March 2010

As Seen In the Arizona Republic

As mentioned on Thursday, I was interviewed by Peter Corbett of the Arizona Republic for an article regarding Spring Training.  The article made its way online yesterday.

Unfortunately, no mention of “The LumberBlog” by name, nor does it mention the Clinton LumberKings, but still, it’s always nice to see your name in print.

You can check out the article here:  http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/2010/03/05/20100305giants-baseball-returns.html

I’ll have video and pictures in the near future of the Dodgers/White Sox game I shot today, including pictures of Camelback Ranch and Manny being Manny.

Tomorrow, if the rain holds off, it’s plenty of former Kings on display as the Texas Rangers take on the Cleveland Indians in Goodyear, AZ.

-DL

Days 2 and 3 – Videos and Pictures

You’ve already read the story, now here’s the videos and pictures.

VIDEOS:

PICTURES:

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Scottsdale Stadium, Spring home of the San Francisco Giants.

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Former Timber Rattler Cody Scarpetta pitches for the Brewers.

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Myself at the Avalanche/Coyotes game.  Yes, that’s a Joe Sakic jersey.

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The Avs’ starting five lined up for the National Anthem.

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Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik interacting with a fan.

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Dustin Ackley (center) prepares to hit on one of the practice fields.

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The game ball from Cliff Lee’s simulated game today.  Thanks again, JT.

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Former LumberKing Andrew Carraway.

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The Peoria press box cleared out a bit after Ichiro exited the game.

-DL

Spring Training, Day 3

Hello again from the hotel computer lab!

I’m still unable to load pictures and video (trust me, there’s plenty more), but I’ll give you a brief update of my day thus far.

I spent the afternoon back out at Peoria, this time checking out the back fields as the Mariners geared up for a 1:00 PM game against the San Diego Padres.  I didn’t run into any former LumberKings out there, but I did get the chance to see current Kings manager John Tamargo, Special Assistant John Boles, Director of Player Development Pedro Grifol and General Manager Jack Zduriencik.

I unfortunately missed the Felix Hernandez/Cliff Lee simulated game by just minutes, but I did get a nice souvenir.  Upon seeing JT, he handed me the last baseball used by Lee in his session.

I shot a few photos of Dustin Ackley getting some cuts and also got a good look at Eric Byrnes and Franklin Gutierrez as they took BP.

Following that, I met up with Jeff Evans and Fernando Alcala of the Mariners’ Media Relations staff and was able to talk shop and get a behind-the-scenes look inside their offices.  I also got my hands on my first Mariners’ 2010 Media Guide and a trip to the pressbox.

At the game, I was able to chat with former LumberKings right-hander Andrew Carraway (’09), the man scheduled for emergency duty out of the bullpen today.  I snapped a few pictures and got video of Carraway throwing in the pen, but unfortunately he did not get into what turned out to be a 9-3 Mariners’ loss.

As soon as I can, I’ll get pictures and video up on the Peoria back diamonds and Carraway’s big-league bullpen session.

Tomorrow, I venture out to Camelback Ranch to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Chicago White Sox.  Hopefully I’ll see Manny being Manny, some “he gone” action and more.

-DL

Spring Training, Day 2

Hello once again from Arizona, this time from the computer center at my hotel in Scottsdale.  I found some free internet (although no way to hook up my digital camera) and thought I might take advantage.

No former LumberKings suited up for the Mariners today, however, Seattle did win their first Cactus League game 9-3 over San Diego.  Ryan Garko and Tommy Everidge each went yard in their Mariner debuts.  You can read the box score here.

I was nowhere near Peoria today, rather, I was checking out the Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco Giants (again) at Scottsdale Stadium.  A quick summary of my day there:  I snagged three batting practice homers without the aid of a glove (thanks, Aubrey Huff), was interviewed by a writer from the Arizona Republic for a Saturday feature and got sunburned beyond belief.  Oh yeah, and Prince Fielder got the long-awaited retalitory plunk from Barry Zito as the main highlight of a 5-3 Giants win.

Elsewhere, Mitch Moreland (’08) went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI as the Rangers pounded Kansas City, 13-3 in Surprise.  Several former Kings had a nice day at the plate, including Craig Gentry (2-for-3, 2 runs scored) and Chad Tracy (1-for-1, RBI triple, 2 runs scored).

