Saturday, April 16, 2005

Sloppy Seconds

The Miracle's 6-0 start on the season proved they were good. The loss to Tampa proved they were human.

The three games series against the Dunedine Blue Jays is proving they've got some things to work on.

Thursday the Miracle managed only hit against the Blue Jays who took a 6-0 win.

Adam Harben

Steve Tyler took the start on the mound. Tyler, who is on the Twins 40-man roster, had wanted to start the season with the New Britain Rock Cats.

According to an interview on Will Young's Blog, he did want to play in Fort Myers. He went five innings allowing two runs on six hits, walking one and striking out four. Not exectly the kind of performance that's going to land him on the Rock Cats Roster fast.

Julio DePaula faired little better against the Dunedin bats through allowing two runs on four hits in three innings worth of work.

It's hard to pinout the collapse. Was the Dunedin pitching that good? Or were we back to the home excuse of they've been doing a lot of off-field work that Marzan trotted out frequently for yearly early season home losses.

Omar Burgos was getting some one-on-one instruction before the game on how to be a good hitter, but the tips that he picked up certainly didn't serve him well in the game. On the whole, it was hard to find a stellar spot in Thursday's performance.

Friday's was a little better, but Adam Harben struggled through three innings of ball allowing three run, (two earned) on four hits while walking four and fanning five. He certainly didn't a lot of help from the fielding either.

Brock Peterson was solid on first and the outfield played well. The problems lay in the middle infield of Matt Tolbert and Felix Molina, both of whom seemed have problems hanging on the to the ball. Tolbert's problems were eased a little though by the fact that he got a hit -- and a run, batted in by Scott Whitrock.

Brock Peterson

Pitching coach Eric Rassmussen had a fairly busy night, with several trips to the mound to have a talk to his young pitching staff. Harben and Peter Tautor both got his attention, as Ras tried to get them into the "mental" part of the game. However, for as much as Harben and Tautor were struggling, there was some good Miracle pitching Friday night as well.

Chris Schutt turned in a very solid performance, fanning six in three innings and allowing only two hits. Whether he was "Schutt 'em out", "Schutt 'em down" or "Schutt the door", he got his job done.

Jay Sawatski kept the Jays at bay through one 1.1 inning as well, replacing the stuggling Tautor.

I'm hoping that tonight's outing will be a bit more positive for the team. I knew that Dunedin would be difficult for this young team, but I don't believe they should prove impossible. It would be nice to see the Miracle back on the winning track.

THIRD BASE: The Twins third baseman of the future is not Matt Moses. It's David Winfree who's been ripping the cover off the ball in Low-A Beloit. Winfree is hitting .379 through 29 plate appearances and has four runs and four RBIs. He's also turning in some nice defensive work for the Snappers.

Moses nearly had another home run Friday night, but the winds were blowing back into the park, and the ball didn't go as far as it could have. He also hit it to one of the deeper parts of the field -- he might of made the fence if it had gone further to the right. As it was though, it turned into a harmless little put out at the hands of Jay's center fielder Jason Tingler.

Matthew Moses

STELLAR: Kyle Waldrop made an outstanding start for Beloit Wednesday night, pitching a complete game (7 innings, the second game of a double header) allowing only three hits while walking one and striking out three in route to a 3-0 win.

ROSTER MOVES: Beloit right-handed pitcher David Shinskie was placed on the Snappers seven-day disabled list with right elbow soreness and Jay Rainville was added to the roster Monday, April 11th to replace him, being promoted from Extended Spring Training.

First baseman Johnny Woodall was also placed on the DL with a broken right foot. Chris Brown, a stand out with the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles, was promoted to the Snappers to take his place. Brown was a free agent signing who received no bonus money. He struggled with the batting at the Gulf Coast level last season but spent extra hours in the batting cages trying to improve. He was rewarded when the Twin picked up his option for a second year. He'll now have the opportunity to prove himself at the single A level.

Beloit swept Kane County before falling last night to the Lansing Lugnuts, 6-4.

Twins starter Carlos Silva will make a rehab start with Beloit on Sunday night and his knee will be elvaluated to see if he can continue to pitch for the Twins.

