to bat as often as possible this spring, laid down a very nice bunt past pitcher and first baseman that left them only to watch the ball and hope it would roll foul. Oh, that reminds me, the Pirates turned up their nose at using a DH and let their pitcher bat, at least to begin the game.

By the seventh inning, Molitor had removed all his starters except Schafer and Hicks. Clint Hurdle only inserted a couple of bench players, Florimon (3B) and Lambo (RF). At the end we had Nunez at short, Rosario in left (nice play on a fly in the sixth by Kang), Bernier at third, Rohlfing to catch, Brock Peterson at first, and very young prospects Levi Michael at second and Adam Brett Walker in right.

Brian Duensing pitched an effective 1 1/3 innings to end the fifth and cover the sixth. His fastball was around 89 MPH, about his par. JR Graham pitched effectively in the seventh and the start of the eighth too, with his 96 MPH heater.

In the Twins' seventh, Michael hit a sharp single to left following a (guess what) pop out by Nunez to the catcher to begin. Peterson struck out after a lengthy battle against Antonio Bastardo, as the light sprinkle threatened to turn to a more substantial shower. I was more than eager to see ABW get his chance, but he struck out too. I'm a big ABW backer right now. Here he is pinch running for Hunter in the fifth, rather than show you the strikeout.

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The eighth inning began and a couple of Pirates were retired by JR Graham. I think the umpires wanted to give him a chance to complete the inning, but after a walk, they took stock of the weather situation and, after consulting the managers, called the game. A wise decision, as by 15 minutes later the light shower had turned into a soaking rain.

And thus our two weeks in Fort Myers ended on a wet note.

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Even in the rain, it's a nice place to spend one's time.

  • big dog likes this

Mar 27 2015 10:26 PM

Heard game on radio.  Both Peterson and Walker battled at the plate before striking out.  That was at least encouraging. Looking for good at bats in camp.  Read thread on Walker earlier. [6 HRs this week in minor league games with 4 off the batters eye] - Again encouraging.  Love seeing young guys get a chance in ST.

    • ashbury and birdwatcher like this

I don't see the appearances by the non-roster guys as anything more than reward for hustling all during camp, or whatever. Walker and Michael in particular are still seasons away from a call-up, unless they go nuts in Chattanooga this year. Peterson's the exception, being disaster insurance at first base. I just viewed it as letting them enjoy a taste, more than a chance for judgement on how well they'd do in one try at the plate. They all could have flinched at a slider for called strike three like the unlucky guy I mentioned at the top of this report, and I'd still have been fine with it. :)

    • birdwatcher likes this