Timber Rattlers Spring Training – March 23, 2012

It started out as such a nice day

It was a great day to get to the ballpark early.  The weather in Arizona has warmed up and the players in the Timber Rattlers work group today seemed energized after Thursday’s light workload.

Heck, Jeff Isom even requested that I take a picture of him and Matt Erickson.

Matt Erickson and Jeff Isom, the two Timber Rattlers managers of the Brewers Era.

That’s how good a mood everyone was in this morning

This next portion of the post will be represented in slideshow form.  Plenty of drills, some batting practice, and Arizona Railbirds

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Not to say that the morning was without news.
Jeff Paxson is returning for his third year as the Rattlers Athletic Trainer this season.  We were going over the 2012 schedule and mapping out travel plans.  He asked me when the MLB All-Star Game was and when the Futures Game was and wondered aloud how he could make it back in time to catch the bus to Lake County…

“Why would that be a problem?  Are you working it?” I asked.

“Yep,” was his understated reply.

I think this is a pretty big deal.  Pax has been the Midwest League trainer of the Year for the last two seasons and was the Trainer of the Year for all of Minor League Baseball in 2011.  For him to get the opportunity to work the Futures Game is pretty neat.  Of course, he’ll have to work it instead of enjoying it, but still…It should be a mark of the regard that his peers hold for him.

Congratulations, Pax.

I also had the opportunity to talk with Cameron Garfield.  Gar has been a Timber Rattlers catcher in 2010 and 2011.  If you remember, he was injured during a game early in the 2011 season.  Then, he was injured in Arizona as he rehabbed for the first injury.  He said that he can do everything, but is being held out of games until his knee gets stronger.  Once that happens he’ll be able to get into games.  He is resigned to staying in Arizona to take part in extended spring training, but understands that it is what he needs to do.  Then, he’ll be back.

I’m pulling for that to happen for him.

While the players broke for lunch, I headed over to the big league ballpark.

Inside Maryvale Baseball Stadium.

One of the first people I saw was Adam McCalvy, the mlb.com Brewers beat writer.  He mentioned that he needs to work on a minor league preview article for next week.  I look forward to it.

The next couple of paragraphs – while containing information on former Brewers prospects – are specifically for one person. I don’t know if he reads anymore, but here goes.

I bumped into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in awhile.  Mike is a scout.  There are people out there who just wrecked their monitors because I called a scout an old friend….but that’s a different story.  Mike had been a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks and you would know him if you saw him.  He is a big guy, usually wore a big straw hat and would – on occasion – wear a loud Hawaiian shirt.

Mike wasn’t around last year, but he was sitting in the Media Workroom in Maryvale to scout the Brewers and the Angels.  We recognized each other immediately.  Mike told me that he now works for the Washington Nationals as one of their pro scouts.

He mentioned that he was not surprised that the Cardinals took Erik Komatsu in the Rule 5 draft.   Mike also keeps in touch with Cutter Dykstra.  Kid, Cutter is doing well and looking forward to a great season.  There is a chance for him to start in AA this year.

Time to get back over to Diamond 7 for the game between the Timber Rattlers and the Great Lakes Loons.  Plenty of good seats available:

Moments before first pitch between the Rattlers and Loons on Diamond 7.

The Rattlers starting lineup looked like this:

Michael Reed – RF
Orlando Arcia – SS
Michael Nemeth – DH
Nick Ramirez – 1B
Ken Allison – LF
Tyler Roberts – C
Ruben Ozuna – CF
Kevin Berard – 3B
Adrian Williams – 2B

Starting Pitcher:
Andrew Gagnon

Keep in mind that just because a player appears in the starting lineup for the Rattlers in a spring training game it does not mean that the player will be on the Opening Day roster for the Rattlers.  If I could find the starting lineups for the spring training games I attended last year, I would have a more solid number for you.  But, I think that at least a few of these guys may stay behind for extended spring training.  That is not to say that they could not be Rattlers at some point during 2012.

It’s just that some guys are really young, some guys don’t have much pro experience, and some guys don’t have a spot to play based on several factors.  I am making it sound simpler than it is.  Decisions aren’t easy and the Brewers front office people in charge of the minor leagues will put a lot of thought into who goes where over the next nine or ten days.  It’s not a job that I would want.

Friday’s game started with Gagnon striking out the first two batters, but a homer, a dropped foul pop, and a double put the Loons in line for a crooked number.  Then, Gagnon calmly struck out the final batter.

Andrew Gagnon on the hill.

The bottom of the first was when the day took a decided turn.

Arcia was hit by a pitch.  Believe it or not, I actually caught the pitch on its way at the 17-year old.

Arcia is about to get hit.

