March 2010

The Home Stretch

Yes, it’s been quiet around here at the LumberBlog.   No posts on Tim Smith (’08) suiting up for the Kansas City Royals, no mention of Derek Holland (’08) and Neftali Feliz (’08) vying for bullpen spots with the Texas Rangers, no post on guys like Jose Marte (’06-’07) in big-league camp with Arizona, Brandon Watson (’01) reappearing with the LA Dodgers and Tug Hulett (’05) landing in Boston.

Nope, none of that.  Why?  Because this is my desk right now:

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A lot of folks probably don’t realize this, but in addition to my broadcast and media duties, I also handle a lot of other things for the LumberKings.  Most of what you’ve seen online or in print over the last five years has probably crossed my desk, or at least my email inbox.

What you see there is a pile of 2010 print.  Program, poster, pocket schedules, you name it.  All of it will soon be finished, after weeks of calls, emails, proofs, late nights at the office, etc.

After that, I then get to start on preparing for the broadcasts.  So the next time you pick up a pocket schedule at your local convenience store, think of all the time and effort put in to making it.  We do it for you.

Also, special thanks to J. Robert Lueders for continuing to find the former Kings in big-league camps that I miss.  He might have to start his own blog called “Splinters from the LumberBlog”.  What do you think?

-DL 

Three Kings to Minor League Camp

The big-league Spring experience is over for Mitch Moreland (’08), Justin Smoak (’08) and Chad Tracy (’07).  All three have been reassigned to Minor League camp by the Texas Rangers.

-DL

More Photos from Scott Lucas

They just keep coming, and they’re all awesome.  Scott Lucas of the Newberg Report posted more photos today of Texas Rangers camp in Surprise, AZ.  Former LumberKings amidst this set include Blake Beavan (’08), Kennil Gomez (’08), Derek Holland (’08), Michael Kirkman (’06-’08), Marcus Lemon (’07), Michael Main (’08), David Paisano (’07-’08), Zach Phillips (’06-’07), Evan Reed (’07-’08) and Ryan Tatusko (’08).

View them here:  http://rangers.scottlucas.com/site/TX100317/TX100317day.htm

Also, yesterday’s elusive Kasey Kiker (’07) footage is now available here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbim2PVU34c

-DL

Construction Update – March 19

Our various offseason construction projects are nearing completion as the 2010 season closes in.  Below are pictures of the new Coors Light Picnic Pavilion concession stand as well as the new third base beer cooler.

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beercooler2.jpgOnly 19 days left until the season starts.  We are beyond busy.

-DL

Photos and Video from Rangers Camp

Dedicated LumberBlog followers will recall that during my six-day trip to Arizona, I was sadly cheated out of a chance to see many former LumberKings due to Mother Nature.  My plan to see the Texas Rangers take on the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear was cut off by the rare desert rain.

Thankfully, I’m not the only blogger in the world who has ventured to the Cactus League this Spring.  Scott Lucas of Newberg Report fame is down there right now covering the back fields.  He has shot some pictures and video on many of your favorite former Kings.

Here’s some photos from a “B” game, including Craig Gentry (’07), Mitch Moreland (’08) and Chad Tracy (’07):  http://rangers.scottlucas.com/site/TX100316/TX100316b.htm

Scott has also posted some very sharp looking video on his YouTube site:

He’s got a link to some video on Kasey Kiker (’07) as well, but I wasn’t able to get that to work.  I will post it if that changes.

You can check out more from Scott at rangers.scottlucas.com.

-DL

Cactus League Update – March 16

It’s been almost a week since I last updated you on former LumberKings in Spring Training.  Rather than update you on every specific game that took place in Texas Rangers’ and Seattle Mariners’ camps, I thought I might try a “stream-of-consciousness” approach.  Here goes.

Rangers Camp

Former Kings’ hitters can be categorized in three ways.  Hot, Cold and Barely Seen.


tracyplayoffs.jpgMarcus Lemon
(4-for-9, double, RBI, .444 average), Mitch Moreland (7-for-18, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, .389 average) and Chad Tracy (4-for-11, double, triple, 2 RBI, .364 average) have all looked impressive so far in big-league camp with the Rangers.  Mainstay Ian Kinsler has played in just four games, but is 4-for-10 with a double and 2 RBI in that action.

