Results tagged ‘ Mehring in Arizona ’

Mehring in Arizona, 2013 – Day 5

A tough game against some Reds prospects and some final thoughts after five days in the desert.

The squad of Rattlers were allowed a late start on Monday.  They didn’t have to be on the field until 11:30 and they did their work before the 1:00pm game.

The weather was great down here!

The weather was great down here!

The Timber Rattlers were playing the Dayton Dragons today on Diamond #7 at the Maryvale complex.  The Dragons are the Midwest League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.  The Reds are like the Brewers in one regard when it comes to their minor league players.  That would be that they put the names of all of their players on the backs of the jerseys.

So, unlike the last few days of games in Maryvale, I got to look up players from the other team to see if there are any prospects for them.  Dayton sent lefty Ismael Guillon, the Reds #9 prospect, to the mound to start the game.  Position players Jesse Winker (#7), Jeff Gelalich (#14), and Seth Mejias-Brean (#19) were in the lineup for the Dragons today.

The Rattlers had Tyrone Taylor (#15) in the starting lineup.  Clint Coulter (#9) and Orlando Arcia (#17) got into the game later as substitutes.

Here was the starting lineup for the Rattlers:

Tyrone Taylor – cf
Michael Reed – lf
Mike Garza – 3b
Adam Giacalone – 1b
Parker Berberet – dh
Jose Pena – rf
Brent Dean – c
Angel Ortega – ss
Alfredo Rodriguez – 3b

Starting Pitcher: Tyler Wagner

Tyler Wagner takes the hill.

Tyler Wagner takes the hill.

The game started with back-to-back extra base hits for a Dayton run.  Later in the inning, Meijas-Brean singled in a run for a 2-0 Dayton lead.

Wagner pitched well in the second inning, but an error, a wild pitch, another error, and a wild pitch in the stretch of three batters allowed another run to score for Dayton.

The Rattlers had very little success against Guillon while he worked his four innings.  Garza singled with two outs in the first.  They loaded the bases with no outs in the third after a single by Ortega, a hit batsman to Rodriguez, and a walk to Taylor.  But, the next batter popped out and the next batter grounded into an inning ending double play.  Pena doubled with two outs in the fourth.
Spring Training 2013 Day 5 005

Baseball America notes that Guillon’s best pitch is his changeup and that – due to an injury and the need to rework his contract after an injury shortly after signing with the Reds – he is on the Reds 40-man roster.

Reds prospect Ismael Guillon

Reds prospect Ismael Guillon

Meanwhile, Wagner also tossed four innings.  He gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk, a hit batsman, a wild pitch, and a pair of strikeouts.  Wagner, a fourth round pick in 2012, was a closer at the University of Utah.  But he was a starting pitcher for Helena in the Pioneer League after signing with the Brewers.  He appeared in 13 games (12 starts) in the Pioneer League and went 1-4*, but had a K:BB ratio of 47:22 in 48.2IP.

Leonard Lorenzo took over for Wagner in the top of the fifth inning and worked scoreless innings in the first two of his scheduled three innings.

Leonard Lorenzo makes his pitch.

Leonard Lorenzo makes his pitch.

But, he ran into trouble in the seventh as a single and an error put a runner on second base.  Another single drove in a run for the Dragons.  A two-out RBI double by Winker made it 5-0 in favor Dayton.

The Rattlers offense never threatened after they loaded the bases in the second inning.  No Rattler went past first base after the fourth inning.  They only managed one hit, a sixth inning single by Garza.

Dayton poured on the offense in the eighth inning against Zach Quintana.  There were back-to-back RBI triples and an RBI single out of five hits in the frame and the Dragons were up 8-0.

Rattlers of interest:
Garza was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles
Taylor went 0-for-2 with two walks
Michael Reed went 0-for-3
Orlando Arcia was 0-for-1
Clint Coulter went 0-for-1

Not the greatest day at the ballpark, but a bad day at a baseball game beats a good day most other places.

And now a few words from the Timber Rattlers.

