Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring Training Trip Report

Last week I went to spring training to see the Rangers with my dad and granddad. This is my report of the trip and what we did.

Tuesday March 18th:

Tuesday was the day we were to fly out. Our plan was to get to Surprise in time to see the Rangers work out in the morning and then see their game against the A’s. But the weather was awful. It was pouring, with a lot of lightning. We ended up having a three and a half hour delay. The plane was an hour late getting to Dallas and then, after we boarded, we sat on the plane for 2 and a half hours before taking off. But we were lucky because right after we took off, they closed down the airport because of tornadoes for the rest of the day.

When we landed we went straight to Surprise and arrived almost exactly halfway through the game. We only saw Mendoza’s last two outs of his appearance. The final score was 11-6 Rangers. Bill White got the win, even though he allowed 2 runs and only got 1 out. Mendoza pitched very well, only allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 5 innings pitched. Ian Kinsler went 3-for-4 and Adam Melhuse had a great homer in his only at-bat. After the game I got autographs from Chris Shelton, Ryan Roberts, and Steve Busby. Before the trip I looked at the major league roster and, of the 62 players in camp, there were only 14 players that I didn’t have autographs of. My goal for the trip was to get those 14 autographs. After getting Shelton and Roberts, I needed 12 more players to get the whole team.

After the game, we then went to Outback and I ate way too much. After we had dinner we checked into the hotel (we stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Surprise for the second straight year) and granddad and I were both asleep by eight.

Wednesday March 19th:

Wednesday was the Rangers only off day of the spring. I woke up at 4:30 AM and everybody was up by 5:20 AM because of the time zone difference. But we didn’t leave the hotel until 10:00 AM so we got really tired of the hotel by then. That morning we decided we had to do something during the day since the only game we had tickets to was a night game, so we got on the computer and got tickets to the Angels @ A’s game.

When we left the hotel we checked the Rangers backfields just to make sure nothing was going on and when there we saw that there wasn’t anything, we made the one-hour journey to the A’s ballpark. We could only get seats on metal bleachers, so it was very hot and sometimes we would even have to get up and go in the shade. The Angels won the game 6-1. Rich Harden pitched for the A’s and pitched pretty well, only allowing 2 runs in six innings, but allowed 8 hits. Nobody on the A’s had more than one hit in the game, and only five players had a hit. Ervin Santana pitched for the Angels and did great, allowing 0 runs on 1 hit in 6 innings. The only A’s run was given up by Serrano, who also gave up 3 of the 5 hits. Gary Matthews had a great game going 4-for-4 with 1 RBI. Vlad only went 1-for-4, but his one hit was his 3rd homer of the spring. Torii Hunter really struggled, going 0-4 with a strikeout. He got under almost every ball he hit and had three pop-up outs.

After the game we drove another hour to get back to Surprise to see a minor league game on the back fields. We got there before it started and we watched Thomas Diamond throw to hitters for the first time in a year. He did this in a simulated game. He looked good. After he was done we got to talk to him for a little while and he seemed happy with his game. The minor league game started at 3:00 PM and Kason Gabbard started the game. He struggled, allowing 3 runs in just 4 innings against minor leaguers. We saw and talked to Jamey Newberg, Scott Lucas, TR Sullivan, Jon Daniels, and Thad Levine for the first time on the trip during the game. I also talked to Blake Beavan and Kea Kometani and I got autographs from Julio Borbon, Max Ramirez, Elvis Andrus, Warner Madrigal, and David Paisano. I also talked to Scott Servais and got his autograph. Borbon, Ramirez, Andrus, and Madrigal started in major league camp and were on the list of players I needed. So I only needed eight more autographs to have the whole major league roster.

After the minor league game we took a 1 hour, 15 minute drive to Scottsdale to see the Cubs @ Giants game. With this game I had seen every team in Phoenix play a home game. The Cubs won the game 4-2. Jon Lieber got the win and Correia got the loss. Correia really struggled in his start, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings. The rest of the Giants pitchers allowed no runs and only one hit total. Ray Durham went 2-2 with 2 walks , and Dave Roberts went 2-3. Jon Lieber of the Cubs went 5 innings, only allowing 1 run. Corey Patterson was the only Cub to get two hits as he went 2-for-4, but had no RBI’s. Cedeno had 2 RBI’s, both on a two-run homer. During the game, Fergie Jenkins, George Foster, and Lee Smith were signing autographs for $20 each (for charity). I got George Foster’s autograph.

After the game we drove back to the hotel and fell asleep almost as soon as we got there.

Thurday March 20th:

On Thurday the Rangers were in Tucson and we had decided to go to Tucson for the first time in our three years of going to Spring Training. It was a three-hour drive to get there, but we still got there before the gates opened. The Diamondbacks ballpark was very nice, but not as nice as the Rangers ballpark and I would give it an eight out of ten (10 being the best).

Before the game I got autographs from Ben Broussard, Jason Ellison, Elizardo Ramirez, and Edgardo Alfonzo. This got me down to 5 autographs that I needed (I already had Broussard’s autograph). I also got to talk with Evan Grant and Josh Lewin for the first time on the trip.

