Alumni Newsletter Vol. 2

The Brewers lost 9-8 to the Reds on Sunday.

Martin Maldonado (’09) was the only ex-Rattler to get in the game. He went 0-for-1.

Matt Tuiasosopo is willing to play anywhere to make the Mariners Opening Day roster.

This is one family battle where Matt Tuiasosopo has no intention of keeping the details in-house.

In fact, the Mariners infielder has made it a point to ensure that on-field showdowns between him and his future brother-in-law, pitcher Micah Owings of the Arizona Diamondbacks, don’t get mentioned at the spring training home they’ve rented together. So, Owings didn’t joke about getting him to fly out to shallow right with a runner on third Friday afternoon and Tuiasosopo has kept quiet about hitting a homer and single off the D-backs reliever during a Class AAA game in 2008.

The pair didn’t know each other that first time around, but, a year later in 2009, Tuiasosopo began dating Owings’ sister, Abi. They got engaged in December, meaning, in many ways, that Tuiasosopo’s off-field life has become far more stable than what he’s living on the field.

“If you look, I’ve played third base, then second base, then left field and now I’m at first base,” Tuiasosopo, hitting .292 this spring, said with a chuckle on Saturday. “I just go where they need me to play. That’s what they need me to do if I want to make the team, so I’ve just got to do it.”

Tuiasosopo was recently asked by the Mariners to shift his concentration away from third base and focus on first base and left field. To some, that was a sign that Tuiasosopo, a bit of a surprising opening-day member the past two seasons, was in danger of having that streak end this year.

In reality, Tuiasosopo’s chances of making the team have probably increased with the developments in left field. Milton Bradley stands a good chance of being the opening-day left fielder, meaning the team could send Michael Saunders to Class AAA to ensure he continues to get daily playing time.
His play has been so dazzling at times this spring that the lone question surrounding him has been not if he will make it to the big leagues, but when, and will it be April 1 of this season.

The ease in which Lawrie has settled into third has been one of the more pleasant developments of the spring for the Jays.

“He sure has,” Tony LaCava, the Jays assistant general manager and vice-president of baseball operations replied when asked if Lawrie is surprising people with how well he is adapting to the new position. “He’s showed the ability to make the above-average play, which is interesting. That gives him a chance to be better than average.

“An average fielder should make average plays. The work will come with him when he has to make the routine plays, when he gets to make all of them and makes them regularly and becomes consistent with that. He has also shown the ability to make the above-average play which is really exciting. So, he’s exceeding our expectations defensively so far.”

How so?

“He’s doing some things at third base that some guys never ever do,” LaCava said. “Some times when he’s deep and gets an in-between hop, he knows to play through it instead of laying back and getting eaten up. He’s aggressive by nature and at times that’s how you have to play third base. It’s a reactive position and I think he has the skill sets to do it.”

For his part, Lawrie said his goals for the spring were to get to befriend his new teammates, get established and have some fun.

“It’s just been an opportunity for me to open up some eyes,” he said. “The more you get to know your teammates the easier it is to play because your surroundings are so much better. That’s been the thing for me here, just go out and have some fun and play the game like I’ve always played it.”

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