13 Days of Baseball will be happening from March 27 to April 8.  Click the link for details on the prizes that are being given away by the Timber Rattlers.  They range from a full set of 2012 Opening Day Bobbleheads to a chance to shoot the Bratzook! during a game this season.

Tickets for Individual Games during the 2013 season are on sale right now.  Click here to order tickets for Opening Night or any of the 70 regular season home games scheduled this season.

The Timber Rattlers send me down here to A.) Get me away from the people that actually work for a living at this time of year and B.) To get a handle on what is heading north for the season.

Let’s take a look back at what I wrote last year on my final day in AZ before the Championship season of 2012 began:

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.

This year, the pitchers fell behind in counts and did not avoid big innings.  Defense was not as good as last season.  The hitters did get shutout on Monday, but they hit the ball hard during camp and have scored plenty of runs this spring.

That is where they were at in the small sample size of games that I saw.  That is not where they will be in two weeks, two months, or even at the end of the season.

Matt Erickson is back as the manager.  Dusty Rhodes is the hitting coach again.  David Chavarria is the pitching coach again.  That staff did an outstanding job with the players in 2012.  That staff will work with this year’s squad and you will see them get better as the season progresses from game #1 to game #140.

As to predictions for the roster, I don’t usually make those.  But, I think that you will see catcher Clint Coulter and outfielders, Victor Roache, Michael Reed, and Tyrone Taylor.

I’d like to be able to make a guess on the pitching staff, but there is still a lot to be decided in the final week of camp.  Especially after the signing of Kyle Lohse on Monday. Things that happen at that level can affect what happens down in the lower levels of the minor league system.

Minor league camp breaks on April 1.  We won’t know who will be on the plane until sometime that morning.  But, it is going to be a fun season….especially once we get rid of that cursed snow on the field.

PLAY BALL!

*-Your grain of salt to go with individual Win-Loss Record

Mehring in Arizona, 2013 Archive:
Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

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

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.

This is all part of a base running drill.

This is all part of a base running drill.

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.

Rundowns, too.

Rundowns, too.

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.

The annual pitcher covering first photo on the blog goes to Brent Suter.

The annual pitcher covering first photo on the blog goes to Brent Suter.

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.

Eric Semmelhack makes a throw to second during a drill.

Eric Semmelhack makes a throw to second during a drill.

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.

Rafael Neda gives a thumbs up to the first half of the column.

Rafael Neda gives a thumbs up to the first half of the column.

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.

Michael Reed scores in the bottom of the first for the Rattlers.

Michael Reed scores in the bottom of the first for the Rattlers.

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.

Danny Keller with the pitch.

Danny Keller with the pitch.

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.

And special guest star Martin Maldonado.

And special guest star Martin Maldonado.   He singled later in this at bat.

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.

Mehring in Arizona, 2013 Archive:
Day 1
Day 2

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

Mehring in Arizona, 2013 – Day 1

Big news on the Championship Ring presentation and some tidbits from my first day at Spring Training.

My God! Everything is so bright! And GREEN!  AND BLUE!

My God! Everything is so bright! And GREEN! AND BLUE!

The big news that was confirmed today is this:  The 2012 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers who are in camp will receive their Midwest League Championship Rings in a pre-game ceremony before the Brewers host the Chicago Cubs in a Cactus League game on Friday, March 22 at Maryvale Baseball Park.  The ceremony should start right around 12:30pm.

Then, the Rattlers will head to the outer diamonds to play their spring training games.

There will be pictures from the ceremony some time tomorrow.  We are also efforting to get some video, too.  When we have it, you’ll see it.

To the game!

I arrived at the complex just in time to catch Marquette’s great escape against Davidson as I picked up my media credential.

It was the the bottom of the sixth by the time I got to the diamond where Matt Erickson’s team was taking on the Lake County Captains.  The first person I saw was pitching coach David Chavarria.  He immediately asked me who I wanted to start opening day.  I asked him if he was ready because I told him that he was starting in Peoria on April 4 and again for the home opener on April 8.

