Mehring in Arizona, 2013 – Day 2

There was a practice in the morning and a game in the afternoon. But, the lunch break was the big news. So, we’ll lead with that okay? The 2012 Rattlers get their rings….and some other stuff happened, too.

Timber Rattlers president Rob Zerjav congratulates manager Matt Erickson during Friday's championship ring presentation as Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke watch.

Timber Rattlers president Rob Zerjav congratulates manager Matt Erickson during Friday’s championship ring presentation as Doug Melvin and Ron Roenicke watch.  Cooper Zerjav holds on to the box with Erickson’s ring.

Rafael Neda is about to receive his ring.

Rafael Neda is about to receive his ring.

More congratulations.

More congratulations.

I wish that I had taken this next picture with my camera instead of my phone.  It turned out well…It could have been better.  But, still, a nice father-son moment.

Ron Roenicke congratulates Lance Roenicke during the ceremony.

Ron Roenicke congratulates Lance Roenicke during the ceremony.

Look at … well… most of them.  There are more to the right of the photo.  Oh, and the guy in the white uniform is Yadiel Rivera who was on the big league roster on Friday.

All of them are champions.

All of them are champions.

Greg Hopkins was nice enough to let me take a picture of his ring.

Look at that thing! It's awesome!

Look at that thing! It’s awesome!

Chad Thompson had this message on twitter after the ceremony.

Thank you, Chad. It was great to see all of the players from last year and think back on a terrific run by a great group of players who also happen to be a terrific group of guys. MLB.com has this video with words from the manager:

Ten minutes later I was over on Diamond #7 on the minor league side of the complex. Matt Erickson got there about the same time. He looked around and said, “Time to turn the page.”

He’s right….give me a moment……

….one more…

*SIGH*

Earlier in the day, I watched the 2013 Timber Rattlers start their practice with the usual drills and batting practice.

Batting practice at 10:15 in the morning.

Batting practice at 10:15 in the morning.

I was catching up with trainer Jeff Paxson, meeting Nashville hitting coach Al LeBoeuf, and chatting with Nashville radio announcer Jeff Hem during batting practice.

But, I did get to see a little bit of Victor Roache, Michael Reed, and Tyrone Taylor’s session. It was – in traditional Mehring understatement – a good session. There was a break for lunch and the ceremony. Then, the game against the Great Lakes Loons was ready to start at 1:00pm.

The game got started at 1:20. There were no game baseballs at the field.

The game eventually started and this was the lineup that Matt Erickson ran out there today:
Michael Reed – cf
Chris McFarland – 2b
Mike Garza – 3b
Adam Giacalone – 1b
Clint Coulter – dh
Jose Pena – rf
Lance Roenicke – lf
Joe Andrade – c
Angel Ortega – ss

Starting Pitcher: Jorge Lopez

The first batter of the game doubled. The second batter of the game had a poor sacrifice bunt and Andrade pounced on it. He made a throw to third that beat the runner and Garza dropped the tag on the runner and….SAFE!?!?!!…was the call.

Lopez, who is rated as the #23 prospect in the Brewers organization, gave up a triple and a single to the next two batters and the Rattlers were down 3-0. He did rebound to strike out the next two batters and eventually got out of the inning without allowing another run.

According to Baseball America Lopez “works around 90-91mph with his fastball, but should throw harder as he gets stronger. He has a good feel for a breaking ball and uses it as a strikeout pitch when ahead in the count.” Additionally, Lopez just turned 20 about a month ago. Plenty of room to grow for him.

Jorge Lopez on the mound in Maryvale.

Jorge Lopez on the mound in Maryvale.

The bottom of the first was a rough inning for the Rattlers offense against the Loons starter. Reed and McFarland walked and Garza blooped in a base hit just out of the reach of the second baseman to load the bases. A strikeout followed. Then, Coulter forced in a run with a walk. But, the next two batters struck out to end the threat. Rattlers hitting coach Dusty Rhodes brought this situation up after the game which was over three hours later.

Reed walked again in the second inning and McFarland tripled him in to make it 3-2. But, Lopez gave up four runs in the top of the third.

The final run scored on one of THOSE plays that you think you’ll never see. Fortunately, both Garza and Lopez kept their heads in the play to get an out. The Loons hitter hit the ball to right to score a runner from second. The batter tried to stretch the play into a double. The throw from Pena skipped by Ortega into shallow left-center. Garza went after the ball because no one else was close enough to get it. The runner saw third base unguarded and took of for third. Lopez raced to third to cover the bag and Garza threw a strike to get him for the 9-6-5-1 putout at third base.