Matt Tolbert

ROCKY ROADS: The Rock Cats are back in the win column with an 1-0 victory in 11 innings over the Harrisburg Senators. The Cats dropped their last five including the home opener to the Senators, 4-0 on Thursday.

Colby Miller, coming off an injury which ended his season last year, when seven innings in the game, allowing only four hits, walking one and striking out three.

John Thomas picked up the win, throwing 2 1/3 innings without a hit for the Cats.

CLIPPED WINGS: The Red Wings got a much needed night off after splitting a series against the Norfolk Tides.

Scott Baker turned in a better outing than his first, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out three on Tuesday night. Travis Bowyer picked up the win on that game, fanning four in two innings worth of work.

The Wings have added reliever Brian Wolfe to their roster, as well as former Pirate Jimmy Anderson, who was picked up by the Twins after being released by the Pirates. The 27-year-old lefty replaced Dave Gassner in the Red Wings line up.

Matt Tolbert

SPRING CONTINUES: The Extended Spring Training schedule is now available online HERE. I will not have regular reporting on it the scores are generally not released, however, I will be able to attend tomorrow's game against the Bosten Red Sox as the Miracle take a day off before facing the Threshers for three starting on Monday.

This means I will likely have the extended spring training roster available shortly as well.

FOUL BALLS CAN CAUSE INJURY: On my blog here Tuesday I wrote a rant about parenting and baseball.

Friday, the San Carlos Scrappers Little League team was present and not sitting in their seats. As a result, one kid got drilled in the ribs by a foul ball.

He managed to get out of the stands with a little help, but EMS was still working on him after the game.

These kids were sitting down in row 1 of section 114, just past the third base dugout and had been told AT LEAST a dozen times, if they were going to sit there, they had (1) sit and (2) pay attention to the game.

The child in question was (1) not sitting and (2) was not paying attention to the game.

Anyway..I just want to restate what I'd already stated. If you bringing a child to the game with you, PLEASE make them sit down and pay attention to the game. If you, as a parent can't do this, don't bring them to the game.

Remember, once you walk into the park, anything that happens to you or your child is your own responsiblity.

Bunting isn't going to work

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Must they go to the ballgame?

A Rant on parents and baseball...

I always get accused of not liking children. Honestly, I adore children. Especially Bar-B-Qued. Although roasted with a bit of basil in light wine sauce can prove very tastey as well. I've even got a bit of a receipe collection going for when I have children for dinner.

Aaron says "Oh, you were a child once yourself." No I wasn't. I never was.

But really, it's not the children themselves that bother me. It's the parents. You know, the ones who bring precious little Timmy or Tina to a game, and then let them run around unsupervised? In a stadium. With over 8,000 strangers in it. Man, it must really be a real drag for them to have to take little Timmy or Tina home again. I can only imagine that they were really hoping their kid would get abducted. Or perhaps hit in the head with a foul ball.

Maybe I should print up those receipes into a little booklet and have the unattended offspring take it back to their parents?

On Sunday game with maybe 70 or 700 people in the stands, I can see if the kids want to run around and chase foul balls. But there's no way in the world someone's gonna notice if little Tina gets spirited away in a crowd of 8,000. Or 3,000. Even if you drag the kid out of the park crying and screaming, most people would just assume they were overtired and having a temper tantrum. Time to go home. Right? No one knows what kid came in with what adult.

What bothers me the most - be it 8 or 8,000 is the children that, unsupervised by their loving and concerned parents, will go stand over the dugout or the bullpen and repeat over and over "Hey, can I have a ball?" or "Hey, number 2, can have your autograph?" in the middle of the game. And while no place in the park is really safe from a potential foul ball, standing over the dugout puts the child in serious danger if a ball should come flying foul off a bat at 90 MPH. And they do that. I know. I've seen it.

I was at a Marlins' game several years ago where I saw a ball came foul off a bat, line drive speed past first base and into the stands about section over from here I was, straight at a woman who was sitting there with her baby. She had no real time to react, so she instintively leaned over to protect her child. The ball took her square in the side of her face and shattered her jaw. She's very lucky it didn't hit her in her temple, where she would have been killed instantly.

