Mehring in Arizona, 2013 – Day 4

Four diamonds, no waiting.

It was a quick day for the Brewers minor league, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot happening on Sunday.  The players were on the field at 10:30, but they were not grouped as the minor league affiliates.  Instead, they were set up as four work groups…One for each of the four diamonds on the minor league side.

Two baseball diamonds on the left.  Two baseball diamonds on the right.  One tower in the middle to keep an eye on all of the action.

Two baseball diamonds on the left. Two baseball diamonds on the right. One tower in the middle to keep an eye on all of the action.

There were two groups of 30 – both with 14 pitchers and 16 position players, one group of 32 – 17 pitchers and 15 position players, and one group of 31 – 15 pitchers and 16 position players.

As always, stretching & conditioning started the day. The throwing program was second on the list of tasks.

I got a chance to talk with Don Money while the players were getting loose for the day.  Money will be the special guest at Timber Rattlers Leadoff Experience, 2013.  If I can just take a moment for a word from my sponsor….

The 2013 Leadoff Experience will be held at Liberty Hall in Kimberly on Wednesday, April 3.  Click here for details on how to order tickets for a night that includes autographs from the players, dinner, an interactive Q & A session with the 2013 Timber Rattlers players and coaches, and special guest Don Money.

If my 15 minute talk with Don is anything to base what April 3 will be like, you are in for a treat.

Back to the column…

Then, there was batting practice. But, not just batting practice. There was also bunting practice.

Make a competition out of learning how to bunt.

Make a competition out of learning how to bunt.

First, there are the lines radiating out from the plate area where the player is set up to bunt.  Then, there are lines that go out – towards “fair territory” that are equally spaced up each line.  Do you see the ‘3’  in the space where the players on standing?  There is a “2” and a “1” as you get farther from the plate area.

The bunter must keep the ball fair and get it to stop within one of the sections.  AND the bunt must go to the proper side based on the situation.  Runner on first with no outs: Get it down on the first base side.  Runners on first and second with no outs: Get it down on the third base side.  Simple and it moves fast…Like Shuffleboard except the puck is coming right at you instead of sitting still and waiting for you to push it…..So, nothing at all like shuffleboard….But, you get the idea.

Mitch Haniger takes some cuts on Diamond #5

Mitch Haniger takes some cuts on Diamond #5

That’s Mitch Haniger taking a few cuts on Diamond #5 this morning.  It sounded like he struggled a bit early in camp.  But after some video study he started to hit the ball extremely well.  That’s great to hear.

Players were moving back-and-forth between the bunting station and diamonds during this part of the morning and I was fortunate enough to talk with a few former Timber Rattlers while they had a few seconds.  TJ Mittelstaedt and Brandon Macias were on their way to catch the bus to Peoria for the split squad game against the Padres, but both stopped to say hello and ask about the weather and the renovations at the ballpark.

Tyler Cravy mentioned that he spent the offseason working out and working construction with his grandfather.  Mike Strong walked by to say hello, too.

Mike Walker and Jason Rogers walked over to the fence during their batting practice round on Diamond #7.  Walker thinks that he is just now getting back into a normal sleep pattern after playing for Australia on “the other side of the world” during the World Baseball Classic.  Somehow I don’t think anyone is going to feel sorry for me when I get back to the central time zone and have a bit of trouble readjusting from being two hours behind them for five days.

Setting up the sliding pads for drills.

Setting up the sliding pads for drills.

I supposed this is going to take a little bit of a set up to explain.  The three black mats that are set up in the outfield of Diamond #4 are sliding pads.  You can’t have the players slide on the grass because you tear up the outfield that way.  Can’t slide on the dirt because there is plenty of wear and tear on lots of things when that happens.  So, set up these special sliding pads in the outfield.  Plus, make it a race.

Start out at “home”.  Run to and slide into “first”. Recover. Head for “second”. Slide. Recover. Head for “third”. Recover. Head for home.  Total time around the bases was between 14 and 15.5 seconds for each player.

Chris McFarland slides into "second".

Chris McFarland slides into “second”.

