February 2011

Brewers Cactus League Opening Day!

The Milwaukee Brewers have a pair of games today to kick off the Cactus League schedule

One split squad, led by Weeks, first baseman Prince Fielder and starter Shaun Marcum will host the World Series champion Giants at Maryvale Baseball Park. Another, led by left fielder Ryan Braun, will travel to Mesa, Ariz., to play the rival Cubs.

It marks the start of a 32-game exhibition schedule that will carry the Brewers and their high hopes to a March 31 regular-season opener in Cincinnati.

“Obviously, the acquisitions are going to make things exciting this year,” left-hander Randy Wolf said.

I was taking a look at the game notes and – keeping in mind that this could change – Wily Peralta (’09) is scheduled to be the second pitcher out of the Brewers bullpen in the game against the Giants. Cody Scarpetta (’09) is scheduled to be the second pitcher out of the Brewers bullpen in the game against the Cubs.

Other ex-Rattlers involved in the games today..They’re names are bolded.

In the Giants game:

Joining the team today from minor-league camp is RHP Nick Bucci (37), LHP Chris Cody (57), RHP Mike Fiers (63), INF Carlos George (91), 1B Sean Halton (98), 1B Cody Hawn (96), OF Lee Haydel (5), OF Brendan Katin (97), OF Brock Kjeldgaard (95), OF Erik Komatsu (93), INF Sergio Miranda (15), INF T.J. Mittelstaedt (94), C Rafael Neda (92), INF Yadiel Rivera (90) and C Shawn Zarraga (99).

Meanwhile over in the Cubs game:

Joining the team today from minor-league camp is RHP Eulogio De La Cruz (96), LHP Brian Garman (43), RHP Donovan Hand (98), RHP Jim Henderson (99), INF Cutter Dykstra (92), OF Robbie Garvey (95), INF Scooter Gennett (3), INF Taylor Green (93), OF Brandon Jones (97), OF Reggie Keen (94), OF D’Vontrey Richardson (96), C Tyler Roberts (53), SS Shea Vucinich (91).

The game against the Giants is on WTMJ (and the web) this afternoon at 2pm CST.

The Duke

Sad news in the baseball world over the weekend.

In the 1950s, three future Hall of Famers played center field for New York ball clubs: Willie Mays for the Giants, Mickey Mantle for the Yankees and Duke Snider for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Never has there been more talent at one position in one city. And never was a player more a part of a town than the powerful Snider was for Brooklyn.
Snider passed away Sunday at the age of 84. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980.
….
Snider was named to eight All-Star Games and was named the Major League Player of the Year in 1955 by the Sporting News. He finished first in the National League in hits, runs, on-base percentage, RBIs, extra base hits, home runs, total bases and intentional walks in at least one season his career.

He was also an outstanding outfielder.

“The greatest catch I ever saw was one made by Snider in 1954, when he climbed the wall of Connie Mack Stadium like a mountain goat to take an extra base hit away from Willie Jones of the Phillies,” teammate Pee Wee Reese once said.

Snider hit 40 or more home runs in each of the last five seasons the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field before spending five more years with the team in Los Angeles. He collected the first hit in Dodger Stadium and was named captain in 1962, his last season as a Dodger.

Snider finished his career with a .295 batting average, 2,116 hits, 407 home runs and 1,333 RBI, playing for the Dodgers (1947-62), Mets (1963) and Giants (1964). He also totaled 11 home runs and 26 RBI in World Series play.

Here is the link to Edwin Donal Snider’s page at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Go there.  Then, read Boys of Summer.  You will probably understand that The Duke was more than just a word to give Terry Cashman a rhyme for Dubuque.

Speaking of which…

Scarpetta at JS Online

Tom Haudricourt has a Getting to Know: Cody Scarpetta feature at JSOnline.

Right-hander Cody Scarpetta is one of the more interesting pitching prospects in the Brewers’ spring camp, both because of his talent and his unusual roster status.

Because a technicality related to a pre-existing finger injury forced the Brewers to void their original signing and place Scarpetta on their 40-man roster prematurely after he was drafted in 2007, the “option clock” started ticking earlier than normal.

Scarpetta hopes to make that unusual situation a non-issue by moving to the big leagues as quickly as possible. And by getting a third big-league camp at the tender age of 22, the big right-hander is soaking up as much knowledge and advice as possible.

“I want to continue to work hard and keep developing,” said Scarpetta, an 11th round pick in 2007. “Being in big-league camp has helped me a lot.

“You always want to keep working on your game. I try to listen and talk to as many guys as possible, then bring that advice into my game. I’ve already learned a lot.”

Scarpetta has shown an aptitude for coaching as well. When he was struggling with his command in the early weeks of the 2010 season at high Class A Brevard County, he was brought in for repairs by Manatees pitching coach Fred Dabney and minor-league pitching coordinator Lee Tunnell.