It's become a Dave Barry joke, but it was not joke at the time it happened. She was taken out of the park by EMS. (This is one reason I honestly believe babies and baseball don't mix.)

But no, here's little Timmy or Tina, hanging out in the aisle right by third base, over the dugout not paying attention to the game in foul ball heaven.

We moved our seats this year in part because we got tired of having a bunch of non-baseball fans, standing up during play, chatting with each other and showing their babies off to each other. Watching someone's six month old get killed is just not my idea of a real good time.

But in moving, I discovered we're now sitting next to begging central. So I kept running the children off, and they kept coming back. On regular nights we have at least Don or Jerry or Paulie to take care of us. The kids come back, and they threaten to throw them out of the stadium. And yeah, Don may LOOK like Santa Claus, but I'd bet on him in a match against a pit bull. He's MEAN.

But this was the "Twins" spring training security staff on duty and no one told them what to do.

I was buggered, the people sitting next to me, which have a child, were buggered, and the people sitting on the other side of the aisle, which also have children were buggered. So see, it's not just me and my anti-child attitude that was ready to commit genecide. And of course the "mom" next to me is standing up and can't find a neon green shirt anywhere in the crowd of people when we needed one.

Once the aisle got too full we had kids trying to crawl in front of our seats. I stuck my arm out and fastened it to the dugout railing to prevent intrusions. Some kid tryed to pry my fingers off the railing. I gave him an evil look. Then he attempted to climb under and ran into my other hand and my leg. Were where those lethal fouls when I needed them? Hitting the upper deck. Shoot! Luck was just not with us that night.

Meanwhile the "Dad" on the other side of the aisle picked a child up who was trying to crawl over him and placed him back on the steps. Immediately some guy was there yelling at him. "You touched my kid!" Yeah, you know what? If it had been me I've told him to go get the police so I could charge the child with assault and the parent with child neglect.

I mean, I dunno. When I was a kid, my dad took me and my sister to baseball games. We had to sit in our seats. If we had to go to the bathroom we had to wait (quietly) until the end of the inning and then he'd take us up. And it didn't matter if only one had to go we both had to "try" to cut down on return trips. And you never, ever told him you had to go until there were at least two outs in the inning and you never, ever said you had to go NOW! This would get us taken home in a flash and as my folks were divorced, this meant we didn't get to see our dad for another week or two.

So you sat down and watched the game and learned it, just so knew the most opportune time to let that lemonaid you'd had earlier out of your bladder.

What a deprived childhood I had. I never got the opportunity to be abducted by a stranger. Or to be hit in the side of the head with a foul ball.

· "Give it to a kid": You know, it used to be that if I got a foul ball, I'd would give it to a kid. Then I found out the little extortionists were selling them to adults for $10 each.

But honestly, what really turned me off last year was when Travis Bowyer tossed me a ball from the bullpen. (We used to sit next to the bullpen and I'd leave the game for a bit to see who was warming up.) I looked around and saw the cutest little girl sitting in her seat with big round eyes watching the game. So I gave her ball. She was thrilled. She wanted to know if she could get it signed. I told her after the game, my friend #19 would sign it for her. Not a problem, Trav is really good with children.

The next thing I know her mother has her by the hand and is dragging her over to the bullpen. "Hey," she yells. "Can I have a ball too! #19! Can I have a ball too!" And nothing I could do would make this woman shut up and sit down.

So this year, I'm giving them to the whitecaps up in the disabled rows. They never act up and they never run around the stadium chasing balls and they never stand of the dugout or the bullpen begging for balls. Beside, Wes says I should be nice to the oldtimers. They're sitting in God's waiting room.

· "He Promised": This one is two fold. Saturday during opening night some kid came in the seventh inning, trying to muscle the other kids out of his way to the dugout. I was trying to clear the kids out (yet again) and said "You can't stand here! You have to go back to your seat!" The kids says "Number 5 said if he broke his bat I could have it and he broke his bat and I want it." Ron did shatter his bat, a few innings earlier. I said "AFTER THE GAME". He persisted and I kept telling him: AFTER THE GAME.