Tyrone Taylor slides into "third".

Tyrone Taylor slides into “third”.

Another word from my sponsor/employer:

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers were named the 2012 Small Business of the Year for the Fox Valley by The Appleton Post-Crescent.  It’s kind of a big deal.  We could not have done it without you.

Thank you, fans.

I was going over the game notes for the Brewers-Rockies game at the big league stadium before the start of the contest.  There is a list of the scheduled pitchers for the day and former Rattlers Hiram Burgos and Jim Henderson were on it.  There is also a list of players over from minor league came for the big league game.  Kyle Heckathorn, Mitch Haniger, Ben McMahan, Hunter Morris, Rafael Neda, Yadiel Rivera, Lance Roenicke, and Nick Shaw.

That’s when something relating to another former Rattler caught my eye and I needed photographic proof.  This guy decided to wear a White Sox T-shirt jersey to a Brewers-Rockies spring training game.

Matt Thornton's biggest fan!

Matt Thornton’s biggest fan!

In the game itself, Burgos got into a bases loaded jam in the fourth inning.  There was one out and the bases were loaded with Troy Tulowitzki at the plate.  Burgos got him to ground into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

There were several former Rattlers that contributed to Milwaukee’s five-run sixth inning.  

  • Roenicke entered as a pinch-runner and scored from second on an error.
  • Burgos reached on a sacrifice bunt attempt
  • Shaw blooped in a single with the bases loaded to drive in one run.
  • McMahan singled to drive in two more runs.
  • Shaw scored on a sacrifice fly.

That put the Rattlers up 7-2.

Some pictures of the ex-Rattlers in action in the Cactus League game on Sunday.

Hiram Burgos on the hill.

Hiram Burgos on the hill.

Lance Roenicke scores the go ahead run.

Lance Roenicke scores the go ahead run.

Nick Shaw at first after his RBI single.

Nick Shaw at first after his RBI single.

Ben McMahan heads to first after his two-run single.

Ben McMahan heads to first after his two-run single.

Yadiel Rivera in the field.

Yadiel Rivera in the field.

Mitch Haniger at the plate in the bottom of the 7th.

Mitch Haniger at the plate in the bottom of the 7th.

Hunter Morris at the plate right after Haniger.

Hunter Morris at the plate right after Haniger.


Burgos loaded the bases again in the top of the seventh.  A single and a double by the first two Rockies in the inning put runners on second and third with no outs.  Burgos got the next two batters in the inning, but issued a walk to load the bases for Tulowitzki again.  

Brandon Kintzler entered the game for Burgos and walked Tulowitzki to force in a run.  Kinzler would get the final out on a grounder to Yadiel Rivera at short to end the inning with the Brewers up 7-3.

Burgos finished the day with a line of: 3.2IP, 3H, R, 3BB, 2K and the win.

Jim Henderson worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

Jim Henderson with the save.

Jim Henderson with the save.

Other Rattlers Alumni on the day between the game against the Padres and the game against the Rockies:

vs. Rockies:
Shaw: 1-for-2, RBI, RUN
McMahan: 1-for-2, 2RBI
Rivera: 0-for-1
Lucroy: 1-for-4
Roenicke: pinch-runner, RUN
Haniger: 0-for-1
Morris: 0-for-1
Jim Henderson: IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, Save

@ Padres:
Wily Peralta: 5.1IP, 10H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, 4K, 2HR, Loss
Khris Davis: 0-for-4
Martin Maldonado: 1-for-4
Sean Halton: 1-for-4
Scooter Gennett: 1-for-4, RUN
Chadwin Stang: 0-for-1
Josh Prince: 0-for-1
TJ Mittelstaedt: 0-for-1

One more full day at camp and it sounds like a short one on the minor league side.  Late practice and a game on the minor league side of the complex.  Looking forward to my last glimpse of potential 2013 Timber Rattlers in Arizona.  After that, the next time will be when they are getting off the plane in Milwaukee on April 1.

That day can’t get here soon enough.

Mehring in Arizona, 2013 Archive:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

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