Dabney and Tunnell showed Scarpetta that he wasn’t fully incorporating his lower half into his delivery, and once those adjustments were made, the results gradually improved. When all was said and done, Scarpetta finished with a deceptive 7-12 record and 3.87 ERA in 27 starts, with a ******** 142 strikeouts in 128 innings.

Big surprise

Get this…The Royals really like Jeremy Jeffress

Ned Yost, now the Royals’ skipper, was managing the Milwaukee Brewers when they made the right-handed Jeffress a first-round Draft choice in 2006.

“When I saw him before, he had very raw stuff, coming at you with a 101, 102 mph fastball,” Yost said. “Decent breaking ball, command was an issue for him, like it is for all young pitchers. But he’s definitely refined his command to the point where he throws a lot more strikes with that really good stuff. He’s impressive so far.”

What about this “exploding” stuff?

“It jumps on you. There’s a difference,” Yost said. “There are guys that throw hard, but you can see it the whole way. When it comes out of his hand, it just like gets there and goes ‘shhhhhhhhhhmp!’ You think you see it, but you don’t see it.”

That’s the hope anyhow and, if enough batters don’t see it, Jeffress is likely to be part of the Royals’ bullpen this year.

Moore…Adam Moore

Geoff Baker has the story of former Timber Rattlers catcher Adam Moore (’06) and the similarities to Miguel Olivo, his current teammate with the Seattle Mariners:

His voice is an enthusiastic soundtrack of wisecracks, cuss words in two languages and constant encouragement, echoing around the fields like the pops of baseballs hitting gloves.

Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo admits he’s having far more fun than he did during his first go-round with Seattle in the middle of the last decade. Olivo, who turns 33 in July, is all grown up now, having exchanged his daunting “catcher of the future” label for that of a proven major-league veteran.

But he remembers the hard times, much as he has tried to forget them. So he naturally had plenty to say this week when second-year catcher Adam Moore, whose own struggles mirror those Olivo faced years ago, approached him for advice.

…..

Moore hit just .195 in 60 games and had a team-high 58 starts behind the plate last season. The Mariners wound up trading equally unproductive catcher Rob Johnson to the Padres, then signed Olivo to a two-year, $7 million deal to start ahead of Moore.

That was quite a disappointment for Moore, 26, who’d dazzled in a brief September stint in 2009 and had team officials and fans gushing about a bright future. The same way former general manager Bill Bavasi gushed about Olivo in 2004, when he acquired him from the White Sox as a key piece of the Freddy Garcia trade.

“I just brought it up and asked him about it,” Moore said. “He went through the same struggles I went through here. He told me ‘You’ve got to continue to work hard and think about the positives that happened last year.’ “

Thursday Program post (1964)

I didn’t know that we had this one until I started looking this morning.  Amazing what you can find…when you are not looking for it.

The 1964 Fox Cities Foxes Program cover.  A Colossus doth bestride the Fox Cities.

1964cover.jpgAnd the staff page from the 1964 Foxes program with an ad for a typewriter rental shop.

1964staff.jpgThe honorable Mr. Mitchell looks like a mayor of the mid-1960′s, yes?

I wonder how many Foxes ran into an out trying to stretch a double into a triple at Goodland Field in an effort to get that free lunch.

Additions to The Interrogation Room

Kyle Heckathorn’s turn in The Interrogation Room was not done.  I had a few follow up questions and he responded on Tuesday.  BUT, his answers got caught by my email filter and the update didn’t show up until this morning.  Which is weird because his original answers came through fine on Monday…technology….we do live in an age of miracles and wonders.

I will update the piece on the home page later this morning, but here are his updates.

TIR: What makes the Lake County game stand out for you?

KH: Lake County was the best game I had this year in both leagues. I had great command and threw my first complete game. It was one of the days whens everything was working together, which doesn’t happen everyday so when they do you take advantage of the moment, which turned out well for me that day.

TIR: What kind of different situations are you learning how to handle?

KH: Just with the fans and the pace of the game. How to react when you dont have your best stuff, but you still have to compete and give you team a chance to win.

TIR: Would you let fans know what the off season workouts you got from the Brewers were like?

KH: The workouts were pretty tough. They give us a program to follow with lots of cardio and different types of workouts that lead up to spring training so when you report your right on track with everyone else.

Thanks to Kyle Heckathorn for stepping into The Interrogation Room this week.

Oh, West Michigan, youve done it again!

First they brought you the Swimming Pig.  Then, they brought you the Fifth Third Burger!

Among the food dishes that the West Michigan Whitecaps are looking at bringing in this season:

Walking Spaghetti – Love spaghetti but hate the hassle of using a plate? The Whitecaps understand your frustration, so we’ve replaced the archaic concept of a plate with the innovative idea to carry this Italian delight around on garlic bread. We smother the giant 16-inch loaf of Cole’s garlic bread with a pound of spaghetti, meatballs, a quart of marinara and a pound of cheese, and now it’s Walking Spaghetti. Magnifico! And at a ******** 5,630 calorie count, it dwarfs the relatively slender Fifth Third Burger, which weighs in at 4,889 calories.