Finally, he left. The next thing I know, he's down on the other side of the section cutting through the first row to try and collect his bat. Guess what he was told when he got to the dugout? You've got it. After the game.

Last year, during a game as Sarasota, I was sitting next to the "Miracle" dugout, and a little league team had taken up residency next to me. They wanted autographs and I promised I'd get them autographs if they would agree in turn to cheer for the Miracle. They did. I had a bunch of players over and they signed everything and anything put in front of them, including shoes and body parts.

The kids held up their part of the deal as well and chanted "Let's go Miracle" through out the whole game. However, during the game, when Liriano had just vacated the mound and Travis was on from the bullpen and I had all the kids yelling "Go TRAVIS! Strike him out!" pretty much all together at the same time when this guy comes over from the next section. "That pitcher promised my daughter a ball when he was going into the dugout last inning and she's up there crying because she didn't get one."

I said "That pitcher just came out of the bullpen and has never been to the dugout yet and so he couldn't promise your daughter anything."

"Then it was the pitcher before him."

"That as Liriano and he speaks no english."

The guy gets fed up with me and starts hanging over the railing and trying to attract the attention of the people in the dugout. An usher finally told him he had to go sit down.

Red Snots fans. Gotta hate 'em. If the guy wanted his daughter to have a ball so badly, go to the gift stand and buy her one for $5.00. She wouldn't have known the difference.

(By the way, you can tell from this passage how much I REALLY hate kids, right?)

· Graphers: I've been accused by some fans of selling my autographs. Last year at the season ticket holder party I had Travis sitting there autographing a series of shots I'd taken (yes, I'm very partial to him) and someone came by and said "What's this? And E-Bay session?" Travis jumped up and said "She'd never!" followed almost instanteously by me with an "I'd never!" I like having the autographs because they are mementos of "my boys".

If you doubt me -- go ahead. Try and find something I've sold on e-Bay. I dare you to.

Now, there are some people that are professional graphers and will want the top prospects' graphs to sell. I remember a guy dropping a box of 12 balls in front of Colby Miller in 2003 and expecting him to sign them all. "I've got a shop in the Cape," he tells him. Well, at least he's honest. Try this one...

This kid, maybe about 8 or 9, is standing down at the landing at the bottom of 115, a popular autographing spot prior the Fort Myers games with a ball in his hand and cell phone in his pocket. The phone goes off, walkie-talkie style.

"Now remember, only get the players with the following numbers on that ball." The numbers of Baker, Liriano and several other players are rattled off. The kid promises. He picks nervously at the ball, which was a gift shop ball.

The phone goes off again. "And don't pull that little silver sticker off of the bottom of the ball." The kid says okay and then bends down to pick up the little sticker he's just crumbled into an irrecoverable wad and tries to put it back on the ball.

You kind of had to feel sorry for that kid. He was ruining his college fund. And he was obviously in fear of what might happen if he got the wrong players, or what was going to happen when his father found out he'd pulled the MLB sticker off the ball.

There's also a lot of kids, generally of the older level -- like 12 or 13, who will "run cards" meaning they'll go down and try to get cards signed by players and then give them back to dealer in exchange for cash or merchandise (usually Yu Gi Oh cards).

Yeah, I would like to believe my MLB/NBA/NHL/NFL card collection is my retirement fund, but I find it very hard to part with even the Barry Bonds cards (and I HATE Barry Bonds).

· Feeding Frenzy: But honestly, the Florida State League is not as bad as the major leagues in one regard. The ball boys are not allowed to throw balls out to the crowd. So this makes for only localized begging as you have to get one from a player or coach. This is also why we call the ball boys "Ball Trolls" because, you know, they can't give them out. So we know they are hoarding the balls. [[wink!]]

I go to a major league game and the ball boy runs by and people just leap to their feet going "Ball! Ball! Ball!" accompanied by a clapping of hands. It reminds me a lot of the seal feeding tank at SeaWorld Orlando. "Arr! Arr! Arr!" accompanied by a clapping of flippers. Except that's probably really insulting to the seals, who actually shut up after they've had enough to eat.

For baseball fans however, one ball is never enough.

