Mehring in Arizona, 2013 – Day 3
Fundamentals in the morning. Game in the afternoon. Dinner at night.
Another perfect day in Arizona began with the lots of fundamental work.
The photo above shows a base running drill for line drives. There is a runner on each base. There are fielders at each postion. Dusty Rhodes feeds a ball into the ponza machine and sends a line drive. The runners need to get a read on the line drive. Will it be caught? Will it hit the ground? Will it go through? There isn’t a lot of time to figure it out. But, they work on it here so they don’t have to think about it in a game against Kane County during the season.
Matt Erickson and David Chavarria keep a close eye on the rundowns. This drill was done without runners. But, this is helpful to the players doing the drill. Knowing when to throw the ball during a rundown is the most important part of that play.
Have you every listened to or watched a game and the pitcher messes up covering first base. Then, one of the announcers says, “They work on that play every day in Spring Training. Yes. They do work on it every day in Spring Training.
There were plenty more defensive drills: The infielders and pitchers worked on turning double plays. The outfielders were working on outfield stuff.
Then, the team took batting practice. I got to watch some of victor Roache’s cuts. A few of the coaches were, too. Someone mentioned something along the lines of “His muscles have muscles.” He has been held out of game action recently. But, should be back in action soon. Hopefully, you will see him in Wisconsin in a couple of weeks.
It was just before batting practice that Tyrone Taylor came over to the dugout. He got the call to make the trip to Mesa with the big league club to play the Angels in Cactus League action.
I was walking back to my car after the Timber Rattlers wrapped up their morning practice on Diamond #6. Brevard County was still working through batting practice on Diamond #5 and Rafael Neda called out, “Hey, Chris! How about a picture!”
Can’t turn down a request like that.
The opponent for the Timber Rattlers on Saturday afternoon was the team that will be the Burlington Bees, who are now an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Here was the starting lineup:
Michael Reed – RF
Orlando Arcia – SS
Chris McFarland – 1B
Clint Coulter – C
Michael Garza – 1B
Jose Sermo – CF
Elvis Rubio – LF
Tyler Roberts – DH
Alfredo Rodriguez – 3B
Starting Pitcher: Danny Keller
Keller threw strikes in the first inning. He allowed one hit, a bunt single, and struck out a pair.
Reed ledoff the bottom of the first with a sinking line drive to left. The left fielder misplayed the ball and the ball rolled all the way to the wall. I barely had enough time to turn on the camera and lineup the shot of Reed sliding in with a run for a 1-0 lead.
Obvious fact: Reed is fast.
Michael Reed is the son of Ben Reed, a 10th round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Mississippi in the 1986 draft. The elder Reed played three games in the NFL with the New England Patriots during the 1987. Michael was set to go to Mississippi, but signed with the Brewers after being drafted in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. Reed spent some time with Huntsville, Brevard County, and Helena in 2012. Looks like he will be in Appleton this year.
Keller was drafted one round after Reed in 2011. Keller was also a high school pick. He passed up college ball at Cal State Northridge to sign with the Brewers. Keller spent the last two years in the Arizona League and had a good afternoon with the Rattlers. He worked three scoreless innings, struck out four, walked one, and allowed two hits.
In the first inning, a call to the Rattlers dugout came through that Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado wanted to get a few at bats with the Timber Rattlers today. Maldonado is just back into camp after Puerto Rico’s run to the 2013 World Baseball Classic finals.
It’s spring training. So, he just jumped into the order in a spot. Maldonado singled off the glove of the third baseman in the second and struck out in the third in his only two at bats with the Rattlers.
The strikeout by Maldonado in the third inning was the final out, but the Rattlers had scored a couple of runs earlier in the frame. Tyler Roberts singled and Alfredo Rodriguez doubled to left. Reed got another chance to hit and singled to left to drive in a pair of runs. The throw home was poor and Reed took second. Then, he stole third. But, he would be stranded there when the inning ended.
Eduard Reyes came into the game in the top of the fourth inning. A two out passed ball on Clint Coulter let in one run. An RBI single drove in another.
I’m not sure if you know this but, the Angels love to bunt and they love to run at the minor league level. Reyes walked the leadoff batter in the fifth and a sacrifice bunt moved that runner to second. There were some YAWPS over the roofs of the world that would make Walt Whitman proud from the other dugout after that sac bunt.
Reyes would spoil the strategy by picking the runner off second base.
The AngelBees spoiled that feeling with three straight singles to score the tying run.
Martin Viramontes pitched in the sixth inning and gave up three runs on three hits, two walks, and another passed ball – this one on Roberts. He left with two outs after the second walk and the Rattlers went to left-handed reliever Taylor Wall.
Wall promptly picked off the runner for the final out.
“Just like I planned it!” said pitching coach David Chavarria.
I believe that.
Wall pitched a 1-2-3 seventh. Then, he gave up a leadoff single in the eighth. He picked off that runner, too. But, the umpire at first – it was a three umpire crew today – called “BALK!”
“NO WAY! HE WASN’T GOING TO THE PLATE!”
Of course that runner came around to score. The Angel/Bees led 7-3.
Wisconsin scored one more run in the bottom of the ninth. Tyler Roberts doubled with one out. Reed singled him home with two outs.
I was standing next to Reggie Williams, the Brewers minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator, during this part of the game. We had been talking about base running prior to the hit by Reed and brought this point up about how Reed read that play.
The throw in from the outfielder was low and could have been cutoff by an infielder. Williams mentioned that if the throw had been high, Reed would have gone for second base. Instead, he saw that the throw was low and by keeping his head up and being aware, held on at first base.
“I’m going to go mention that to some of my players right now,” said Williams. And off he went.
The game ended with a 7-4 Burlington victory over the Timber Rattlers.
In case you are just skimming this article or if you didn’t want to do any math, Michael Reed went 3-for-5 with three singles, three RBI, and a run scored.
Later in the evening, Rattler president took the field staff…yes, and the radio announcer…to dinner.
We talked a little bit about last year and a little bit about this year. Not so much about who is going to be on the team. There is still quite a bit up in the air depending on what happens at other levels in the system. This is all going to be coming together in the next few days. The minor league camp breaks on April 1.
Sunday is a quick workout day for the minor league side. Lots of defense with no game in the afternoon. Yep. Quick day with a lot to do.