My dad, my granddad, and I went on a trip to Spring Training last week. We got there on Sunday, March 14th and left on Wednesday, March 17th. It was a great trip and I had a blast. This week I’ll give a recap of my trip and a report on how the players looked.
Sunday, March 14th:
We had a very early flight on Sunday morning (7:25), so I had to wake up at 4:45 AM so we could leave the house at 5:15. I was tired. Our plane was on time, though, so we landed in Phoenix at about 8:00 AM Arizona time. On Sunday morning we went straight to the workouts, which were fun as always, and got to talk to Jamey Newberg, Anthony Andro, TR Sullivan, Ryan Tatusko, and CJ Wilson. CJ was especially nice throughout the whole trip, and took time to talk to me a lot after both the Sunday and Monday workouts. At the workouts, we got to see Tanner Scheppers throw a bullpen session. I noticed that Tanner has a good change in his velocity.
The game was in Surprise, so we had time to go eat lunch at Red Robin before heading over to the game. Red Robin had good food as always, and I was happy to be able to watch some of the ACC Championship game as we ate.
We then went over to the Rangers/Diamondbacks game at Surprise Stadium. Colby Lewis was pitching and got out of the first inning quickly, with a 1-2-3 inning that included two strikeouts, and he looked really good. But after that he started to leave his fastball up, and in the next three innings he gave up six runs, not even finishing the fourth inning. He lost his control and just got pounded. In the third inning alone, he left four fastballs right at the letters, and even the outs were hard hit balls. He ended up going 3.1 innings, giving up six runs, all earned, six hits (including one homer), and striking out four. One thing I noticed about him is how quickly he works. It’s just one pitch after another, no Padilla-like stalking around the mound five times before each pitch. Ben Snyder came in to finish the 4th inning and didn’t fare much better. He gave up a home run to his first batter, and then gave up two more hits and another run in the 5th. He got hit hard by almost every batter and gave up two runs in 1.2 innings. Chris Ray gave up a run and three hits in his only inning, but he actually looked really good. All of his pitches had really good movement, and he seemed to have pretty good command of his pitches. Kasey Kiker, Zach Phillips, and Frankie Francisco pitched scoreless 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, respectively. Hamilton looked very good at the plate, as on the day he went 2-for-3 with one home run and two RBI’s. He homered in the first on a ball he got way under, and ended up hitting it over the right-field bullpen. In the third inning he hit a double off the wall in the gap. Vlad hit it solidly in each at-bat, but went just 1-for-3, and Michael Young was 1-for-3 also. Craig Gentry went 0-for-4 and Justin Smoak went 1-for-3. The Rangers lost the game to the Diamondbacks 9-3 with Colby Lewis picking up the loss.
When we got back to the hotel I checked the computer to see what the NCAA brackets were, and I couldn’t have been happier. Texas A&M (my favorite college) was a 5 seed, and were positioned great. They play an easy team in both the first and second rounds before playing the Sweet 16 in Houston, which would be a home game. I was extremely excited about their chances. For dinner we went to NYPD Pizza. They have great pizza there, and we gobbled it up. We got back to the hotel, and both my granddad and I were asleep by 7:30 PM, leaving my dad unable to make any noise until he went to sleep (that’s never fun, I’m just glad it wasn’t me).
Monday, March 15th:
The Rangers had a night game on Monday, so only the minor leaguers had their workouts in the morning, since the major league workouts didn’t start until 2:30 PM. We went to the minor league workouts and saw a few pitchers pitching to live hitters who weren’t allowed to swing. I got to see Martin Perez pitch, and he looked very good, with excellent command of his pitches, as almost every pitch was at the knees. He had a really good curveball. I got to talk to Blake Beavan, Tim Murphy, Rich Rice, and Court Berry-Tripp. They are all incredibly nice people and I would like to especially thank Rich Rice for helping us out while we were in Arizona.
We went to the Reds game in Goodyear and saw them play the A’s. My dad grew up in Cincinnati, so we are also Reds fans (nowhere close to the Rangers, though). We got to see Ben Sheets pitch for the A’s, and that was a lot of fun because he allowed 10 runs and got 0 outs. He got pulled before he even got an out, raising his Spring ERA to 31.15. The A’s defense was horrible, too. On the very first play, Jake Fox, the left fielder, fell down while tracking down a fly ball, then Sheets muffed a grounder on the next play. Later in the inning, the shortstop made an error, and then let the ball lay on the ground as the runner on second took third. The Reds won the game 13-5.
We went back to Surprise for the major league workouts after the Reds game and got to talk to Scott Lucas and also to Court Berry-Tripp and CJ again. CJ talked to me for a long time again. He is such a nice guy.
