Spring Training Update, March 20th
Good evening from Peoria!
Today was an off day for the major league club so most of the attention was on the minor league back fields. Jeremy Bonderman pitched for the AAA Tacoma club against the Royals AAA affiliate, Omaha.
When a big league pitcher makes a start on the minor league side, a big league catcher comes along with him. Today it was Kelly Shoppach.
AAA Game Recap
Tacoma defeated Omaha 6-3 in what ended up being a 9 ½ inning game. These minor league games are run with no scoreboard and really no format. Some innings can go five or six outs. Or, Kansas City has a rule that no pitcher can throw more than 20 pitches in a single inning.
Bonderman, according to my scorecard pitched 6.2 innings and threw 76 pitches. He allowed one run on five hits and struck out 4. He also hit a batter. He finished his outing allowing three straight hits, but reached his pitch limit. He had an 80 pitch limit in the outing. He really dominated until those last three hitters.
Kelly Shopach made the most of his time on the back fields blasting a 2-run home run and hitting a 2-run double. Shoppach also provided one of the quotes of the day below.
Of note, Bobby LaFromboise and Moises Hernandez each allowed a hit, but pitched scoreless innings. Brian Sweeney entered the game following Bonderman and allowed two runs in his first inning of work.
At the Dish
Their honestly was not a lot of offense outside of Shopach in the AAA game. The Royals pitching was impressive against anyone other than Shoppach. Their starter 6 foot 5 Will Smith (not that Will Smith) struck out seven in five innings of work. Lefty Chris Dwyer was filthy later in the game and struck out three in 2.0 innings. He featured a 12 to 6 curve ball that had some pretty incredible bite.
Rich Poythress entered the game in the 6th inning and belted a ground rule double down the right field line. Rich is in great shape and seems to be swinging the bat really well.
James Jones continues to impress offensively and defensively. The former 4th round pick in 2009 beat out a routine ground ball to short and also stole 2nd base easily. He also has two outfield assists the last three days.
Adam Moore played for the Royals AAA group on Wednesday. The former Jackson and Mariners catcher went 1-for-4 with a double against Bonderman and also scored a run. I caught up with Adam after the game and he said he felt like he would start the year in AAA Omaha.
Minor League Operations Assistant Casey Brett said the potential four-man outfield Jackson could have is being called around camp the 4×400 meter relay guys. (Jones, Leon Landry, Daniel Carroll and Abe Almonte) At one point in the AAA game, Julio Morban, Jones and Landry were in the outfield. Those guys can cover some ground.
Notes from the AA game
The AA Mariners took on the Royals AA guys on another backfield Wednesday. I don’t know the final score, but 2012 Generals opening day starter Andrew Carraway pitched 4.0 scoreless innings and allowed just one hit. Also in the game, catcher Steve Baron blasted a 3-run home run.
Training Table on the go
The Kansas City Royals had a training table with them on their short trip from Surprise. It was very unique to see guys getting worked on underneath a shade tree in the middle of the back fields.
An abundance of catchers
If there is a position on the field you would like to have too much of, it’s catching…Okay, maybe you can argue pitching, but right now the Mariners have an abundance. Right now it seems this is the pecking order of catchers in the organization.
1. Jesus Montero
2. Kelly Shoppach
3. Jesus Sucre
4. Mike Zunino
5. Ronny Paulino
6. John Hicks
7. Steve Baron
8. Carlton Tanabe
From Sucre on down, those guys should be in AAA or AA, but there just isn’t enough spots. It provides as many tough decisions as pitching does.
OF Eric Thames, C Mike Zunino and RHP Logan Bowcom were re-assigned to minor league camp Wednesday. None of which were involved in the minor league games. Those moves bring the number of players in major league camp to 37.
Joe Dunigan and Stefen Romero are both suffering from oblique injuries. Both have a chance of beginning the season on the DL.
New digs for Peoria Sports Complex
Once spring training ends officially, they will begin dismantling the current clubhouse/offices on both the Padres and Mariners side. The facility is 20 years old and upgrades are necessary. The project is scheduled to take 10 months and be ready for the opening of camp in 2014.
Generals taking over camp
Not only are the Generals taking over on the field here in Peoria. I’ve been joined by Generals’ owners Reese Smith and David Freeman, as well as General Manager Jason Compton. Jackson home clubhouse manager C.J. Fedewa has been here since Friday working in the clubhouse.
Taste of the Show
During last night’s Giants/Mariners game I was fortunate enough to join Mariners broadcaster Rick Rizzs on the Mariners radio network while Aaron Goldsmith did some TV. It was quite special that 2012 Generals Brandon Maurer, Brad Miller and Nick Franklin had big nights.
Quote of the Day
Today I have two quotes. One comes from catcher Kelly Shopach. After Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis kept an inning going past 5 outs, when the 6th out was made Shopach yelled sarcastically “Now can we come off”. Jackson Manager Jim Pankovits is managing the AAA club and after the game I congratulated him on the win. He replied, “Yep, I think I am 8-0 this spring, but I’m not really sure.”
What’s on tap
Tomorrow the AAA and AA squads make a road trip to play the Rangers in Surprise while the A- and A+ teams will stay at home to play the Rangers. I will probably check out the lower level guys for a while then make my way over to the big league side. Tomorrow we will be cutting some promos and liners from former Jackson players that will be seen on the Jackson ballpark video board and audio heard on 96.5 ESPN during the season. Tomorrow night at 7, the Mariners host the Chicago Cubs at the Peoria Sports Complex with Jon Garland scheduled to start. Erasmo Ramirez is scheduled to pitch after Garland. Starting for the Cubs is Jeff Samardzija. It’s expected to be another capacity crowd.