Fun in the Sun

My first official day in Spring Training took me to Lee County, home of the Minnesota Twins and their minor league facility.  While the Twins were hosting a big league exhibition game against Baltimore, the minor league complex featured two spring training games.  On field 2, Pawtucket battled Rochester and field 3 featured Portland and New Britain.  Now, while the AA and AAA teams are playing at the Twins complex, the Red Sox camp will host games between the A affiliates.

It’s always nice to take a long stroll from the parking area to the Twins minor league field. and check out the sites. Minnesota has a beautiful complex and names each street on the complex road after famous Twins players.  In my passing, I saw these street names: Kaat, Killebrew, Oliva, Kelly (after Tom Kelly, the longest tenured manager in Twins’ history), Hrbek and Puckett.

Now to my surprise, it was a little windy today but I’m not complaining.  I was just so surprised to see how cold the players were.  Many back east are ready to kill me when they read that but don’t shoot the messenger.

The million dollar question during spring training – Who will make the Sea Dogs roster?  My two-cent answer, there’s still a lot that could happen.  It’s very tough to predict who will be where with so many great players in camp.  I was very confused on what team I was watching when the the lineup card behind Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler said Pawtucket.  PawSox manager Ron Johnson was not with the club, probably with Boston at their complex but don’t quote me on that.

In the Pawtucket game, Arnie, Mike Cather and Dave Joppie were coaching this squad: Aaron Bates, Mark Wagner, Ryan Khoury, Iggy Suarez, Zach Borowiak (he’s back), Jeff Corsaletti, Zach Daeges, Jeff Corsaletti, Bubba Bell, Jeff Natale, Jay Johnson, Hunter Jones, Chad Rhoades, Richie Lentz, Marcus McBeth, Billy Traber, Sandy Madera and I know I’m leaving out a few. 

I stood in between both fields, which area about 100 feet apart and took in both contests.  Josh Reddick and Lars Anderson played in the Portland game.  It was nice watching Anderson close up.  During an at-bat late in the game, Anderson quickly got behind but clobbered a solo-homer to left-field.  Many scouts have said he has tremendous opposite field power and they are right.  Josh Papelbon, who pitches submarine style, closed out the win with a scoreless ninth.  I didn’t get the score of the Portland game but Pawtucket lost 12-4.

Observations from the games
Gary Gaetti’s son Jon, played right field for Rochester and blasted a home run but made a tremendous catch off a deep fly bal hit by Mark Wagner.

Billy Traber and Marcus McBeth worked scoreless innings for Pawtucket.  McBeth is a converted pitcher and once played for Sea Dogs’ hitting coach Dave Joppie in the minor leagues.  I saw McBeth play center field in 2003 for the Kane County Cougars.  To this day, he has made the most impressive throw to the plate that I have ever witnessed.  Maybe he will remember that if I ask him.

Zach Daeges looked like his usual self at the plate, roping a single in the 6th inning.  Daeges played some 1B in both games.  Many players rotated from game to game.

It was really nice to see Bubba Bell and Jay Johnson.  Both guys missed a lot of time last year due to injury but they are very excited with the upcoming season.

Zach Borowiak told me he is so excited to be back playing minor league baseball.  Borowiak retired last year and did not play.  He finished up school and taught lessons at a Baseball Academy.

I did notice the umpiring was a bit rough.  Many players weren’t happy with the strike zone but it is Spring Training.

The best thing about Spring Training is reconnecting with the players from last season and catching up with guys who played in Portland.  I did feel out of place since I was the only one in the area without a tan – but what can you do? 

That’s a wrap from Fort Myers.  Tomorrow I will venture to the minor league complex in the morning and catch up Portland’s trainer from the past two seasons, Brad Pearson, who is the now holding a real cool position.  


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