The people next to me, who I believe are premium pack holders, weasled two balls out of the team on Saturday, using their little boy as a poster child for ball-less children. They kept them both! And I bet that kid never gets to play with them either!

· Why I REALLY like the GCL: Easy. No introduction ceremonies. Not promotions. The umpires show up, the managers exchange line ups, and then we play ball. No screaming kids, no oversized orange mascots, no stupid promotions. Just baseball. Wow! What a concept!

Monday, April 11, 2005

First Impressions

A look at what might be the most talented team in the minor league system and just where the heck is Glen Perkins anyway?

First impressions can be lasting, and if that's the case, the 2005 Miracle squad made a very good first impression on the home town crowd in a pair of games on Saturday and Sunday.

Glen Perkins was to start on Saturday, however he as a bruised wrist and was given the night off. He will be re-evaluated before his scheduled start on Thursday. So when I walked into the park and saw Josh Gray's name on the line up, I sort of groaned internally.

Gray was a starter for the first part of 2004, won his first pair of games, and then fell apart. I mean, I tried sticking up for him. "Oh, it's the fielding," or "Oh, he was getting a lot of bad bounces," or....finally I just threw my hands up in disgust and said "Okay. You're right. He can't pitch."

So he got moved to the bullpen. "It's not a demotion," he tells me. "It's a ...change." He was determined to make the best of it. Unfortunately he just seemed to get into more trouble. Finally I noted the lack of playing time.

"They're using me as a left-handed specialist," he tells me. "They want to be able to say that I got out every left-handed batter I faced." I looked skeptical. I am generally skeptical of specialists as a whole. "Hey," he says. "It's a living." Rather unfortunately, he failed even at that.

However, he's lefty and you know...the Twins love their lefties.

So he shows up this year for spring training and he looked like he's filled out some frame wise. He had a good spring training and while he wasn't scheduled to be a starter, they decided to give him a shot.

He did make the most of it, allowing two runs in two innings on four hits and fanning two. So okay...maybe he can pitch.

Actually most of the returnees played pretty well. Ron Perodin seemed more solid in the outfield with four or five put outs on the night. Very nice. Dog's got game. Felix Molina turned in a credible performance at second, with the exception of one stealing attempt that I will cover in a bit more detail in just a bit.

The new players were delightful as well. So, let's start with the batting order...

Denard Span: This kid is simply magnificent when he takes off. He laid down a bunt on Sunday that left the Red's catcher eating grass. While he's stuck in a system that's heavy in the outfield, his speed is going to set him apart. His only mistake on the evening was an attempt to make a sliding save on a fly. He didn't quite slide far enough. However he was close enough to limit the runner to only one base. He did make rather spectacular catch later, that sort of made up for that one little mistake.

Matt Tolbert: I didn't know too much about him coming into this game. I still really don't know too much about him, save that he was .308 with Elizabethton last season and was drafted in June in the 16th round by the Twins. Played NCAA for the University of Mississippi. I might of thought he was not experienced enough for this level of play, but he's been proving otherwise.

My only problem with him so far was a boneheaded play in Sunday's game. A Reds runner is headed to second and Brock Peterson fires from first toward Jesus Merchan who'd moved in from short to cover the base. Matt Tolbert comes running in to try and intercept, misses the ball, and the runner is safe on second. Teamwork guys, teamwork. Let Jesus have the play when he's on it. That should have been an easy out. I think maybe he's trying to hard to impress.

Matt Moses: He can swing a bat. Defensively, I was a little ambivalent towards him on Saturday. He moves around a lot. More than I thought was maybe necessary. But then I though, you know, Coach Milt (Cuyler) is always telling (Travis) Kalin to bounce around out there a bit in Gulf Coast League so maybe all the movement is a good thing. But I wasn't really comfortable with him. It wasn't anything I could put a finger on, it's not like he didn't make any plays he should of.

I think in part, the problem was with the first boneheaded play. Felix Molina is on second, and Moses is on first with one out. Molina runs at the pitch, but he's not fast enough as Miguel Perez fires to third. Mark Schramek shows Mo the ball and smiles. Mo turns around and heads back to second but Schramek fires to second. Now Luis Bolivar has the ball and shows it Mo, who is caught in between, Mo starts to back up and Boliver comes off the plate -- at which point Moses starts running.

