Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 Pirate City Recap

Day Two started at Pirate City. Minor league players were everywhere to be seen on the five and a half fields. Happily, I was able to meet Tim Williams, who runs the excellent Pirates Prospects. Tim informed me that Gerrit Cole would not be pitching, but luckily there was still (as always) plenty to see. A quick photo essay:

Coaches watch batting practice.

Club President Frank Coonelly gives a tour. Steve Blass gave a similar tour earlier.

Tony Sanchez walks through the bullpen.

Sanchez about to step in the cage.

Starling Marte (#6) waits for his turn while Kris Watts hits.

Kyle McPherson throws to Sanchez.

“The Legend” Garrett Jones had a fan on site. The crowd was sparse when we arrived but filled in a lot by the time we broke for lunch.

Autograph hounds float around too. Here, they descend on Tony Sanchez.

The pictures turned out more Tony Sanchez-centric than I intended. Not pictured but seen running various drills: Stetson Allie, Gorkys Hernandez, Mel Rojas, Jr., and Brian Friday.

Lunch was at the nearby Mixon Fruit Farm where my Dad and I ate with fellow Pirate fan Matt Brown. I had a tasty Cuban sandwich followed by this number for dessert.

That is a swirl of orange ice cream made with fresh squeezed orange juice. It tasted just like a cream-sickle only better.

Mixon’s came highly recommended and now I know why. This will definitely become a regular part of our trips to Spring Training.

Coming up: Part II: McKechnie Field and the Tigers.

Friday AM post

Today’s plan: Head to Pirate City, hopefully to see Gerrit Cole pitch; Lunch at Mixon’s Fruit Farm and Tigers/Pirates in the afternoon. Follow along on twitter during the day or check back here tonight for a full recap.

In case you missed it, here’s yesterday’s recap.

Spring Training 2012: Thursday 3/22 Recap

The Pirates played a sloppy game and lost 8-6 to the Rays. Pirates Prospects has the down and dirty. MLB.com has the box score.

Good: Yamaico Navarro went 3-4 with a HR and 3 RBI and looked pretty good in the field. Nate McLouth and Alex Presley pulled off a nice double steal.

Up and Down: Rod Barajas hit a solo homer but was easily thrown out at second earlier in the game when he hit a high fly off the left field wall. Matt Hague was 1-1 after his pop-up to short was obscured by a flock of seagulls crossing from the right field grandstand to the left field grandstand.

Bad: Pedro Alvarez. Oh, Pedro. 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. He also had a foul ball go off his glove. It was a tough play, but it just looks like the confidence isn’t there.

After the game, Clint Hurdle names Erik Bedard as the opening day starter.

Some pics from today:

Lineups

Players warm up under a beautiful sky.

Karstens makes a face while warming up...

...to Rod Barajas

Cutch is good people.

Taking the field

Gearhard line: One beer, one Pepsi, one sausage.

Dinner at Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus, featuring a wonderful Oktoberfest brew.

Ahhhh

image

A beautiful day for baseball. More pics tonight.

Pirates Spring Training Guide

Good morning from the road! I’m at the airport, headed down to Bradenton to catch a few Pirates games. If you’ll be at the ballpark Thursday, Friday or Saturday, send me a message and we can meet up.

I’ve been going to spring training for most of the last 15 years and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Hopefully they can be helpful to you if you decide to take the trip for yourself.

1. Pirate City: There’s always something going on at Pirate City unless its raining hard. Usually you can see minor leaguers doing drills from 9-11ish. They play their games around 1, but if the afternoon looks like rain they can move those earlier.
2. At the Game: McKechnie Field opens an hour before the game. Pirates BP will be over by that point but the other team will be hitting. The Pirates have a batting cage and bullpen down the RF line where you can see guys get some extra swings and that day’s starter warm up. If you are an autograph hound, this is where you want to make camp. (Its also a good area for foul balls, so keep your head up.)
3. Breakfast at Popi’s Place right outside the stadium is always fun and they have lots of 90’s era Pirate’s memorabilia on the walls. I’ve heard good things about Mixon’s Fruit Farm and will check it out this year. And if you’re feeling adventurous there’s a place called the Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus out on Anna Maria Island which is incredible. You’ll need reservations be the beer is cold and the potato pancakes are delicious.

Playing Pepper: Answering Questions For C70 At The Bat

I, along with Jim from North Side Notch, answered some preseason Pirates questions for the Cardinals blog C70 At The Bat.

The questions answered are:

1) What was your opinion of the team’s offseason?
2) Can Pedro Alvarez get back to the form that made him a top prospect?
3) How will the rotation shape up?
4) Is there a prospect that will make an impact on the team this season?
5) Where will the team finish in their division and what are you most excited about for 2012?

My favorite part is that Jim and I gave the same answer for the Pedro Alvarez question almost word-for-word. Give a click to see what it was.

Dock Ellis Trade Tree

Happy Birthday to Dock Ellis, who would have been 67 today. John Dreker of Pirates Prospects has an in-depth look at Dock’s career today and asked me if I would create this trade tree to go in conjunction with it. Little did I know this would be one of the longer trees I’ve come across, spanning 28 years and 25 players. It even has a link to the Manny Sanguillen tree. (I missed Miguel Dilone‘s second stint with the Bucs when I made that one.)

Dock started the All-Star Game in 1971 while winning 19 games for the World Series winning Pirates. In 1970 he threw a complete game no-hitter and posted the highest WAR (3.1) of his Pirates career.

I always learn something new doing these. On this one I found out that former Astros, A’s and Mets manager Art Howe is a Pittsburgh native and started his playing career as a Buc.

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