Lopez wrapped up day with this line: 3IP, 6H, 7R, 5ER, 4BB, 2K.  He spent a lot of time behind in counts.

Wisconsin got single runs in the third and fourth innings.  An RBI fielder’s choice by Andrade scored Coulter in the third.  Garza launched a homer to left in the fourth.

Damien Magnifico gave up a run in the top of the fourth inning.  A  two out walk and back-to-back singles drove in that Loons run.  But, the sound the ball made the first time it popped into Andrade’s glove was something else. Magnifico is not rated in the Top 30 Brewers prospects by Baseball America.  But, they did mention he has the best fastball of the pitcher Milwaukee took in the 2012 draft.  Magnifico, a 5th round pick out of Oklahoma, “hits 100 mph as regularly as anyone in the 2012 draft, but he gets hit because the pitch lacks life and command.

Damien Magnifico takes his turn on the hill.

Damien Magnifico takes his turn on the hill.

The Rattlers showed a little defense in the fifth inning.  The leadoff batter tripled to right-center and the throw into the cutoff man got away…way away.  The batter tried to go for the plate.  Fortunately, Giacalone tracked down the ball and recorded a 9-4-3-2 out at the plate.  Then, Ortega made a thrilling charge/barehand pick/throw on the run to first play to get the next batter.

I think my favorite non-ceremony moment of the day happened in the bottom of the fifth and it didn’t happen on the field.

Matt Erickson: Always on.

Matt Erickson: Always on.

Angel Ortega was due up second in the bottom of the fifth.  Before Erickson headed out to coach third for the inning, he pulled Ortega aside and gave him these directions.  “Line Drive. Circle the bases. Score a run. Get a drink of water.”

Ortega proceeded to:
Line a double to left
Go to third on a fly ball to right
Score on a single by Garza
Get a drink of water

THAT’S why Matt Erickson is the best!

But even the best can have their patience tested.  Erickson had his patience tried in the top of the sixth as Magnifico went 3-0 to the first two batters he face only to come back to get the count to 3-2 before retiring those hitters.  Then, the next two hitters reached on singles.  Magnifico got the final out with no runs scoring.

Magnifico’s Line: 3IP, 5H, R, ER, 3BB, K

The Rattlers loaded the bases again in their half of the sixth inning as Coulter and Pena singled.  Roenicke got hit by a pitch for the second time in the game.  Andrade hit a sacrifice fly to drive in one run.  Orlando Arcia, who entered the game in the top of the sixth to replace Ortega, knocked in a run with a fielder’s choice and the Rattlers were down a run (8-7).

Arcia knocks in a run.

Arcia knocks in a run.

The Loons got the final run in the eighth off Eric Otterman. The Rattlers did not score again in the game and the final was Great Lakes 9, Timber Rattlers 7. But, the day wasn’t over yet. Erickson had his usual post-game talk with the team down the right field line.

The teaching never stops.

The teaching never stops.

Spring Training is exactly about this.  Let the players play. Talk about what went wrong.  Work on fixing what went wrong. 

Do that enough and you get to have another ring ceremony in 2014.

Some notes from the game:

Clint Coulter drew a pair of walks, singled twice and struck out one time. Coulter, the Brewers first pick in the 2012 draft, is 19. Baseball America ranks him #9 in the Brewers organization and mentions that he “has considerable offensive upside“.

Arcia, the #17 prospect in the organization, made a play in the top of the ninth that topped Ortega’s play in the top of the fifth. Arcia went deep in the hole at short to get to the ball on a backhand. Then, he stopped, leapt, turned, and threw a strike to first to nip the runner by a step-and-a-half. Arcia is 18 years-old.

Four Rattlers were hit by pitches in the game. Roenicke (Twice), Andrade, and McFarland. Ouch.

A note from the Brewers Cactus League Game:
Khris Davis homered. Again.

Tomorrow:
The Rattlers are on the field again at 9:30am.  In the afternoon, there is a game against the Angels Midwest League team…and it is going to be really difficult to call them the Burlington Bees instead of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.  That change is going to really mess up a lot of people this year.

Mehring in Arizona, 2013 Archives:
Day 1

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