Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Intra-Squad Game II

Today the Giants changed things up on me again. Apparently Bochy wants to keep me guessing. I arrived at the park at about 10:15 thinking the routine would be the same as yesterday, with the game at 11:00. When I arrived they were just setting up the field for batting practice. Four groups took one round of BP and the game didn't start until about 11:50.

I did not take any photos of the BP Session but I will make a few comments. Ryan Klesko was the first player to beat Bonds as the daily HR champ. Klesko knocked SEVEN bombs out of the park and none of them were cheapies. Klesko has been hitting the ball hard since the start of camp and only seems to be getting better. Bonds had 4 dongs and Durham 3. For some reason, Rich Aurilia did not take BP.

Just some overall summaries since this as the last workout before games start. While Pedro Feliz has been hitting frequent line drives, he has shown very little power. I have only seen him go deep 1 or 2 times.......not that I am favoring my boy, but Kevin Frandsen has shown more power so far. Mark Sweeney did have one HR today, but he is sporting a VERY slow bat and has been since workouts began. It has gotten so bad, it is obviously frustrating him. He was so upset in the middle of his BP round, that he took a full swing at the metal support of the batting cage as he exited and loudly yelled an expletive. Not at all usual behavior for the usually easy going Sweeney.

Other than that, most of the guys are hitting the ball well. I have been particularly impressed with Frandsen and Todd Linden. Fred Lewis has also impressed, but I have only seen him hit twice. Benjie Molina's bat had been slow the first week or so, but he seems to have developed his line drive power if not his HR power. It is only the first week of Spring Training......but for the most part, the bats look good.

Intra-Squad Lineups
Team #1..............................................Team #2
CF Fred Lewis....................................CF Jason Ellison
3B Thomas DeLaRosa.......................RF Clay Timpner
RF Nate Schierholtz...........................LF Eddy Martinez-Esteve
LF Dan Ortmeier................................3B Scott McClain
1B Chad Santos...................................1B Travis Ishikawa
C Todd Jennins..................................C Justin Knoedler
2B William Bergolla............................2B Eugenio Velez
SS Ivan Ochoa.....................................SS Luis Figueroa

Scott Atchison......................................Chris Begg
Brian Bowles........................................Eric Threets
Pat Misch.............................................Dan Giese

Team #1 wins 2-1 in 3 innings

Again, most of the game is detailed as captions to the photos. I did not get photos of Dan Ortmeier, Chad Santos or Chris Begg. Chris Begg started the game for the losing team and did not do too well. Chris gave up both runs on the first FOUR PITCHES of the game. That's right, a single to Lewis, an RBI double to DeLaRosa, an F7 that moved Lewis to 3B by Schierholtz, and an RBI SAC fly to RF by Ortmeier......all on first pitch swings. Begg then ended the inning with a strikeout. It was pretty catcher Justin Knoedler returned to the dugout after the inning, he said to one of the coaches "Four first pitches, what the hell was I doing out there?" meaning he hadn't been needed because he had not caught a single pitch before the 2 runs were scored.

Ortmeier and Santos only had one AB each. Ortmeier had the SAC fly mentioned above and Santos had the inning ending K. Both sides faced only 3 batters over the minimum. The game was so fast.....that although it started about 45 minutes later than finished only 10 minutes after the game did yesterday.

Tomorrow the "real" Spring Training games start. The Giants face the Cubs in Mesa at 1:05 Arizona time. Because of the difference in time between workouts and games........obviously tomorrow's post will be much later than they have been. Also if I go out after the may be even later (in some cases the next morning). Bare with me..........I will post summaries of most games.....but I want to enjoy myself too.

Scott Atchison started for the winning team. Atchison is another 31 year old Minor League free agent, who has been in the Mariners system since 1999. He had a great inning, getting a hard lineout to SS from Ellison, a swinging K from Timpner and a called K on EME. I believe he was throwing a lot more off-speed stuff than these guys are used to. From the arm and wrist position, looks like this photo is of him throwing a curve.

Apparently this is Brian Bowles, yet another 30 year old Minor League free agent. The white lettering signifies that he came over from the Minor League camp. I would expect a 30 year old to get a non-roster invite. He had a great inning whoever he is. He had a 1-2-3 inning with an easy flyout to center, a called K and a swinging K; to McClain, Ishikawa and Knoedler...not real easy outs.