Justin Smoak (2-for-13, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, .231 average), Craig Gentry (4-for-19, 3 runs scored, 1 stolen base, 7 strikeouts, .211 average) and Brandon Boggs (1-for-10) all look like they’re playing their way into Oklahoma City.  Smoak might get a longer leash than the other two.

Emerson Frostad (0-for-7, 3 strikeouts) and Kevin Richardson (2-for-10, 2 runs scored, RBI) have combined to catch nine games.  Both have been overshadowed by a solid start from non-LumberKing Max Ramirez, who is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with a pair of doubles and 3 RBI in nine games.  Right now, Ramirez has the edge to be the OKC catcher and COULD open with Texas if non-King Taylor Teagarden (2-for-13, 7 strikeouts) continues to struggle.

It’s been fairly surprising (to me, anyways) that John Whittleman has had just one at-bat with the big club.  He did walk once in his one game, though, showing that classic Whit eye.

David Paisano (1-for-1), Davis Stoneburner (1-for-3, RBI) and Engel Beltre (1-for-3) have had brief tastes of camp.

On the mound, Kasey Kiker has looked like his ’07 self.  He’s allowed just two hits over 3.0 innings against Major League-caliber hitters.  Could he be the Feliz of 2010?

Derek Holland has pitched twice, starting once.  He’s yielded four runs, but only one earned over his 3.1 innings thus far.  Derek continues to battle for a back-end rotation spot after a hot start and rough finish in ’09.

Most other alumni arms in Rangers’ camp have struggled.  Neftali Feliz (6 ER in 4.0 IP) might be feeling the pressure of the “rotation or reliever?” debate.  First-time campers Zach Phillips (4 ER in 2.0 IP), Michael Kirkman (1 ER in 1.1 IP) and Evan Reed (1 ER in 0.1 IP) have been touched up in very limited action.

Mariners Camp

Denny Almonte didn’t get into the split-squad game against Milwaukee that I saw, but apparently he did suit up at least once.  Still no at-bats for Denny, who’s most likely out on the back fields in Minor League camp now.

In the “Future LumberKing” and “Wishful Thinking LumberKing” categories, second-baseman Nick Franklin has earned five at-bats, going 1-for-5 with two stolen bases.  Meanwhile, the Dustin Ackley experience has officially ended with his move to AA camp today.  Ackley went 3-for-19 with 3 RBI in 10 games.

Neither Kenn Kasparek nor Anthony Vasquez has pitched on a big-league mound since they both got called upon in Seattle’s March 3rd game against San Francisco.

Elsewhere

John Danks has come out sharp with the White Sox, giving up just 2 earned runs over 8.2
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At Milwaukee Brewers camp in Maryvale, Kameron Loe has allowed 3 runs over 5.0 innings in a pair of relief appearances.  Ruben Flores has not seen game action.

In “Dave Lezotte enemy territory” otherwise known as Chicago Cubs camp, new Northsider Thomas Diamond has yet to allow a run over 4.1 relief innings and has one save.

Nick Masset has a 9.00 ERA (3 ER in 3.0 IP) with Cincinnati.  No Edinson Volquez so far for the Reds as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery.

Grady Sizemore has homered and driven in 7 over just 9 at-bats with Cleveland.

Manny Pina is 0-for-4 over his first four games with his new club, the Kansas City Royals.  No sign of Tim Smith.

Switching over to the Grapefruit League, there’s been no reported sightings of Brett Lorin or Aaron Pribanic over in Pittsburgh Pirates camp, despite their usual young crop of arms.

Jason Bay has just one Spring homer so far with the Mets, and is 6-for-23 with 5 RBI in 9 games.

John Mayberry, Jr. is doing what John Mayberry, Jr. does.  He’s hitting .280 (7-for-25) with 3 doubles, a HR and 6 RBI with the defending NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Does anyone know where Brandon Watson is hiding these days?

-DL

Cactus League Update – March 10

Stoney.JPGApparently, life goes on without me in Arizona.  Today, Clinton’s current Major League affiliate took on its old one as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Texas Rangers, 6-3 in Surprise, AZ.

No former Kings played for the Mariners, but several familiar faces saw action for Texas.  The golden right arm of Neftali Feliz (’08) surrendered four runs over 2.0 innings in relief of C.J. Wilson, ballooning his ERA to 13.50.  Not a great start for a man looking to capture a rotation spot amidst a ton of talent.  Lefty Kasey Kiker (’07) fared better, yielding only a hit over a scoreless inning.