Here was the lineup that Matt Erickson used today:
Tyrone Taylor – cf
Orlando Arcia – ss
Jose Sermo – 3b
Clint Coulter – c
Adam Giacalone – dh
Mike Garza – 1b
Alfredo Rodriguez – 2b
Jose Pena – rf
Michael Reed – lf

During the game: Paul Eshleman replaced Coulter and Chris McFarland replaced Giacalone

The pitchers for the Rattlers today were:
Anthony Banda (L)
Preston Gainey (R)
Taylor Wall (L)
Jorge Ortega (R)

If I reconstruct things correctly The Rattlers were down 8-1 to the Captains with two outs in the seventh inning.  Mike Garza was at the plate.

Mike Garza was the only 2012 Timber Rattler playing with the team on Thursday.

Mike Garza was the only 2012 Timber Rattler playing with the team on Thursday.

Garza singled later in the at bat.  Rodriguez also singled.  Then, Tyrone Taylor hit a ball that cleared the left fielder’s head.  The ball bounced on the warning track and over the wall for a ground rule double.  Garza scored on the play.

He would hit that double later in the at bat.

He would hit that double later in the at bat.

Garza cruised home after the ground rule double.

Garza cruised home after the ground rule double.

But, the inning also ended on the play.  For those unfamiliar with minor league games in Spring Training, the coaches for each team can ask to end an inning early (AKA: Roll it).  Coaches can also ask for an inning to be extended.  Remember, it’s all about getting the work in at this time of the year.

In the eighth, Orlando Arcia hit a double to right- his opposite field – over the head of the outfielder.  Jose Sermo singled to drive in Arcia.  Then, Paul Eshleman hit a home run to left.  Click on any of the last three pictures to enlarge them.  Look at the lighter netting above the dark green on the outfield wall.  Eshleman cleared the green by a good margin.  That made the score 8-5.

But, in the top of the ninth, Lake County got a couple of runs against Jorge Ortega.

Jorge Ortega hurls one to the plate on Thursday afternoon.

Jorge Ortega hurls one to the plate on Thursday afternoon.

An error by Arcia let a runner on with one out.  The ball was a routine grounder to short that Arcia let go through his legs.

I happened to be watching that part of the game with hitting coach Dusty Rhodes.  Dusty told me not to worry about that play.  Arcia has been outstanding on defense this spring.  He also told me to look up a play of Arcia’s that he made in a big league game that wound up on SportsCenter….

AND it was called by Vin Scully! So what if he said “grobbled it up” and call Arcia “Arias” at first. It’s probably going to happen a time or two with the Timber Rattlers radio announcer this season.  It’s still sweet!

Baseball America rates Arcia as the #17 prospect in the Milwauee Brewers organization.  He had a nice season with Milwaukee’s team in the Dominican Summer league in 2011.  But, he suffered an injury – broken ankle – during extended spring training in 2012 and missed the whole season.  According to the Prospect Handbook:

The break was so severe that doctors inserted a metal plate to repair it.  Arcia, whose older brother Orlando is a top prospect in the Twins system, recovered in time to participate in instructional league and got more action over the winter at the Brewers’ Dominican academy.

Dusty said that Arcia is going to be fun to watch this season.  That’s good enough for me.

Busy day tomorrow.  Note that all times in this paragraph are Arizona times.  Add two hours for the time back in Appleton.  Practice at the complex starts on the outer diamonds at 9:30am.  The ring ceremony at the big league stadium at 12:30pm.  Minor league game against Great Lakes back on the outer diamonds at 1pm.

I will be tweeting updates during the day.  Follow @CMehring for those updates.

I thought about starting this post with the travel notes and horror stories on my trip from Appleton to Detroit to Phoenix.  But, I’m not Peter King.  And I didn’t have any problems.

It was smooth sailing, er, flying.  How smooth? My bag dropped down the baggage carousel just as I got to the baggage claim area.  That was outstanding.  Wait. Maybe, I am Peter King.  I guess this is a good place to stop today.

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