Thomas DeLaRosa had another good day. He lined an RBI double on the first pitch he saw (add that to his 2 RBI HR yesterday). Here he reacts to a called third strike in his second AB. He was right...the pitch was high.......but the umpire had been calling the high strike all game.

Jason Ellison is not ready to give up his shot at the Major League team without a fight. He lined the first pitch he saw right at the SS. The drive was hit so hard that he darn near took the SS's glove off. In his second AB, Jason lined a shot down the RF line that should have been an RBI double, but Luis Figueroa inexplicably hesitated at 2B and could only get to 3B on the play. Jason had to settle for a standup double with no RBI.

Eddy Martinez-Esteve did not have a great day. He struck out looking in his first AB. In this AB, he ended the game on a two out groundball to SS, stranding the tying run (Jason Ellison) at 3B.

Todd Jennings flied out to LF in his only AB.

Justin Knoedler played today in place of Steve Holm. Knoedler struck out swinging in his only AB.

Fred Lewis played today and led off the game with a hard hit single over SS on the first pitch of the game. You can see he is going to be late on this swing, but that didn't keep him from stinging the ball to the opposite field. He scored the first run of the game from 1B on a double by DeLaRosa. Fred struck out looking in his second AB.

Thirdbaseman Scott McClain continues to be hitless after flying out on a can of corn to CF in his only AB.

Pat Misch gave up the only run for his team in his 1 inning. He induced a leadoff groundout to SS, followed by a single, a double and an RBI groundout. He finished off the inning with another groundout to SS. Not really a bad inning except that Jason Ellison's double was a SHOT down the RF line.

Nate Schierholtz continues to hit the ball hard with nothing to show for it. He was 0 for 2 today, but he drove the ball in both ABs. The first was a hard flyout to deep LF and the second was an even longer drive to RF that Timpner had to bounce off the wall to catch.

Eric Threets pitched the middle inning for the losing team. Sorry guys...I lied on my first post. I looked at the wrong middle inning pitcher. Threets still was commanding getting a easy F8, followed by two groundball outs, one to 2B and one to SS. He threw hard and accurately.....retiring the side on 8 pitches. Sorry to get you so excited DrB.

Clay Timpner at the plate. Clay struck out in his first at bat against Atchison and grounded out to 2B with an RBI off of Misch in his second.

In his only at bat on the day, Eugenio Velez leads off against Pat Misch and grounds out to SS.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Do They Actually Watch What They Write About?

I know I usually don't write two posts in one day, but I have to point something out. Both the AP story about todays intra-squad game written by Janie McCauley and the story on the written by Chris Haft say that with Lincecum pitching, Ortmeier made a great catch of a drive by Schierholtz. Only one problem with that......Schierholtz and Ortmeier were on the SAME TEAM. It was actually Timpner than made the good catch of Schierholtz' drive (Ortmeier was very visible standing in the on-deck circle). The diving catch Ortmeier made was the next half inning with Eddy Martinez-Esteve at bat.

That begs 2 questions:

1.) Do the reporters who actually get paid for doing this actually watch what they are paid to write about?

and 2.) How do two different writers make the same mistake without giving the other credit for the information contained in the article? Do they copy each other so they don't have to be present all the time? And do their employers know?

Just an observation I thought was quite curious when I was reading the articles on-line this evening.

Intra-Squad Game I

I have to issue a warning to those who I advised that the intra-squad games would start shortly after 9:00. I based that statement on last year......apparently, this is another change Bochy has made. The intra-squad game didn't start until 11:00 am this morning......and it only went 3 innings. They were done by noon. There was a lot of down time before the game, as the regulars worked out on the practice diamond. The players who played in the game took infield and basically sat around and waited until the 11:00 start time. I don't know if Bochy was trying to simulate the nerve wracking nature of waiting for game time or what exactly was going on....but there was probably only 30 minutes of activity in the 2 hours before the game started. I probably won't get there until 10:00 or so tomorrow.

The game was a little different in that instead of either having the pitchers hit OR having a DH.....both teams went with an eight man batting order. No DH AND the pitchers didn't hit. Even so, because of the short, 3 inning game, of the 16 position players, only 9 of them got as much a two plate appearances. So that was a little disappointing. I reviewed player performance in the photos, so I won't rehash that in this narrative.