Now, for the “this has nothing to do with baseball” news.  This evening, I attended my very first regular-season NHL game to watch my favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche take on the Phoenix Coyotes.  John-Michael Liles tied the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal in the second period, but the Coyotes won in the final seconds as the just-traded former Avs winger Wojtek Wolski beat Craig Anderson for the winner.  Deflating, but still the most fun I’ve had at a hockey game.

I will have some pictures and video of my day in Scottsdale coming up next week.  Tomorrow, it’s back to Peoria as the Mariners take on the Padres again.  The buzz will be out on the back fields as Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee are scheduled to throw simulated games.  I might get some pictures of that, if I can get close enough.  Stay tuned.

-DL 

Greetings from Peoria, AZ

GreetingsfromAZ.jpgMy six-day journey through the Cactus League officially kicked off today at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ, and boy what a start it was.  Today’s game between the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants featured all the great Spring storylines…a Cy Young award-winner getting roughed up, a host of new faces trying to make good first impressions, a late four-run rally, a future star tying the game in the bottom of the ninth, and a pair of former LumberKings getting hurled into some unexpected duty.

Where to begin?  Well, not more than 20 minutes after my arrival, I ran into some old friends.

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That’s left-hander Anthony Vasquez (left) and 6’10″ right-hander Kenn Kasparek (right), both members of the Clinton starting rotation last season.  I spoke most with the 2009 Midwest League ERA champ Kasparek, who told me that he and Vasquez were essentially the “emergency” guys for the game.  For those of you unfamiliar with that term, various pitchers from minor league camp are asked to sit in the bullpen for big-league games in case the team burns through its scheduled pitchers or the game goes to extra innings.  More on that later.

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After catching up with Vasquez, Kasparek and former pitching coach Lance Painter, I settled in for the start of the game.  I shot some video on both the Peoria Sports Complex, the Mariners taking the field for the first time and right-hander Doug Fister’s first pitch of the Spring:

Fister didn’t fare well after that first-pitch strike, yielding a three-run homer to Aubrey Huff in the first inning for a 3-0 Giants lead.  That lead would be short-lived as the Mariners responded with a three-run home half on the strength of a Ken Griffey Jr. sac fly and a pair of RBI singles by Jose Lopez and Casey Kotchman.  By the way, all that damage came against an erratic ace in Tim Lincecum (pictured below, staring down Ichiro).

 

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The Giants built a 7-3 lead thanks in part to a two-run double by shortstop Emmanuel Burriss, but the Mariners fought back with two runs in the sixth and two more in the ninth.  Former Wisconsin Timber Rattler Michael Saunders doubled to help set up the late rally, and the game-tying run came across on an RBI groundout up the middle by super-prospect Dustin Ackley.

That’s when Kasparek was suddenly summoned to warm up.  Pitching coach Rick Adair had used all seven of his scheduled pitchers, leaving only former LumberKings in the pen for the 10th.  That meant it was Kenn’s turn to jog to a Major League mound for the first time.

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Despite Painter’s “just have fun” advice, Kasparek looked a bit nervous while struggling to find the strikezone.  He walked all three men he faced before getting the hook from Manager Don Wakamatsu.  The only arm left in the cupboard?  Vasquez.

vasquez.spring.debut.jpgThe other former King couldn’t strand the bases full, yielding the game-winning RBI single to pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman.  He did, however, execute a brilliant 1-2-3 double-play (unfortunately no video of this) to end the inning.  The Mariners then went quickly in the bottom of the 10th for the 8-7 loss.

Kasparek took the loss in his first pro appearance, but today still must have been a thrill for both he and Vasquez.  If not for them, it certainly was for me.  Any taste of the big leagues, even if it’s only an early-March Spring Training game, has got to be sweet. 

One “LumberBlog Programming Note” to pass along…

Unfortunately, due to $14.95 internet access here at the hotel in Scottsdale, I will likely be postponing the rest of my Cactus League blog updates until I return to Clinton.  Still, expect plenty more pictures and video, including more from Peoria as the Mariners take on the San Diego Padres this Friday.

-DL

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