Mitch Moreland (’08) continues to impress.  He went 2-for-4 to raise his Spring average to .357.  Craig Gentry (’07) went 0-for-1 with an RBI, Justin Smoak (’08) reached base as a pinch-hitter and scored, Chad Tracy (’07) went 0-for-2 as did Emerson Frostad (’05), and Davis Stoneburner (’08, pictured) saw his first Spring action, going 1-for-1 with an RBI single.

Cliff Lee got the win for Seattle, giving up a run on five hits over 3.0 innings.

I don’t think I’ll be able to do an Alumni Update every day as Chris Mehring does over at his Rattlers Blog, but I will attempt to post game results from time to time as my busy schedule allows.  Hey, there’s a lot going on here this time of year.  More on that for another post.

-DL

Day 6 – Video and Pictures

My Spring Training trip officially ended yesterday as the Seattle Mariners took on the Milwaukee Brewers in Maryvale.  Whoever said that Arizona never gets rain and is always scorching hot was wrong.  It was a damp, cold morning in which the area temperature was –get this — just six degrees warmer than Milwaukee.

Still, it was an enjoyable afternoon.  I got up close to Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and company out by the batting cages, then ran into former LumberKings closer Ruben Flores (’09) on the practice fields.

“Flo” had the opportunity to suit up for the Crew as the emergency man in the bullpen and was hoping to face the team that drafted him.  Unfortunately for him (and me, as it would have made for great video), it didn’t happen.

My dream matchup was Flores against fellow former King Denny Almonte (’09), who was brought along as part of Seattle’s split squad that day.  Sadly, Denny also did not get into the game.

I did get some video on Dustin Ackley, who got the start at second base and went 1-for-5 with a triple.  The video I have wasn’t of the triple, but rather a frozen rope that would have dropped for a single if not for the ageless wonder Jim Edmonds, who made a shoestring catch to rob him.

By the way, the Brewers won, 6-2.

Video of my last day in the Cactus League can be found here:  “Scenes from Maryvale“.

Pictures:

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The Maryvale back fields.  It looks dreary, but that’s really only because of the weather.  The fields are each named after a famous Brewer.  I was somewhere between Paul Molitor Field, Rollie Fingers Field and Robin Yount Field.

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Field this way, clubhouse that way.

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Jim Edmonds stops to sign a few.  A Brewer this Spring, a Red or a Pirate next year?

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Ruben Flores suited up in Brewer blue.

 
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Flores in the Brewer bullpen.

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Denny Almonte on equipment bag detail.

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Almonte up close.

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Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik talking with Brewers broadcaster Bill Schroeder.  I used to be Bill’s research/stats guy.

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Dustin Ackley faces Brewers’ lefty Manny Parra.

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Maryvale, my last Cactus League stop this year.  I’ll be back.

And there you have it, five Cactus League games in six days (one rainout, unfortunately), five former LumberKings sighted and pictures/video of four different Spring Training facilities.  Every baseball fan needs to experience Spring Training at least once in their lives, and I highly recommend the Cactus League because of the close proximity and overall quality of the parks.

If you have just one day to spend in AZ, I’d recommend going to Camelback Ranch.  It’s the biggest of the Cactus League parks and has probably the best Southwestern feel and most unique back fields.  You also can’t go wrong with the laid-back atmosphere in Peoria, where the palm trees lining the berm make you feel like you’ve gone to a tropical locale.

Now, with under 30 days left until the start of the season, it’s back to Clinton.  See you there.

-DL

A New LumberKings.com Is Coming

Very, very soon.  As soon as myself and the good folks at MiLB.com can finish it.

Here’s a zoomed-out preview…

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-DL

Days 4 and 5 – Video and Pictures

Unfortunately, steady rain kept the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians off the field in Goodyear today.  Fortunately, I still got to the ballpark and shot some video of the Cactus League’s newest facility.  Also, I’ve gotten around to uploading my video from yesterday’s visit to Camelback Ranch.  Enjoy.

VIDEO:

PICTURES:

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goodyear 1.jpg
goodyear 2.jpgMy trip closes tomorrow in Maryvale as the Seattle Mariners (split squad) take on the Milwaukee Brewers at 1:05 PM.  Pictures and video to follow when I return to Clinton on Monday.

-DL

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