Timing here guys -- timing. As the song goes "Timing is a thing, it's true." If they'd both gone at the same time, Perez would not have known where to throw to and that moment of confusion would have cost them. And Mo, knowing he is going to get tagged out one way or the other, doesn't start to run to third, which I think is what Moses was counting on. Instead he lets himself get tagged out right in front of second plate. And as Moses is sliding in, Boliver gleefully turns around and sweeps the ball across Moses' back for the third out to retire the side.

Now, I'm not sure who was not paying attention. I'm sure Mo was not looking at was Moses was doing, he was watching the ball, but I would have thought that Moses would have made sure that Mo was going to play pickle for a little longer before allowing himself to be tagged out. I'd have waited for the throw to third and then ran, because even if the guy threw back to second, he'd have to chose between a dodging Mo and a sliding Moses. But that's just me. Bleacher coach. What the heck do I know?

So okay. That was Saturday and I kept saying. It was both their faults. Right?

Sunday saw boneheaded play #2 early on. One of the Reds hits a little tapper to the infield, and Harben comes off the mound to play it while Moses comes rushing in from third. Maybe Harben didn't yell "I got it, I got it, I got it" like he's supposed to. Maybe he did, and Moses didn't hear him. In any case, Harben got the ball but ended up getting tangled up with Moses, got the throw off late and the runner was safe on first. Even if Harben didn't say "I got it, I got it, I got it", Moses should have seen that he was at top of that play and backed off. Should have been an easy out.

So you just sort of shake your head and keep believing... Harben did have some words for Moses after that play. I will not repeat them here.

And then finally, Moses fields a ball at third and tries to throw to first but he must have been focusing on a kid in the stands, as he way overthrew Peterson. To Peterson's credit, he tried to leap up and catch it, but he would have had to be superman to even come close. I think it went into the stands somewhere around the eight or ninth row. Take two boys, take two.

So this gives Molina one bonehead, Tolbert one bonehead and Moses three boneheads, making him the early runner for the Bonehead of the Year award.

Moses pays some very good attention when he's at the plate. He needs to stop bouncing around at third and pay more attention to what's going on around him.

Brock Peterson: I love you Mr. Peterson! Finally -- we've got a solid first baseman! One who actually seems to know what he's doing out there!

So 1-for-5 on Saturday and 1-for-4 on Sunday with a RBI on each day. All he needs to do is solidify his batting and he'd be perfect! Augh! Meanwhile, I'm instructed to go ask him about the skunk story from his Elizabethton days. This should be interesting.

Kyle Phillips: Okay, I'm gushing. I admit it. This kid is just so good with his pitching staff! And yes, I've been gushing about him since his brief stint during the 2003 playoffs but consider... Tristan Crawford is struggling on the plate and Phillips stops before he throws back to show him where he wants to try to put the pitch next time. Just a quick one or two fingers out and a wave at area, nothing overly obvious, but Crawford gets the idea.

When Joey Votto finally homers off Crawford, Phillips walks calmly up to the mound. He asks what kind of pitch at was. Crawford shows him the fingering. Phillips says good, don't throw that again. Then walks back to the plate. He manages to nurse Crawford through three innings with three runs on three hits (including the yarder) and get three strikes out of him on top of that.

Good kid. I'm very fond of Kyle Geiger too, but when Josh Hill was struggling on Sunday, he did nothing to help him get through it. It was up to us bleacher coaches to try to muddle him through until he found his stuff.

Additionally there was a high pop up behind the plate Saturday night. Phillips is on it and Matt Moses comes flying in from third and Phillips' mask and hat comes off and suddenly, he's down on his knees in the dirt and we're sure they're both gonna miss it and then suddenly, Phillips is on his belly and somehow, miraculously, he got it!

I don't think Phillips defense has ever been in question. His problem last season was in hitting the ball in a pitchers' league. If he can perform well at plate this year, and continue his strong play behind it, he should go pretty far in this organization.

Scott Whitrock: Ah...long have I waited for Whitrock on this team. He's been playing right field and while he was not been really tested out there on either day, he played as expected. highlight reel yet. Put sometimes, you like the guys that quietly get their jobs done.

