Timber Rattlers Spring Training – March 24, 2012
I (almost) Called It!
It was a short practice day for the Timber Rattlers squad today since there was a road trip to Tempe for a game against the Angels in the afternoon.
Short, but full.
First basemen took grounders and worked on flips to the pitchers:
The Timber Rattlers groups today were:
Group One: Elmore, Arcia, Stang, Hopkins
Group Two: Franco, Allison, Dishon
Group Three: Rogers, Nemeth, Rivera
Group Four: Roberts, Moscatel, Weisenburger
The way it worked today, one group hit on the field, another hit in the cages, one group ran, and another was in the field. Every group was less than ten minutes and got everything done that they needed to do.
It was during the first group that I kidded Greg Hopkins about being thrown out at third base in Friday’s game against the Loons. He had doubled to drive in two runs, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple. I said, “You got everything BUT faster in the offseason.”
“NO! I got faster,” Hopkins replied.
“I want to see a Greg Hopkins inside-the-park homer this season,” I said.
“Outfielders will have to collide,” he responded.
I didn’t think anything more of it at the time. No way it would ever happen.
The game at the Angels minor league complex in Tempe started at one pm. The Timber Rattlers were playing the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Midwest League affiliate of the Angels. By the way, the Rattlers open up the 2012 season at Time Warner Cable Field against the Kernels on Thursday, April 5. Tickets available here.
Across the walkway, the Brevard County Manatees, Milwaukee’s Florida State League affiliate, faced the Inland Empire 66ers, the California League affiliate of the Angels. More on that later.
The first Timber Rattlers pitcher was lefthander Manuel Ruiz.
Ruiz worked three scoreless innings with two strikeouts. The only hit that he allowed was a one out bunt single in the second inning…to the Kernels #5 hitter. Welcome to Angels baseball, folks!
The Rattlers grabbed the lead in the second inning. Adam Weisenburger drew a two out walk and Yadiel Rivera smacked a triple to the gap in right center.
In Rivera’s only other plate appearance, he lined out to the second baseman. That’s two balls hit hard to the opposite field. He only had to make two defensive plays at short – both times he accepted throws. One led to him running down a base runner after a pickoff the other was on a force play at second.
Rivera had a cameo with the Timber Rattlers in 2011. I have a feeling that he will get a more extended look in the Midwest League in 2012. I also have a feeling that people are going to like what they see.
David Gorforth replaced Ruiz for the fourth inning and he would work three scoreless innings. There was only one hard hit ball against Goforth. He gave up three hits – a sharp single to right, an infield dribbler, and a broken bat blooper that dropped just inside the right field foul line. He also struck out three.
Goforth sat comfortably at 94 and reached 98 – according to the Timber Rattlers radar gun. That is inline with his writeup in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. That publication places him as the #17 prospect in the Brewers organization and says:
Goforth’s four-seam fastball is erratic at times, but when he comes out of the bullpen he throws it comfortably at 94-97 mph and peaks at 99. He has had trouble throwing secondary pitches for strikes, though he helped himself in that regard by added an 88-92 mph cutter last spring.
Baseball America thinks that Goforth will start 2012 in the rotation at Wisconsin to build some innings.
The game remained 1-0 until the seventh inning. Weisenburger drew a walk with one out, Orlando Arcia reached on an error, and Gant Elmore walked. John Dishon came up with two outs and drew a walk to force in Weisenburger.
Then, I had this really weird moment of Did THAT just happen?
Hopkins stepped up an lined a pitch to center. The Kernels centerfielder raced back, leapt, and missed the ball. He crashed to the ground and apparently knocked the breath out of him because he did not get up to chase after the ball, which happened to roll out to the fence – a mere 422′ from home plate.
Hopkins raced around the bases and score without a play
Just a routine Inside-the-park Grand Slam. Seriously. That happened. Maybe he did get faster.
The rest of the game was academic. Wisconsin scored one more run, Arcia singled in the ninth and would eventually score on a wild pitch.
Wisconsin sent four more pitchers out to each work an inning.
7th: RHP Tommy Toledo – 0H, K
8th: LHP Mike Francisco – 0H, K
9th: LHP Connor Whalen – 0H, 2K
*10th: RHP Seth Lintz – 0H, HBP, 0K
*The Rattlers didn’t bat in the tenth. When Whalen was done with his inning, the defense stayed on the field and Lintz came out of the bullpen for his three outs…Spring Training, Everybody!
Did you happen to notice anything missing when I talked about the pitchers. I’ll bold it: Ten innings, Nine strikeouts, No Walks!
The Manatees game was still going after the Rattlers wrapped up. That allowed a few guys to be fans, if only for a brief time:
The Manatees won their game 13-2. I saw three-run homers by Jimmie Pharr and Kyle Dhanani in that game. Scoreless innings by Eric Arnett, Greg Holle, Tyler Cravy were tossed, too. Brooks Hall, Evan Anundsen, and Eric Marzec also pitched for the Manatees today, but I’m not sure how they did.
Most importantly today, no injuries.
Max Walla and Nick Ramirez AND Michael Reed were injured yesterday. Walla (Four weeks) and Ramirez (Six weeks) are out for extended periods of time. Reed’s was minor and he will probably be back in games early next week.
There is another short day planned for tomorrow. Morning workout and at 10:45am Arizona time, the Rattlers will face the Manatees in a five inning game. Matt Miller is scheduled to pitch for the Rattlers. Jimmy Nelson is set to start for Brevard County. Both pitchers are scheduled to pitch five innings.
I will be there and updating the game on twitter – @CMehring – with a full writeup after the game.