Spring Has Sprung

Three Spring Training games are already in the books for my boys as they make their way toward the start of the 2014 season.  The buzz about the performance of returning players as well as the new guys has already begun.  Isn’t this exciting?

The first game of the Spring took place on Wednesday.  Yusmeiro Petit was the starting pitcher, and unfortunately he gave up four runs on five hits in only one inning.  Not to be outdone, Sergio Romo came in for relief and gave up six runs on seven hits.  Ouch!  But no worries – this is just Spring Training, right?  They are supposed to be working things out.  Brandon Belt had a nice offensive showing, getting hits in both his at bats.  Kid standouts were Ehire Adrianza and Adam Duvall, who each hit homeruns in the ninth.  Adrianza has been a standout both offensively and defensively in camp, and has a good chance at getting a position on the team as a bench player.  Also of note in this game are the two homeruns that Michael Morse was robbed of.  Check this out.  Amazing.  Even a Giants fan has to appreciate those catches by Josh Reddick.  But the positive is that Morse is showing us his power, and right from the start.

On Friday, the team split and one squad played the A’s and the other played the Brewers.  In the A’s game, both Gary Brown and Brandon Belt went 2 for 3, and newly-slimmed-down Hector Sanchez went 2 for 4.  Newbie Edwin Escobar pitched two hitless innings.  In the Brewers game, veterans Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong each pitched two scoreless innings, giving up only one hit each (sweet!).

The only homerun hit by a Giants player came from Mark Minicozzi.  Does that name sound familiar?  That was my favorite name of the new guys that I mentioned in my blog on January 19th.  I think I have some ESP going because Andrew Baggarly wrote an article about him and says he’s one of the top prospects this Spring!  He’s got a great backstory:  He’s 31, and he was drafted by the Giants in the 17th round of the 2005 draft.  He had a fantastic season in 2007 with the San Jose Giants, with a .424 average in the playoffs and an MVP award.  Soon after, though, he was plagued by injuries, and was eventually released by the Giants.  He turned to independent ball (I have to admit I had never heard of this, and may discuss it in a future blog), where he played for three years for various teams.  Then, serendipity struck.  After seeing a post on Facebook from one of his old Giants managers, he looked up the Richmond Flying Squirrels schedule (Giants AA team with the amazing name), and they happened to be playing 45 minutes away from where he was staying.  On a whim, he drove to the game and sat as close to the field as he could.  He got the attention of his old manager, and field coordinator Shane Turner.  Turner invited him to hit with the team the next day, and a week later he was given a contract.  Such a cool story, and the kid already hit one homerun!   Baggs said he probably won’t make the team, but will most likely play in Fresno this year, but from there who knows!  I’m rooting for you, Kid with the awesome name!

In other news, Madison has been named the Opening Day pitcher.  So glad the kid has received this honor.  He quietly achieved a 13-9 record last season with a 2.77 ERA, the pillar of the rotation.  You deserve it, Kid!  And I’ll be there in Arizona to watch you!!  After Madison, the rotation will be Matt, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, and Vogey.

On the weird side, Tim Lincecum received $100K from his former landlady for a frivolous claim she made against him (see article here).  In a previous blog, I had mentioned how she was suing him over extreme damages he had caused to an apartment he was renting from her.  He has been vindicated, so I can erase that piece of scandal from my mind now.  Good for you, Timmy.  It’s awful how people will try to take advantage of celebrities just to make a buck.  In Arizona, Timmy is already taking advantage of having Tim Hudson on the team, getting pointers from him.  Hopefully we’ll see some results on the mound soon.

Tyler Colvin was given a minor league contract and invited to the Big League Camp.  When I first heard this, I though his name sounded familiar.  Then I realized why – I had blogged about him.  It was in the IFO (Identified Flying Objects) blog about players getting hit with flying bat pieces.  Colvin got impaled with a shard of a broken bat which pierced his chest.  He was hospitalized with a punctured lung because of it, ending his 2010 season.  He will be competing with Juan Perez for a spot in the outfield.  Love Juan, but also love this kid’s story.  Good luck to both of you!

The MLB has drafted new rules governing home plate collisions in response to Buster Posey getting taken out by Scott Cousins during the 2011 season.  Buster was even consulted by MLB about the new rules.  The new rules state that 1) the runner can’t deviate off the base path to hit the catcher and 2) the catcher can’t block the plate without the ball.  The rule will be tested this season and decided upon after that.  Not all collisions will be avoided this way, but at least the ones where a player is blatantly trying to harm another will.

Did you hear that Barry Bonds will be at Spring Training instructing the boys in their batting?  He’ll be there starting March 10th and stay for a week (he’ll be gone by the time we get there).  I have mixed feelings about this.  I really don’t like the guy after reading Game of Shadows for his attitude and his lying, but I guess everyone is entitled to redeem themselves.  I would feel more uncomfortable if he had more of a counselor type role, but he’ll just be helping them with batting.  Don’t think he’s really a good role model for anything but that.  And I hope he is good to the media and redeems himself there as well.  I bet the guys are thrilled.  He really can have a huge impact on those bats as he had an amazing approach at the plate.  I hope it works out.  Who do you think he’ll have the most impact on?  Andrew Baggarly predicts it will be Brandon Crawford as he is also a lefty and grew up a Giants fan watching Bonds.  That would be wonderful as we know the potential is there.  Can’t wait to hear what the players say about him.

Learned something new about baseball today, and of course it came from listening to KNBR.  Larry Baer was on with Marty Lurie, and a caller asked why they don’t have a camera for televised games that is in direct center field so that you have a view directly over the plate.  I’ve often wondered this because it’s much easier that way to tell if a pitch is a ball or a strike.  The camera that’s therein AT&T Park is slightly off to the right, so pitches to the right of the plate appear to be strikes.  The answer is that they can’t have a camera directly in center field because it would be in the batter’s line of sight and he wouldn’t be able to track the ball coming off of the pitcher’s hand.  Parks need to be designed so that the batter has a solid backdrop behind the pitcher so he can track the ball.  So now you know.

Also found out from Larry Baer why they tore out the concessions under the bleachers where my friend Anne used to work at AT&T Park.  They’re putting in a massive edible garden behind center field.   It is scheduled to be ready by Opening Day this season.  The garden will provide fresh produce to the park’s catering program, and will cut down on the venue’s fuel costs for trucking in the produce from outside vendors – green all around!  You can even sit amongst the plants to watch the game.  Pretty cool “beans”.  Good for you, Giants!

Countdown to Baseball Trip is at 23 days!  I am getting so excited!  We’re going to try to buy our Opening Day tickets on Monday, and already have the tickets for the two Spring Training games.  Everything else is set – just waiting for the day to arrive.  Will keep my ears open for any Giants news.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

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