The most notable thing about "Red" was on Sunday when he tried to bowl Bolivar over on his way to second. He lost his helmet and Bolivar's spike caught him on the side of the head, right above his right eye. He was down in the dirt for several minutes but made if off the field under his own power. He came out of the dugout later with a bit of knot forming there. He'll be day-to-day and is being held out tonight at least, with utility-infielder Ben Pattee replacing him in right.

J.R. "Sam" Taylor: This is another kid I've been waiting for a long time to make his Miracle debute. He served as designated hitter on Saturday as it seems like Tolbert is hogging playing time at short or 2nd. But the that's what the organization wants so...I will wait patiently for Sam to finally take the field.

He hit 2-for-3 and was caught stealing, but he did make a fair attempt at getting from second to third. How was he to know the ball was going to be hit straight to Schramek?

I've already mentioned Tristan Crawford's performace. I wasn't thrilled, but I think he will improve. Chris Schutt was a little shakey to start as well, but some strong fielding, and bit of coaxing from Phillips got him through.

I have to note that, as far as I was concerned, Saturday's win was a gift from the Reds. The game was tied at the bottom of the ninth, so we went into overtime. Schutt kept the Reds off the board.

The Miracle were more aggressive. With two runners on and no outs against Tyler Pelland, there is a long discussion and then Matt Moses is intentionally walked to load the bases. I knew that was coming sometime that night, but...even with one out it would have been iffy to walk him. In a sudden death situation with no outs and the clean up hitter up to bat (and granted, Peterson was 0-for-4 at that point) it was insanity. Obviously, it didn't work as Peterson put it cleanly by Hector Tiburcio at short to bring in the winning run.

Ah....clutch hitting! What a wonderful invention! Someone should have thought of that sooner!

As for Sunday, Moses was pulled near the end of the game and Omar Burgos finished up for us, with no highlights or low-lights.

Jesus Merchan played at short and hit into the "Ribby" fest in the sixth, bring in four runs on a double. Way to go 'Zuse!

Kyle Geiger was the catcher for the day and Adam Harben was good, but not dominating. I expected better from him. He had three runs, 2 earned, in five innings while fanning three. Julio DePaula came on to get him out of the fifth inning, as he started struggling in the fourth. I'll be interested in seeing if throwing to Phillips makes a difference in his performance.

I REALLY liked DePaula. Very solid performance, only one hit - no runs - in 2.1 innings. I would like to think his solid play on the mound sparked the boys for their big sixth inning but um...

In all honesty, "Mighty" Joe Powers stuggled mightily. We really liked him though. The Reds could have left him in longer. Aaron kept telling me to stop singing "Ding dong, the pitch is dead..." because he wasn't a wicked pitch, we liked him. Yeah, well, six runs, 3 earned on 2 hits while walking five in 1.2 innings. Heck yeah, we liked him! But I think that sixth inning took an hour just by itself to play.

The last of the pitchers was Josh Hill, who threw well in Spring Training, but got off to a shakey start against the Reds. He did finally settle down and get his work done, but the early going was tough. I think Phillips would have nursed him through the early going with a "Put it here, Shaggy", but Geiger hasn't learned these little tricks yet.

Also Geiger failed to throw out two stealing attempts. Weak, buddy. Weak. (That makes him 3-and-0 on the season for stolden bases. Gotta work on that.)

In any case, this put the Miracle off to a very good start -- the only team in the organization that was yet undefeated as of Sunday night. This next week will be the real test though as the Miracle take on the Tampa Yankees, Dunedin Blue Jays and Clearwater Threshers!

· Extended Spring Training starts on Thurday, April 14th and runs through Saturday June 11th. I was thinking great! I can see the guys on Sunday but no...that conflicts with a Miracle game. But maybe I can get a roster. However, Sunday the 24th, the Miracle are in Clearwater so I'll get to watch the GCL boys.

Somedays though, I'm more tempted to go watch Spring Instructional. But I'll cover those reason in a rant tomorrow.

Wednesday I will have a review of the minors after their first week of play and who's hot (David Winfree!) and who's not.