The Rangers won the game 8-7. Kevin Millwood made his only A-game start of the spring and looked very impressive, allowing no runs and only 3 hits in 5 innings. Wes Littleton pitched poorly, allowing four runs and five hits in just one inning of work. Feldman also struggled, allowing two runs in two innings and Josh Rupe allowed one run in one inning. Both Salty and Blalock hit homers and they both had two hits, but Salty had 4 RBI’s compared to Blalock’s 1 RBI.

After the game we drove back to Phoenix and saw a Coyotes hockey game. This was my granddad’s first-ever hockey game. The Coyotes were the 12 seed in the western conference and were playing the Kings who were the 15 seed in the western conference (worst seed). The Coyotes lost the game 6-5 in a shootout. The Coyotes didn’t score a goal in the whole shootout. The Coyotes have a new arena, which is very nice and is in a neat area, right next to a movie theater, a lot of restaurants, and the Cardinals football stadium.

After the game we went back to the hotel, and I watched college basketball while my dad read and my granddad slept.

Friday March 21st:

In the morning we went to the minor league workouts. There were no major league workouts at the time because they had a 6pm game that night, so the workouts were later that day. We tried to find out when they would be but no one who worked there knew when. We got answers everywhere from 12:30 to 4pm.

During the minor league workouts we hung out with the Newbergs and I played catch with Jamey’s 3-year-old son Max who had a great arm. He made me wish I had brought my glove from the car. While we were there I got an autograph from Engel Beltre, but he was never on the major league roster, so I still needed five more players.

We then went to Red Robin’s for lunch and saw Davidson beat Gonzaga on the TV’s. We went back to the hotel for about thirty minutes after we filled ourselves up.

At 1pm we went back to the minor league fields to see minor league games. On one field Kazuo Fukumori pitched and on another Vicente Padilla pitched. It was really cool. While we watched we talked to Eleanor Czajka, Judy Botts, the Newbergs, TR Sullivan and Scott Lucas. I also talked to Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan during the games. After Fukumori pitched, I got his autograph, leaving me with 4 more autographs to get. My Dad taught me some Japanese (he goes to Japan a lot) so I could ask Fukumori for an autograph in his language. I said ‘Sumi masen Fukumori-san. Autograph onegaishimasu?’ He said ‘very good’ before signing my ball.

At 4pm the major league workouts started and I saw Josh Hamilton’s BP and talked to Josh Hamilton and CJ Wilson. I got autographs from Eddie Gaurdado and Jason Davis, leaving me with 2 more players to get (Milton Bradley and Sidney Ponson). Both Eddie and Jason were really friendly.

The workouts ended and the Angels played at the Rangers stadium at 6pm. The Rangers lost 4-1. Sidney Ponson started really well and allowed no runs in 3 innings, but got injured in the fourth. After that, everyone in the bullpen struggled except for Elizardo Ramirez who only threw one pitch for an out. In Bradley’s first game back from his knee surgery he went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double play. Frank Catalanotto went 2-3 and Ben Broussard went 3-3 and they were the only two players with 2 hits or more. After the game was over we went and hung out at the hotel.

Saturday March 22nd:

On Saturday morning we went to the workouts and I got one autograph, Milton Bradley, leaving me with only Sidney Ponson to get. I never got Ponson because I never saw him.

I hung out Eleanor and Jamey Newberg and saw more Josh Hamilton BP. I also stopped 15 players and asked them a poll question (see below).

We then went to the Texas at Seattle game, but could only stay for three innings because we had to go to the airport. The Rangers won the game 8-5, but Eric Hurley really struggled allowing 5 runs in 4.1 innings. After he left the game, Seattle scored no runs and only got 3 hits. Both Ian Kinsler and Michael Young went 3-3 and Jason Botts went 2-5 with 3 RBI’s. Kevin Mench also played well, though, going 2-3, but with only 1 RBI. After three innings we drove about 45 minutes to the airport, where we found Joe Macko, whose flight had been delayed 5 hours. Our flight flew out on time and we made it home very smoothly.

I enjoyed the trip very much and am very glad I got to go.

I asked some of the players a poll question. I asked 15 players. Here are the results:
Do you think instant replay should be implemented in baseball?
Yes – 33%
No – 60%
Only in the playoffs – 7%

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think was the best player the Rangers got from the trades analyzed in this blog?
Jack Daugherty – 64%
Brad Arnsberg – 14%
Cecilio Gaunte – 14%
Scott May – 7%
All others – 0%

Come back next week for a play-by-play analysis of the Angels @ Rangers game.

2 comments:

Lynn Leaming said...

Grant,
Glad you had such a great trip. What special memories you will have of these times with your dad and granddad. Hope you have a great week!

grantlovesbaseball said...

Hi Ms. Lynn,

Thanks for leaving the comment. It's really great to be able to go on these trips. I will have great memories. Also, thanks for the chocolate Easter cross.

Grant