Spring Training 2012: Saturday 3/24 McKechnie Field Recap

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

PirateFest was going on today, but I went to Pirate City instead. Luckily I arrived in time to get this shot:

Matt Hague (pirate ship hat) and Charlie Morton sign autographs.

Going inside I headed to the batting cages to see if anyone was hitting. Along the way I ran into club President Frank Coonelly and was able to ask him about the renovations that are going to happen at McKechnie Field. Specifically I asked if they considered making the outfield dimensions match those in PNC Park. Mr. Coonelly’s answers:

My thanks to Mr. Coonelly for his time. On to the game! Recap. Box Score.

Excellent: James McDonald. James was wild on the first two pitches of the game, causing me worry that it was going to be a long day. He would immediately right the ship and pitch 5 1/3 innings before giving up his first hit. Final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, and 3 K. McDonald also showed a good glove and was able to coax a walk out of Astros pitcher Kyle Weiland.

Good: Neil Walker‘s 2-run single and Garrett Jones‘ 2-run bomb accounted for all of the scoring. Walker’s hit came after Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen both failed to get a runner home from third with less than two out. Jones’ shot landed more than 90 feet past the right field wall.

Very Bad: Ryota Igarashi showed very little control and is looking at a steep hill to climb if he wants to make the team. The five batters he faced went walk, walk, homerun, ground out, infield hit.

Pictures:

Another beautiful day at McKechnie Field.

Lineups. (J.B. Shuck?)

Jose Tabata in the batting cage.

Garrett Jones followed.

A good day for autographs. Morton signed a lot on his way to the clubhouse after his appearance at PirateFest.

Rod Barajas signed after a turn in the batting cage. Someone asked him about possibly setting a new record for homeruns by a Pirates catcher.

Andrew McCutchen is good people. He signed every day that I saw him.

James McDonald does some long toss to get loose...

…and then warms up to Michael McKenry in the bullpen.
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Former Pirate outfielder and manager Bill Virdon watches.

Mini McGehee doesn't appear to like the mini-parrot.

When the gulls start landing on the field, you know the game will be over pretty soon.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a wrap up and final thoughts.

Thursday Trade Tree – Jason Kendall

The number 18 has a history of being worn by some pretty good Pirates; from Bill Virdon and Matty Alou through Andy Van Slyke and Neil Walker. In 1996 it was donned by an exciting young catcher who would make three All-Star teams and was one of the best players in the league from 1998 to 2000 (OPS+ of 131, 136 and 124): Jason Kendall.

Young Jason Kendall was a lot of fun to watch until a thumb injury in 2001 sapped him of his power and he began his descent to the slap hitter we’ve known for the last decade. The trade to Oakland came just before he fell completely off of the table as a hitter, so good timing there. Unfortunately they didn’t get much in return, as was the norm at the time.

*I tried to find out what happened in the Bayliss trade at the end there but team officials were unable to find or confirm any information on who the PTBNL turned out to be or if the transaction was settled with cash. Neal Huntington should call Alex Anthopoulos and demand a player.

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