Team 1....................Team 2
SS Ochoa.................2B Velez
3B DeLaRosa .........CF Timpner
RF Scheirholtz........LF Martinez-Esteve
CF Ortmeier...........3B McClain
1B Santos................1B Ishikawa
LF Copeland...........RF Horwitz
2B Bergolla.............SS Figueroa
C Jennings..............C Holm


Team 2 wins 3-2 in 3 innings

As disappointing as it was to be at the park for 3 hours to see only 1 hour of baseball. It was REAL baseball. Live pitching, no batting cage and even it was a great time. Watching the workouts is doubt about it. But there is nothing like watching REAL baseball. The competition and stimulation of a game........nothing like it.

Normally, I don't post this many photos in one day. It just takes too long with this blog software that Google has going. Most of these players have been practicing on the other field and have gotten no coverage at all, so I wanted to get a photo of everyone. I will probably do the same thing tomorrow. Once the games start on Thursday I will probably cut it back to 8-10 photos a day. Hard to believe Spring Training games start day after tomorrow. Where did the year go?

Oops....I wanted to have a photo of everyone who played today and I almost forgot Osiris Matos. He followed Lincecum and had a 1-2-3 inning striking out Ortmeier looking, got Santos to flyout to CF and Copeland to groundout to 1B. After getting Ortmeier to swing at a breaking pitch in the dirt, he threw a fastball right by him that froze Dan. Looks like Matos has some pretty good "stuff".
What we have all been waiting for. Tim Lincecum had a 1-2-3 inning, getting Ochoa to flyout to LF on one pitch, striking out DeLaRosa swinging, and getting a hard hit linedrive out to left CF from Schierholtz. It was hard for me to get a good line on him, because he threw very few pitches in his one inning of work.....I would say maybe 7 or 8. I can tell you he throws a lot harder than he has any right to with that little body. He also threw an off-speed pitch (not sure what it was) to get DeLaRosa to look silly while waving at it to strikeout swinging. It looks like he hides the ball well. I don't think the hitters can see it until the last second.

Manager Bruce Bochy sat on the field, in a folding chair, behind a BP screen, behind homeplate while Lincecum pitched. I am sure he was trying not to show too much emotion, but when the inning was over Bochy walked back to the dugout with a smirk on his face and slightly shaking his head. I took that to mean he was impressed.

Infielder William Bergolla swings and misses. He went 1 for 1 on the day with a hard hit single he pulled into LF. I never heard of this guy. He is apparently another Minor League free agent. The roster says he played in Louisville (AAA Reds) last year.

Outfielder Ben Copeland, takes a swing. Ben was 0 for 1 with a groundout to 1B.

Thomas DeLaRosa. He struckout against Lincecum and then hit a 2 run HR off Hedrick to go 1 for 2 on the day.

A closeup of Eddy Martinez-Esteve. Good looking kid. EME hit two pitches on the screws and had an 0 for 2 to show for it. He lined out to CF and hit a one bouncer that I thought was up the middle for a basehit, but he was robbed on a nice play by Montero.

I tried to get artistic here and only partially succeeded. I like the foreground/background shots. As I clicked the shutter Velez (at the plate) was visible between Timpner and EME....unfortunately Timpner moved just as I was snaping the shutter. That's OK.....I like the photo anyway.

Shortstop, Luis Figueroa, lays down a beautiful SAC bunt in his only plate appearance. He reached down and bunted a ball that was almost in the dirt. Only a very good play by catcher Todd Jennings kept this from being a basehit. The SAC put Ishikawa and Horwitz in scoring position to set up Steve Holm's 2 RBI single.

Justin Hedrick was the final pitcher of the day for the winning team. He allowed a leadoff basehit, followed by 2 flyball outs and then Thomas DeLaRosa dinged him for a 2 run HR that made it out of the park to straightaway LF by 1 or 2 feet. He finished up with a groundball out to 1B. Justin is a flyball/strikeout pitcher and sometimes those flyballs carry just a little too far.

Catcher Steve Holm swings and misses. The next pitch he would have a 2 RBI base knock to open the scoring in the game. This was his only AB of the game.