We went to the Rangers/Giants night game in Surprise at 6:00, and Rich Harden was pitching. He was bad at the beginning and at the end, but was pretty good in between. He allowed two in the first and two in the fourth, but just one other. He needed 80 pitched to get through 3.2 innings, and he allowed 5 runs, all earned, on 5 hits and 3 walks. He struck out three. Like Colby, Harden works quickly, and there’s not much time between pitches. Doug Mathis came in to finish the fourth, and then he also pitched the 5th and two outs in the 6th. His stats aren’t too bad, as he gave up no earned runs in his two innings of work, but his control was off. He walked four batters but only gave up one hit. The box score shows that he gave up two hits and one earned run, but they credited a San Francisco batter a hit on an obvious error by Elvis Andrus. On the play, Elvis muffed a line drive, and on the throw to the plate after catching the outfielder’s throw, he bounced it in about five feet to the left of the plate, letting the run score. Edwar Ramirez came in next, and gave up one run in 1.1 innings, and then Darren O’Day gave up one run in 2 innings. Nelson Cruz hit a moon shot to straightaway center on the first pitch he saw in the 2nd inning. In the 3rd, both Vlad and Matt Brown had RBI’s. Josh got hit by a pitch on the hand, and that was scary, but he’s fine. The Rangers offense really didn’t do anything again until the 8th inning when Max Ramirez and Justin Smoak both drove in runs. The Rangers lost to the Giants 8-5.
Also, I got the chance to talk with Jon Daniels, Thad Levine, and Scott Lucas during the game, which was fun.
Tuesday, March 16th:
Since the Rangers were playing the Cubs in Mesa, which is over an hour away, the major leaguers weren’t doing workouts when we got to the Rangers’ backfields. But the minor leaguers were, so we went to see them. I saw Wilmer Font pitch. He had a good fastball, but his curveball was a little wild, and he couldn’t really control it.
The Rangers were playing a B-game over at the Royals’ complex, so we went over to see that. Esteban German was very impressive in the game, as he made a couple of very good defensive plays at short and also doubled. Luis Mendoza was the opposite of German, as he did not do well at all. Brandon Boggs hit a home run in the game, too.
After that, Ted Price was nice enough to let me be on his podcast to talk to me about what I had seen in camp. His podcasts are always great, and his site is http://rangerspodcast.blogspot.com. It’s called Rangers Podcast in Arlington. Ted does the podcasts with Jamey, and Adam Morris, and sometimes with a guest. It was so much fun to do, and I would like to thank Ted for having me on. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me. The video should still be available on his site. It’s the March 16th entry.
We then headed out to Mesa to see the Rangers play the Cubs. It was a sold out game, and the traffic was terrible. The Cubs’ ballpark is built in a residential neighborhood, so the streets weren’t meant for thirteen thousand people. The traffic was so bad that Ron Washington missed the first inning. Neftali Feliz started the game, and looked really good in his first two innings, but then really struggled in the third. He was scheduled to go four innings, but he ended up going just three. He allowed 6 hits, 3 runs (all earned), and struck out 4 in his three innings of work. Omar Beltre came on to pitch the fourth, and he used some kind of wacky half-sidearm, half-overhand delivery. He allowed no runs and struck out two in his inning, but a lot of his pitches were low. CJ Wilson came in after Beltre, and he was dominant. He got five strikeouts in his first three innings, and there was not a single hard-hit ball. He was making the Cubs batters look silly. Jeff Baker hit a home run off him in the third, though. In the fourth inning, the first two Cubs batters got hits, to make it second and third with no outs. And CJ didn’t allow either of the runners to score, as he got three straight weak groundouts. He allowed one run in four innings, and he struck out four. The Rangers only got three hits in the game, a David Murphy single, a Taylor Teagarden single, and a Justin Smoak home run (which was the Rangers’ only run in the game). The Rangers lost 4-1. This made the Rangers 0-3 while I was in Arizona.
For dinner, we went to Outback, and I ordered a burger, but I ended up having just four bites, due to an overload of cheese fries.
On Wednesday, we left Surprise to fly back to Dallas, pick up my mother, little sister, and grandmother and then fly to Orlando for 6 nights at Disney World. We stayed in one of the cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness resort. We managed to catch a Grapefruit League game while we were there, seeing the Braves play the Tigers on Friday night. This was my first-ever Grapefruit League game. I was impressed with the Braves stadium (it’s on Disney property). We had a great trip, with basically back-to-back vacations.
Come back next week for my analysis of recent Rangers news and events.