Spaghetti.jpgOh, you want a bigger picture? Here is this one from Amanda Loman of The Grand Rapids Press.

WalkingSpaghetti.jpgI have enough carbs to run a marathon after just looking at that picture.

Then – also from Amanda Loman – there is this…

BolognaLollipop.jpg
…I…What?…I….

Bologna Lollipop – No, that’s not a misprint. And it’s exactly what you’d imagine. Bologna? Check. Stick? Check. Put the five-inch diameter, inch-thick slice of fried bologna on the stick and you’ve got a bologna lollipop.

Elvis approves. You must go to the link up to that takes you to the Whitecaps website to see the other eight items that are up for vote. It’s almost too bad that the Rattlers don’t go to West Michigan in the regular season for 2011.

Its pretty much the same at the minor league level

I am a few days late to this, but I saw this on the new Peanuts and Cracker Jack blog at jsonline.com and wanted to share this post about how the Brewers get balanced and nutritious meals from their clubhouse.

The comforting smell of bagels and Belgian waffles greets the Brewers as they open the clubhouse doors every morning.  On their way in to the locker room, they pass a kitchen stocked and ready with a hearty, continental breakfast.

Since arriving from the off-season, each player has taken special attention to diet.  They make sure to arrive at least an hour early to fill their plates with the freshly-prepared food.

Infielder Luis Cruz starts every day with a bowl of granola topped with strawberries, bananas and yogurt to keep his first meal light.  He enjoys the healthy cuisine after spending winter at home in Mexico with greasier foods.

“You want to eat the best stuff for your body,” Cruz says.

Leslie Bonci, the team nutritionist, helps plan the players’ meals.  She works with the home clubhouse assistant, Matt Smith, to provide high carb meals before games and high protein after.  She will arrive at the spring training facilities on Saturday to meet with players and staff to develop a general nutrition concept for the team.

The nutritionist on staff for the Timber Rattlers would be the trainer, the strength and conditioning coach, and the clubhouse manager.  But they do follow direction from up the ladder on healthy eating.

If you walk through the clubhouse at Time Warner Cable Field there are bowls of fruit, oatmeal packets, and various other healthy options for breakfast.  After batting practice on the evening of a night game, there are various healthy options for a pregame meal.  After the game – or after their post-game workouts, there are some good food options for players.

A little plug for the Peanuts and Cracker Jack blog.  Tom Haudricourt is the lead Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  But, since Anthony Witrado left the paper, the Journal-Sentinel needed some help.  They decided to bring seven students from the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism to complement the coverage the events of Spring Training.  So far, so good. 

Shawn Kelley and Alex Liddi

A pair of Spring Training Stories about a pair of former Timber Rattlers.

First up, here is pitcher Shawn Kelley from the Everett Herald:

This isn’t the first time Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Shawn Kelley has rehabbed from surgery on his right elbow. Eight years ago while he was in college, Kelley had full-blown “Tommy John” ligament replacement and pushed himself through the year-plus struggle of pain and recovery in order to pitch again.

But after his latest surgery, even though the procedure Sept. 1 wasn’t as complex, Kelley’s perspective on it has been much more serious. This time he has a profession to resume and a family, especially his newborn son Parker, who he dreams of watching him pitch in the major leagues.

“You look at it now from a this-is-my-job perspective,” the 26-year-old said. “I’m pretty confident that life after baseball will be fine, I’ll figure something out. But at the same time, I want to do this. I want my son to grow up and be able to run around the clubhouse. I want him to see me pitch.”

Next, here is a Geoff Baker article on Alex Liddi that labels Liddi the ‘latest, greatest Italian import’:

Something always seemed odd about Alex Liddi and his family as he grew up on the shores of the Mediterranean.

The residents of picturesque San Remo, Italy, once home to Alfred Nobel and scores of poets, writers and tourists of all stripes, know a thing or two about sports. They have a 100-year-old soccer team and serve as the finish line of a highly popular cross-country cycling rally.

But baseball was as foreign as a Mexican breakfast burrito.

Until, that is, some of the town’s 57,000 inhabitants ventured over to the Liddi place, where a baseball-crazed father and a former softball-playing mother were raising young Alex to be perhaps the country’s biggest export in a game few in the neighborhood understand.

“In parts of Italy, baseball is popular, but not in San Remo,” said Liddi, 22, now a Class AA third baseman rising rapidly in the Mariners’ system. “Everyone there knows soccer, but me, I loved baseball.”

Only seven Italian-born baseball players have made it to the major leagues, and none since Reno Bertoia a half-century ago. But Bertoia’s family had moved him to Canada at age 1. Liddi grew up a true Italian son, raised on pasta, prosciutto, focaccia bread and a whole lot of baseball courtesy of his dad.

There is a lot more at both links.

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