Brian Horwitz checks his swing. He was 0 for 1 with a walk and a run scored and a fly out to deep RF that Nate Schierholtz did a nice job to haul down.

34 year old Minor League free agent, Scott McClain is AB. He went 0 for 2 with a groundout to SS and a flyball to CF.

Travis Ishikawa is in the on deck circle. Travis had a leadoff double in the second to start a 3 run rally and struckout in his second AB. Travis looks like he put on a few pounds of muscle in the upper body since last year.

AA catcher, Todd Jennings, was 0 for 1 on a fly ball to CF. He made a nice play on a SAC bunt to keep it from being a basehit.

Oscar Montero was the losing pitcher, giving up 3 runs in his one inning of work on a double, 2 singles, a walk, a SAC bunt and a SAC Fly. The only out he got that wasn't a SAC was a hard hit one bouncer back to the mound that he made a nice play on to stop the bleeding.

Minor League free agent signee, Ivan Ochoa was 0 for 2 with two flyballs to LF.....the first on only one pitch from Tim Lincecum.

Dan Ortmeier swings awkwardly at an off-speed pitch from Osiris Matos. He struck out looking on the next pitch. He was o for 1 in the game but made a great diving catch in CF robbing EME of at least a double.

Matt Palmer was the starting pitcher for the losing team. He pitched one inning allowing one single, no runs and getting one K.

Billy Sadler closed the game for the losing team with a 1-2-3 inning. Two fly ball outs and one K. Reminded me of a typical appearance for him in the Arizona Fall League.

Firstbaseman Chad Santos checks his swing on a pitch. He was 0 for 1 with a long fly out to CF.

Nate Schierholtz swings and misses. He was 0 for 2 with a very hard hit line drive out to left CF and a groundout to 1B.

Clay Timpner had a good game going 1 for 1 with a single in his first AB followed by what ended up being the game winning RBI on a SAC Fly in his second plate appearance.

Eugenio Velez , went 1 for 2 with a single and a K. This guy slipped under my radar....I was reading about him today during the game. He is a 24 year old switch hitting infielder who hit .318 with 29 doubles, 20 triples, 14 HR and 90 RBI for the low A Augusta Greenjackets last year. And if that wasn't good enough, he stole 64 bases in 126 games. I gotta keep my eye on this kid.

Monday, February 26, 2007

2nd Annual Giants Idol - Part II

Another beautiful Arizona day. Low 70's and not a cloud in the sky. Today was day two of the Giants Idol "competition".

I gotta say, although there were some funny moments and some enthusiastic performances..........I am shocked that more of these guys can't at least come close to carrying a tune. I swear.......and I am really not stretching this....not a single performer today, until the very last one.....hit a single note correctly. It was almost like they were singing every note off tune on purpose. These guys could make up an entire American Idol bloopers show.

Again today....the costumes were great but the singing was less than inspiring. Today's group, with the exception of Fred Lewis and Steve Holm were definitely more enthusiastic and lively than yesterday. That made today's show a little more entertaining. Still nothing can beat last year with Barry Bonds in drag, Justin Hendrick singing to his blowup doll, or Travis Ishikawa stripping down to his speedos. Still it's a fun event and I would highly recommend it if you are ever in town while it's going on.

As far as the workout goes.......more of the same today, except that they did not take "live" batting practice today. One round of BP off of the coaches and they were done by noon. I assume that the pitchers were being saved for the start of intra-squad games and regular Spring Training games this week. I will admit that I didn't pay too much attention to the workout today because I was talking with 3 other baseball fans during the practice. Linden continues to hit well as does Bonds and Klesko. Lance Niekro and Fred Lewis took BP on the big field again today and both were making consistent solid contact.

After the workout, I made my first visit of the year to The Blue Moose. Almost everyone who has been to Spring Training has visited the Moose. It is a Spring Training institution and is about a 3 minute walk from the park and is a great place to get a before game hamburger or sandwich or an after game beer. The place is just jam packed with fans after games. I have been going there since they opened in 1992 (I think). If you come to Spring Training, you gotta come by at least once. I highly recommend the Border Burger, Blue Burger, Reuben, Chili Nachos or Club Sandwich. And no..........I didn't get paid for the plug.

