Tuesday, February 21, 2006

February 21st - First Full Squad Workout

Today was the first full team workout of the spring. Pretty much everyone was present except for Barry Bonds. I must say.......full squad workouts are a lot more entertaining than workouts with just the pitchers and catchers. There must have been 50-60 fans there today, probably the most I have ever seen at a workout (excluding Sunday's Open House). It is particularly surprising for a weekday. Usually only us old retired guys are there during the week, 15 to 20 of us max.

Practice got started a little late. I am told that they had a 40-45 minute team meeting before taking the field. After team stretching, the pitchers disappeared (probably to bullpens and work on the half field) and the position players broke into a 7 position infield/outfield practice. The corner outfield positions fielded flies from a pitching machine while the centerfield position fielded ground balls. The 3 outfield positions then rotated regularly.

While that was going on, four coaches hit groundballs to 3B, SS, 2B and 1B. They did not work on throwing the ball around the infield, just on fielding the grounders. Jose Vizcaino rotated from SS to 3B to 1B. Angel Chavez rotated from SS to 3B. Pedro Feliz stayed at 3B, Omar Vizquel at SS and Mark Sweeney and Lance Niekro at 1B. Interestingly, Ray Durham was the only one fielding balls at 2B. By the way....the exact same workout was duplicated on the full practice field with the other half of the camp.

After this set of drills the pitchers rejoined the position players. The players then practiced called pickoff moves and the fielding the bunt. The coach would flash the signs, the pitcher would throw a ball to the plate (or to whatever base the coach had signaled for), the coach would then roll a ball out onto the infield and the players would field the "bunt" according to the play the coach had called when he flashed the signs.

After that, the pitchers again disappeared and four groups of four players took batting practice from batting practice pitchers (coaches). The first group consisted of Jason Ellison, Steve Finley, Randy Winn and Moises Alou. The second group was Pedro Feliz, Ray Durham, Omar Vizquel and Jose Vizcaino. The third group was Mike Matheny, Todd Greene, Mark Sweeney and Lance Niekro. The final group was Abraham Nunez, Angel Chavez, Dan Ortmeier and Todd Linden. As with the fielding drills, the remainder of the camp took batting practice on the other practice field.

Most of the players looked about like what you would expect in the first round of live batting practice of the year. The exceptions on the positive side were; Ellison who was spraying line drives all over the field from the time he stepped into the box. Niekro was just SMASHING everything. Rarely did he not hit a line drive and many of his hits went to the warning track, the wall or over the wall. Durham started out slow, but in the last half of his round, he was hitting the ball hard. Greene continues to hit the ball hard and Sweeney also did not look like he was coming back from a layoff. Pedro Feliz also had a good round of BP.

On the negative side; Moises Alou (a notorious slow starter) looked pretty bad. He was hitting an awful lot of weak groundballs. Winn also was not great, especially since he has been in camp all week. Linden was also not very good. Toward the end of his session, you could see that he was trying to the ball out and it was resulting in a number of weak flyballs. However, on his last two swings, Linden put both balls over the fence from the left side of the plate.

A number of players hit two HRs; Linden, Finley, Durham, Feliz, Sweeney and the kid, Daniel Ortmeier. Only one player hit more two HRs. Lance Niekro hit SIX homeruns, including two that went the opposite way and two that hit the top of the grass berm in back of the LF bullpen. In addition to that, Niekro hit an opposite field linedrive, that just missed going out by inches. That linedrive was just smoked and never went much higher than the fence during it's entire flight. Niekro was bouncing balls off the fence and off the warning track during his entire session. He looked to be in better than mid-season form.

The long drive of the day award went to Ray Durham (with honorable mention to Niekro for one of his drives to LF). Towards the end of his round, Durham hit a ball off the top of the new patio, which is on top of the hill, behind the RF bullpens. The fence at that location is about 380-390 feet and the patio roof is a good 80-100 feet behind the fence. In other words it was a very long drive for the first round of spring BP.

All in all a great day at the park. It was good to see all of the position players again. There is nothing that lifts your spirits like the sound of a wooden bat making contact with a baseball on a beautiful (almost) spring day. I almost feel guilty for having so much fun.....almost.


GRMG said...

WOW!!! Finally!!! Baseball!!! Great photos Hank, and great notes on the day. Wish I was there!! Thank you for warming up my day.

Anonymous said...

"Interestingly, Ray Durham was the only one fielding balls at 2B."

Might not mean anything. Since no throwing was involved, I wouldn't imagine fielding a grounder from 2B is much different than from SS. Was Durham the only 2B during the pick off and bunt drills, too?

Thanks for the effort!

DrBGiantsfan said...

Wow, those are some great pictures. They get better every day! Man, that's exciting news about Lance Niekro. I know it's only batting practice, but if it's so easy, why wasn't anyone else doing it? I think Niekro could have a breakout year this year. He's always been able to adjust quickly in the minors and has always hit for a good average. The power is a more recent development, but looks like the real thing. Go Lance!!

Anonymous said...

of course Niekro was hitting - batting practice pitches are all straight. his problem is with breaking stuff.

Anonymous said...

hey giantfan9, thank you very much for this awesome look at what i will miss very very much. i am a lifetime giants fan born in south city in 1960. this past october i was shocked to learn i was being relocated to nashville tn. i will try and keep track of the aaa stuff here (the nashville sounds being in the pcl for some reason) but these posts are a wonderful retreat for me. thanks again. bobpetersen05@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

Hank, Your the man! Keep up the good work, the pictures are great, and hopefully we'll see you guys in a few short weeks! Dave (Black88GT)

Anonymous said...

Hi Hank, Bob Stewart here, Diane gave me your blog so here i am. Great stuff can't wait to read it each day now. We will be there the 12th thru the16th. Can't wait. BOB

Giantfan9 said...

Dave...good to hear from you. See you on the 15th.

Bob....do you know where my seats are? Come by and see me when you get in town.