Timber Rattlers Training Camp Notes – Day 1

Photos at the top.  Game recap in the middle.  Quotes from Matt Erickson at the end.  More on Timber Rattlers website.

Practice started out on Field Six of the Maryvale Baseball Complex with a meeting:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 001
and moved to stretching.

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 002on to a bullpen session

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 004then, rundowns

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on to defensive drills:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 007and on to Batting Practice:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 009

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 010
After a lunch break there was a game on Diamond #7.

The Timber Rattlers Starting Lineup:
Johnny Davis – CF
Nathan Orf – 2B
Taylor Brennan – 3B
David Denson – 1B
Clint Coulter – DH
Charlie Markson – RF
Jose Pena – LF
Dustin Houle – C
Steven Halcomb – SS

Starting Pitcher: Tristan Archer

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lost to the Dayton Dragons on Friday afternoon by a score of 8-2.  Dayton jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and – by my count – the Rattlers were held to three hits.  (Note: Johnny Davis could have been given a hit by a homer official scorer on a tough hop right at the second baseman in the first.)

I’ve gone back and forth on how to do this report and I thought that this  was where I was going to put the .mp3 of postgame interview I did with Matt Erickson.  BUT, I don’t quite have the hang of this new recorder…So, I transcribed his answers about some of the players in the game….Which took a lot of time.  WOW.

So, a brief recap of the game with some photos.  Then, Matt on some of the players AND why today was a big day in the Erickson house back in Appleton.

Tristan Archer.

Tristan Archer.

Dayton scored three runs off starting pitcher Tristan Archer (21st round, Tennessee Tech) in the first inning.  The leadoff batter had a double that looked foul, but it wasn’t worth the argument in March.  The next batter blooped in a triple down the line in right.  The third batter had a sacrifice fly.  The clean-up hitter – Aristides Aquino (#24 Prospect in Reds Organization) – followed with a home run.  Aristides Aquino is tall:



The Rattlers loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning but could not score against Nick Travieso (Reds #8 Prospect).  Dayton added a run in the second on a lead-off triple and the Rattlers being unable to turn two to get out of the frame on a slow grounder to short.

The Rattlers did get a run – without a hit – in the third.  Travieso hit Nathan Orf, walked David Denson, and walked Clint Coulter to load the bases with one out.  Charlie Markson drove in Orf with a sacrifice fly to right.

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 017

Chris Razo, who came out of the bullpen in the top of the third to escape a jam, pitched a scoreless fourth, but allowed two runs on a bunt single, a double, and a bloop double by Aquino.

Devin Williams got into the game in the top of the sixth for the Rattlers:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 020He allowed an unearned run over one inning of work with one hits, no walks, and no strikeouts.

The Rattlers got back on the scoreboard against a pitcher by the name of Austin Muehring…not related…

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 023

Omar Garcia walked, went from first to third on a single by Francisco Castillo, and scored on a wild pitch by Muehring.

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 024
The Dragons added one more run in the top of the ninth as a runner from third scored as the Rattlers were unable to turn an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.  I tried to get a photo of the high leg kick of Rattler pitcher Scott Lieser, but…I couldn’t time it right.

After the game, there was another meeting:

March 21 2014 Timber Rattlers Spring Training 030

And after the meeting I talked with Matt Erickson.  The first part of our conversation were about the camp so far, what kind of team the Rattlers will be, and a few of the players who may be in Wisconsin  if not at the start of the season – at some point during the season.  Those quotes can be found in this story on the Timber Rattlers website.

The second part of our conversation turned to the game against the Dragons and certain players.

Erickson on the game: Today [Dayton] swung the bats really well.  They not only put the ball on the barrel, they bled us to death…Usually you can survive one or the other, but not both.  So they did a nice job with the bats.

Our pitching has been pretty solid for the most part of keeping us in ballgames and getting us ground balls.  But, today [Dayton] found a lot of barrels.