That's it for today. I am really looking forward to tomorrow for three reasons. First, it will be the first of two intra-squad games (the second being Wednesday). I am getting a little bored with seeing the same players run through the same drills every day. Second, because Tim Lincecum is supposed to pitch in the game. I am very excited to see what all of the fuss is about in person. And third, I understand that they are going to play mostly the younger players. Because of the field setup and they way the Giants run their workouts, I have not been able to see most of the kids in action. I see the regulars all year long. I am really looking forward to seeing the youngster's show their stuff. I should have some photos of different players to post tomorrow afternoon.

The organizer of Giants Idol (both years), Mark Sweeney, thanks the fans, the players and the participants for joining in on this years event.

Group photo of all of the participants in the 2007 Giants Idol.

The first performer of the day was Fred Lewis who sang "I Believe". Omar said it was the "Eddie Murphy version". I have no idea what that means. At any rate, I can't really tell if Lewis has a voice, because he sang like the first two words and then hummed or sang another word or two or didn't sing at all for most of the song. The judges ripped him pretty bad for not knowing the words. Overall worst performance of the day.

Infielder Eugenio Velez sang another Latin Song "Black Sweet Little Woman" by Celia Cruz. It was in Spanish, but I don't think Velez sang a single word. He sort of screeched gibberish that was not quite in tune or in rhythm. Aurilia said "That's one ugly woman there". Randy Winn said "I know my Spanish isn't too good, but I didn't understand a single word". When Omar got the microphone back, he said "I DO understand Spanish...and I didn't understand a single word either".

You gotta give him points for having the nerve to dress like that in public......but the judges gave him ZERO slack.

Catcher Stephen Holm sings "Jail House Rock" as Elvis. Again........terrible voice...and he acted like he had never heard "Jail House Rock" before. His choreography consisted of walking to one side of the "stage" and squatting then walking to the other side and squatting and doing it over and over throughout the song. As Rich Aurilia said "What the hell was that?".
This is a young Trainer Intern from Chiba, Japan named Tida Yumatsu (spelling is a guess based on Omar's pronunciation). According to Omar he sang a song by his (Tida's) favorite singer, William Hong (the excruciatingly bad singer from the real Idol)......"She Bangs". His voice was atrocious, and he was only able to remember the words because he carried a crib sheet, but his dance moves and enthusiasm were so good that the Judges gave him a pretty good review.

I wish I would have gotten a crowd reaction here because it was great, especially when he thrust his hips forward every time he said "She Bangs". My camera batteries decided to die just after he started his act and by the time I replaced was over.

Eddy Martinez-Esteve (EME) sang "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix Alot. This baby had back and front, to quote Omar. I could not get a shot of his face, but Randy Winn made a remark something to the effect of "I don't know why you painted your face" so I assume he was wearing heavy makeup. EME can't carry a tune in a bucket and did not remember most of the words...but he shook his junk all over the "stage".

The "audience" reacts to EME's performance. Look at the heads in the hands. Several of his teammates were actually embarrassed for him.

24 year old Minor League free agent infielder, Ivan Ochoa sang a Latin song called "You Will Cry" by Oscar DeLeone. Ivan was the last performer of the "competition" and was FINALLY the first Giants participant who actually had a good singing voice. He continued singing even after Omar had the music stopped. He was actually even better singing by himself without the music. Here Omar had to actually drag him off the stage to get him to stop. As Rich Aurilia said......"It took until the final act to finally find someone who could sing."

Same judges as yesterday. Barry Zito wore the exact same outfit. Barry Bonds wore a different ensemble each day last year.

The "audience" gathers, waiting to see what the day's entertainment will bring.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Someone asked if Bonds and Sweeney have been seen together. Bonds has been stretching and running with the team this year. Today he and Sweeney spent more time talking than stretching. There were several times when the two of them started laughing, so I assume they are getting along just fine.

The guy in the foreground is a security guy assigned to Bonds by MLB. He looks like a former Secret Service agent or something. He stood right by the "stage" for the entire Giants Idol and never cracked a smile.

Anyone recognize the guy on the right? Damn it's good to see Robb Nen back in the orange and black. The man was a flat out warrior who we still haven't replaced in the pen. If he can teach a little of his "take no prisoners" attitude to the young guns of the Giants bullpen, it can't help but make the team better.