Timber Rattlers Spring Training – March 25, 2012

Pitchers on Parade;
Rattlers v. Manatees on My Last Day in Arizona

Chris Narveson prepares to face Jimmy Nelson on Sunday.

Fans who showed up for the 10:45am game between the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Brevard County Manatees on Sunday in the Brewers minor league complex got a surprise.

Chris Narveson, Yovani Gallardo, and Zack Greinke all got into the game to hit in game conditions against prospects Jimmy Nelson and Matt Miller.

More on that in a moment.

The day started later than usual. Players did not get out on to the field until 10am. There were some brief warmups

Before the games started, Chris Dennis stopped over to say hello. I asked him where he had been because I hadn’t seen him in camp during my time down here. He mentioned that he had been out with a concussion – he was hit in the head with a pitch in his first at bat of camp. But, he should be back on the field this week. Fingers crossed.

The Timber Rattlers and the Manatees had a five inning game scheduled. There were some slight changes to the lineups that I had reported on twitter earlier this morning. So, here are the lineups as they actually were:

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers:
Ruben Ozuna – LF
Orlando Arcia – SS
Michael Nemeth – 3B
Jason Rogers – 1B
Kenneth Allison – RF
Brent Dean – C
Gant Elmore – 2B
Kevin Berard – CF
Jimmy Nelson – P

Brevard County Manatees:
John Dishon – CF
Brandon Macias – SS
Cody Hawn – 1B
Mike Walker – 3B
Ben McMahan – RF
Tyler Robers – C
Chris McFarland – 2B
Matt Franco – LF
Matt Miller – P

Narveson, Gallardo, and Greinke were sprinkled in through the lineup multiple times for both teams to get their cuts.

I kept score as best I could so what follows is the play-by-play of the game. I will sprinkle in some pictures and save comments for the end.

Timber Rattlers First:
Narveson strikes out swinging
Ozuna walks
Ozuna caught stealing 2-6
Arcia F7

Manatees First:
Narveson strikes out swinging
Dishon doubles off the third base bag
Dishon picked off second 1-6
Hawn F7

Rattlers Second:
Nemeth singles
Rogers flies out to deep right -center
Allison singles, Nemeth to second
Dean out L4, Allison doubled off at 1st for double play

Manatees Second:
Greinke L5
Walker strikes out swinging
Gallardo 5-3

Rattlers Third:
Narveson strikes out swinging
Gallardo singles
Elmore 5-3, Gallardo to second
Berard F8

Greinke singles off Miller.

Manatees Third:
McMahan singles
Roberts reaches on FC, McMahan safe at second. McMahan to third on E6, Roberts out 9-4-3 at first
McFarland singles, McMahan scores.
McFarland out 2-6 CS
Franco F7

Rattlers Fourth:
Gallardo F7
Greinke singles
Ozuna reaches on FC, Greinke out 6-4
Ozuna steals second, takes third on E-2
Arcia out 3U

Matt Miller makes a pitch on Sunday.

Manatees Fourth:
Dishon strikes out looking
Macias 3-1
Hawn 4-3

Jimmy Nelson ready to come home with a pitch.

Rattlers Fifth:
Nemeth strikes out looking
Rogers strikes out swinging
Allison walks
Allison takes second on wild pitch
Dean doubles, Allison scores
Elmore 4-3

Kenneth Allison scores the tying run in the fifth inning on Sunday.

Manatees Fifth:
Walker walks
McMahan grounds into 6-3 double play
Roberts singles
McFarland 5-3

Michael Nemeth at third base on Sunday.

Lines:
Nelson: 5IP, 4H, R, 0ER, 2BB, 4K
Miller: 5IP, 5H, R, ER, 2BB, 3K

Gallardo’s hit off Miller in the third inning was a high popup that dropped in front of the mound after the infielders had trouble picking the ball out of the Arizona sky.

Greinke hit the ball hard twice. His single was sharply hit between the shortstop and third baseman in the fourth. Nemeth made a nice play on the line drive in the second.

Last point on the major leaguers in this game. After Narveson was struck out by Nelson in the Manatees first inning, I thought that I heard him say the phrase “downhill thunder”. “Downhill Thunder” would be Nelson’s 94 with heavy, crazy sink.  Nelson has been pitching that way since the second half of the Timber Rattlers season in 2011.

By my count, Nelson broke three bats on Sunday.  One was on the double by Dishon in the first – the ball hit off the third base bag.  The second was on a bloop single by McMahan in the third.  The last was on Cody Hawn’s ground out in the fourth.  It is going to be fun following Nelson this summer if he can keep that going for himself.