Erickson on Tristan Archer (2.2IP, 5H, 4R, 2BB, 0K):  Tough first inning.  Right off the bat there was a ball hit down the left field line that may have been foul…who knows?…The he got a blooper down the right field line and before you know it it’s 1-0.  Then, I thought he threw a pretty good breaking ball to their clean-up hitter…the ball was down in the zone, but [Aquino] put a good swing on it and hit it out of the ballpark.  So, [Archer] was down 3-0 before you knew it.  But, he did a nice job of continuing to compete on the mound and going after hitters and making them swing the bat…I thought he did a nice job of keeping his composure and trying to continue to command the strike zone.

Erickson on Devin Williams (IP, H, R, 0ER, 0BB, 0K): I’ve only seen him one other time.  He’s been jumping around from group to group.  But, he’s an athletic body.  When we do our PFPs in the morning, he bounces off the mound.  He’s got a loose body, a nice arm, and the ball comes out nice.  I think he’s learning right now to try to create more tilt to his fastball so he can command the bottom of the zone.

The other day he did a nice job of getting ahead and what I liked was that his missed were down – not up – in the zone.  If he can – at an early age – consistently get that tilt to his pitches, I think he’ll be alright.

He’s one of the guys we’ve been talking about, but I’m not sure if he’ll be on that [Timber Rattlers] Opening Day Roster or not.

Erickson on Taylor Brennan (0-for3, BB, K):  He had a nice day.  He’s a guy who – last year – was a defensive project.  He’s got big time power in his bat and he’s cleaned up some of his batting practice of being able to hit the ball to all fields and not just swinging as hard as he can.  He’s working on his hitting ability and not just his power.  I thought he did a nice job of that today.

Some of his earlier at bats, I thought he took some out of control swings in hitter’s counts.  But he was able to cut it down and drove two balls to both gaps in the game today.  He showed some good glove work on a backhand and a diving play.  He is somebody we’re excited about and hopefully we get more chances to look at him in Appleton.

Erickson on Clint Coulter (0-for-2, BB, K): I talked to him a few days ago in the dugout and – just in conversation – he was letting me know how much more comfortable he feels.  Not only physically in his lower half, but also just going through a spring training once before and having a better idea of what it’s all about.

Everything was really new to the young man last year and he’s admitted that it was really fast and he wasn’t sure what to expect.  I think right now he is slowing it down a little bit and he’s got a ways to go – there’s not doubt about it, but I think about four days ago he had seven innings behind the plate and I looked over at [Trainer Jeff Paxson] and I said, “Hey! That’s the best I’ve seen him catch in a year and a half.”  So there’s some definite improvement to what he’s doing.

He’s a tough kid, a strong kid, and he’s going to get more chances.

Erickson on Jose Pena (2-for-3):  He’s a guy – the last couple of years – who has shown some power in Helena and down here in Arizona.  I’m pretty sure we’re going to get a look at him in Appleton this year.  He’s probably earned that opportunity with some of the offensive numbers that he’s put up.

He’s a guy that we are trying to get him better in the outfield as far as his lower half and his athletic ability out there.  But, he’s got an absolute cannon for an arm.  So, I think he can probably play either [right or left].  We have him projected in left field right now, but if there’s a need in right field he definitely has the arm to do that as well.

Erickson on MERCER vs. DUKE:  Go Bears!  When [the bracket] came out, I sent [my wife Julie ] a text and I said, “Hey! Mercer’s in the tournament!  Unfortunately, they got Duke in the first round”. {NOTE: Julie is a graduate of Mercer}

We talked about it over the last few days and she was all gung-ho.  Yesterday she said that she picked Mercer in the pool…She’s putting Mercer shirts on the kids and she was locked in today all day during the game.

We were getting updates through Pax.  Then, we were getting updates through our training room.  Charlie Greene, our field coordinator, is a die-hard Duke fan and – unfortunately – this morning I came in and said, “I think the Mercer Bears are gonna get ’em.”…Not really believing it>

But, that’s what ‘s awesome about sports.  That’s why we play the games.

I texted back to my wife and said, “Make sure you use that as a teaching moment for our son.”

Nobody in the world thought that Mercer had a chance except – obviously – Mercer.  It’s a great win for that program and my wife and here alumni friends are pretty excited.

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