Then, with two outs and Arcia at second, Nick Ramirez swung at a 3-0 pitch.  He had a good swing, but fouled it back.  It was a swing like any of the hundreds that Ramirez has taken this Spring.  No one thought anything about it.  Ramirez, a top pick in the 2011 draft, has been stinging the ball of late and seemed primed to start the season with the Rattlers.

He stepped back into the box to await the next pitch.  Then, he called time.  He stepped in again.  Then, called time again and started walking off the field towards the Rattlers dugout.  Paxson met him halfway there and Ramirez pointed to his right hand.  I didn’t see Nick or Pax the rest of the day, but Ramirez did update his twitter account:

Well mental toughness comes into play now. Gotta stay strong

Read into that what you will.

Greg Hopkins, who was scheduled to come in later in the ballgame, grabbed a helmet and a bat and smacked the first pitch he saw into left-center for an RBI double to tie the game.

A two out rally from Ozuna (Bloop double) and Berard (broken bat single) in the second inning put the Rattlers up 2-1.  Here is Ozuna scoring the run with Adrian Williams directing traffic.

Ozuna scores a run.

Gagnon would allow a run in the top of the third, but Tyler Roberts threw out a would be base stealer to stop the Great Lakes rally.  I had Gagnon at: 3IP, 4H, 2R, BB, 4K.

Roberts is in a great mood.  You can tell that he was disappointed in the way last season turned out for him and that he wants to have a better year this year.  Later in the game, he drew a walk and went from first to third on a single to right.  I kidded him a bit about his performance and tossed in  “AND you threw a guy out at second!” He just said, “I could always do that last year.”

The Rattlers padded the lead with runs in the fourth and fifth as Drew Moye worked a couple of scoreless innings.

Andy Moye on the hill.

Moye did allow a run in the sixth, but pitched well over his three innings.  But, in Spring Training the instruction never ends:

Instruction never stops at this time of the year.

That’s Moye talking with Lee Tunnel, the Brewers Minor League Pitching Coordinator, and Dave Chavarria, the Timber Rattlers pitching Coach, after his work on the field.  Moye also worked three innings.  He allowed a run on one hit with a hit batsman and two strikeouts.

It was about the time that I took this picture that I heard about another injury.  Max Walla, a name that is frequently heard in discussions about Brewers prospects, was apparently hurt while trying to make a diving catch in the Brevard County game on Diamond #4.  Walla hit a home run in the Rising Stars Game at Miller Park last year.  I hope that he is going to be okay.

But, hope is such a dumb thing to have.

Just as I was finishing up this post, Mike Walla sent me a tweet.  Short story, Max is out for four weeks. Damn.

Let’s try this again.  I hope that Max Walla AND Nick Ramirez recover fully to return to play baseball ASAP.

Back in the Wisconsin game: The Rattlers blew the game open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to an odd play.  Wisconsin had the bases loaded and no outs and Gant Elmore at the plate.  Elmore sent a ground ball to short and it looked like a 6-4-3 double play.  But, Chad Stang, the runner at second was hit by the ball before it reached the Loons shortstop.  As Stang happily pointed out back at the dugout, that was the best case scenario. Not only did it keep the bases loaded and erase the double play, it also gave Elmore a base hit.  Canadians.

John Dishon cashed in the opportunity with a three-run double.

The Rattlers put the game away with scoreless innings from Seth Harvey (0 hits, 1K), Kevin Shackelford (1H, 0K), & Jacob Barnes (0H, K).

Seth Harvey (L) warms up in the bullpen before entering Friday's game. Tom Keeling (R) gets ready to go into the Brevard County game.

I did get a shot of the Rattlers dugout in the late stages of the game:

Where's Don?

If you enlarge that picture, should be able to find former Brewer Don Money.  He stopped down at my end of the dugout to chat for a bit.  I asked him if he would be in Appleton in his new role as a roving instructor.  He said that he would so, mark down that homestand against Burlington and Kane County from May 16-21 for Don Money at Time Warner Cable Field.  Keep in mind, he may be a little busy.

I like this shot.  Something about the score…even if it is a Spring Training Game:


I just like this shot, too.  Something about the mountains in the background

Baseball in Arizona definitely has its moments.

Tomorrow is another full day for the Timber Rattlers work group.  A 9am workout and a trip to Tempe to face the Cedar Rapids Kernels work group.

And I can’t wait for it to get here.

Before ending this, a word from our sponsors.  If you have enjoyed these articles, please consider coming out to a Timber Rattlers game at Time Warner Cable Field this season.  You may purchase tickets online right here.  Or, if you wish, stop by the Ticket Office or give them a call at (800) WI-TIMBER or (920) 733-4152.  Tell them about getting the idea from Mehring on Rattler Radio.  It might shock them a bit.

Thank you.

1 Comment

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. The updates are great.

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