One last note on Nelson: Of the four hits he allowed on Sunday, two were on broken bats, one was through a drawn-in infield (McFarland’s RBI single in the third), one a sharp single to the outfield by Roberts.

No velocity reports on how Miller threw.  I thought he looked good.  He didn’t struggle with control as much as he did at times last season.  I briefly spoke with Tyler Roberts about Miller after the game.  Country said there were times that Miller came off his breaking stuff and tried to make it do too much, but aside from that he liked what he saw.  The two-out walk in the fifth and the wild pitch kept Miller from a clean sheet.

Country also wanted to talk Base Running 101 after the game.  He KNOWS that he rounded the base too far in that situation in the third inning.  He also sheepishly admitted that he almost got caught again after his single in the fifth.  It’s a long, long road.

Both catchers, Roberts and Dean made strong throws to second base to cut down base runners.  Roberts caught Ozuna in the first.  Dean got McFarland in the third.  Roberts committed an error on a throw in the fourth when Ozuna ran on him again.  This throw was a little low and a little to the first base side of the bag with the shortstop covering.

But, throwing to second has never been a concern for Tyler Roberts.

Defensively, Arcia rushed a throw while trying to turn a double play in the third.  His off target throw to Elmore covering wound up in right field.  He didn’t have to rush it.  Roberts was the other runner.  Later in the game, Arcia made a very nice double play against McMahan.  Walker was on first and McMahan hit a high chopper near the second base bag.  Arcia handled a shorthop, stepped on the bag and threw to first in time.

If you remember one thing about Orlando Arcia this year, remember this…He does not turn 18 until August 4, 2012.

Staying on the defense.  Including the play on the Greinke liner that was noted above, Nemeth made several nice plays at third in the game. He also made tough barehanded plays to retire Gallardo in the second and McFarland in the fifth.

During the game, I chatted a bit with Brian Garman, a Rattlers reliever during 2011.  Garman pitched on Thursday, but has been shutdown for a bit after that last outing.  He thought he should be back in action soon.

I also spotted another Rattler reliever from 2011:

STOSH!

Since this is my last day in Arizona, I guess that it would be about this point of the column when I should make predictions on the players I think will be in Appleton to start the season.  It is hard to make those predictions.  A lot can happen in the final week of camp.  I’m pretty sure that both Nick Ramirez and Max Walla were slated to come to Appleton, but their injuries have set back that plan.

Plus, the Brewers minor league people will need to make some decisions on cuts over the next few days.

There is a good possibility that we won’t know what the team will be until they get on the plane to Wisconsin on April 2.

Instead of a prediction, here – aside from the players in today’s lineups for both the Rattlers and the Manatees – are the players who played games as Timber Rattlers over the last few days:

IF Greg Hopkins
P Andrew Moye
P Andrew Gagnon
P David Goforth
P Seth Harvey
C Adam Weisenburger
P Kevin Shackelford
P Jacob Barnes
SS Yadiel Rivera
C Kevin Moscatel
P Manuel Ruiz
P Tommy Toledo
P Seth Lintz
P Mike Francisco
OF Chad Stang
P Connor Whalen
P Michael Strong
P Will West

Any of these players could be headed to the Midwest League this season.  There is also the possibility that players who did not see action with the Rattlers during spring may be on the roster for Opening Day.  We will know in just over a week.

If you have enjoyed these reports, thank the Rattlers front office for sending me down here.  This is my third spring in a row covering the minor league side of the Brewers camp to give you an idea of the part of the Cactus League that you don’t see.

Opening Day for the Rattlers is on April 5.  Tickets for Opening Day against the Kernels and for the rest of the games at Time Warner Cable Field are available.  You can purchase tickets online; in person at the Time Warner Cable Field Box Office, or over the phone – (920) 733-4152 or 800-WI-TIMBER.  Mention that you got the idea from Mehring on Rattler Radio.  That may actually prove to them that I am capable of pulling my weight up there.  (kidding).

I will leave you with an overall impression on the play that I have seen over the last few days.  The pitching has been solid. All of the pitchers I saw threw strikes, worked quickly, and did not allow any big innings.

The hitters have stung the ball and the defense has been very good.

I know, 80 degrees in Arizona sunshine is a lot different from 45 on a rainy night in the Midwest League.  But, you will like what you will see when you come out to see the Timber Rattlers this season.

PLAY BALL!

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