Spring Training 2012: Saturday 3/24 Pirate City Recap

Ed. note: Travel delays and prior commitments kept me from getting this posted sooner.

Back to Pirate City again this morning. Minor league coaches differ a lot in their approach. Some will try to be a friend while some are drill sergeants. Class A West Virginia manager Rick Sofield falls into the latter category. On Friday I saw him absolutely tearing into a group of thirdbasemen for not showing enough effort. Today, he was similarly ripping a group of pitchers during a drill where multiple base runners are moving but censored himself because there was an audience this time. Very entertaining to watch in either case.

Lots of meeting on the field in minor league camp, as the group gets instructions for the next drill.

Moments later they were ready to go.

Meanwhile, catchers practice rundowns on another field.

2012 2nd round pick Josh Bell runs the bases.

With that, it was time to say good bye to Pirate City and head over to McKechnie and the Astros.

Saturday AM post

Here are yesterday’s recaps from Pirate City and McKechnie Field.

Today’s schedule is to hit Pirate City again, then the Astros/Pirates game at 1pm. After that its time to head home so tonight’s posts may be late.

Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 McKechnie Field Recap

If you missed it, check out Part 1: Pirate City.

As I walked into McKechnie I got word that Pedro Alvarez was in the batting cage.

animated gif maker
Animated gif maker

This is five shots of five different swings I’ve put together in a gif. Pedro looked to be swinging well and the ball had a good sound coming off of his bat. The coach pitching to him was having him work on staying back. This was bout two hours before news broke that Alvarez has discomfort in his knee and will be held out for a few games. As you can see he’s not wearing a brace and I saw no sign of a limp. But as someone who has some knee issues of my own, I can say that certain movements trigger the pain more than others. It may be an issue where he can’t run or field as well as he needs to but swinging does no harm.

On to the game. Recap. Box Score. Pictures at the bottom.

Good: Charlie Morton was lights out. 4 IP, 2 H, 2 K. Mostly groundballs. I’ll have more on him below. Matt Hague continued to look strong in his bid to make the big league club both at bat (2 run HR) and in the field (nice pick of a throw in the dirt.) Jose Tabata went 3-4.

Up and Down: Casey McGehee booted one easy grounder but made a nice play later on one which was hit harder. No hits fell in for him but he hit the ball square each time. Rod Barajas went 0-3 but had a good throw to catch Georgia Tech alum Tony Plagman stealing.

Nearly Bad: Chris Leroux got Charlie Brown’d during his one inning. A line drive had him duck so fast his hat came off. Luckily he wasn’t hit or hurt and finished the inning without incident.

Just Bad: Daniel McCutchen was more unlucky than anything else. Most of the hits he gave up were soft ground balls that just eluded the defense. However, the grand slam was a no-doubter to centerfield.

After the game I was able to briefly speak with Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. I asked him about Morton not being named to the rotation for the opening week in contrast with his stellar outing today, and if it was just a matter of getting him stretched out. I didn’t have a recorder so I’ll paraphrase in an attempt not to misquote Mr. Huntington.

  • The team is in a fortunate position in that the schedule allows them to “find out where he is” and take the time to make sure Charlie is healthy and ready to go without rushing him.
  • In a similar situation last year with James McDonald, James came back too quickly to start the year and ended up not performing well in April.
  • Asked if Charlie could be used the first time the 5th starter is needed on April 14, Huntington responded that it was “an option.”

Barring any new developments, my gut says to look for Charlie on the 14th. Many thanks to Mr. Huntington for his time and words.

Pictures:

Lineups

Morton doing long toss while Barajas stretches.

Clint Hurdle signs an autograph.

Just for Pat at WHYGAVS, a signed Andy Van Slyke ball that was up for auction.

Former Pirates' manager Jim Leyland.

Former Pirate Rafael Belliard took out the lineup card.

Sellout, full house.

Morton throws a warmup pitch.

The Sandbar on Anna Maria Island

Dinner was a nice piece of grouper with a baked potato and a Maker's and Coke. Oh, and this great view.

Tomorrow: Last day. Probably go to Pirate City and see if A.J. Burnett will be throwing his simulated game there.

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.

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.
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