Posted by: JimBibbySweat1 on Mar 06, 2012
Day 1: (Notes From) Trips Pirates City & Sarasota
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an outfielder look as shaky as Starling Marte did for the first three and a half innings of Monday since, well, Garrett Jones last spring. Marte misplayed a fly ball to straight away right field into a two-base error and last-second snagged the second fly hit his way. The Opening Night crowd at Sarasota gasped in anticipation of another error but he caught it. Not exactly what I expected from the player thought to have the ability to move the $51.5 million man from left to center. But it’s spring training. No need to overreact.
EDIT – We had to leave after the first 3 ½ innings, which lasted 90 minutes. From what I understand, Robbie Grossman had trouble in the outfield, too. Maybe it was the lighting or the wind (which wasn’t too bad), but something strange was going on with fly balls.
Matt Hague hit a foul opposite field near-dinger that made me question statements that he doesn’t have any power. Then I remembered how Matt Diaz smoked a Grapefruit League homer at a game I caught in 2011 and we know how that turned out. But, the next time Hague batted he went deep to left-center for a well-struck four-bagger. I’d love to see him have a big season. He’s off to a good start.
I mentioned Marte in the field. I’m not sure I’ve seen a run spring from home to the rounding of first base as fast as I saw Marte on Monday night. If Omar Moreno was the Antelope, then Marte is the deer or the Jaguar or something fast. He stole second on the first pitch and beat the throw by five feet. He swung at everything thrown to the plate. If he can work on his plate discipline he’ll be a star. Big if, though.
Pedro Alvarez struck out twice on six pitches, getting behind in the count both times as in a replay of 2011. The third time up he made the third out of a big Pirate rally, but at least he hit the ball. It looks like Alvarez is struggling to find a way to slow the game down and so far hasn’t been able to.
Justin Wilson was very impressive. He walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, but after that he was lights out. His fastball was either 94 or 95 mph. What makes that even more impressive is that he’s left-handed.
Those were just a few reactions from the early part of Monday night’s game against Baltimore. The best part of the night might have been taking some quality photos of future Oriole star, Manny Machado.
Earlier in the day we – my father and I – ventured to Pirate City.
Walked past a smiling Neal Huntington as I was leaving – I had yet to hear the news on the Andrew McCutchen extension. Is that not the best news in the new millennium? Getting two or three years of McCutchen post-arbitration is huge for the organization. I’d hazard to guess McCutchen’s money is the most since the Jason Kendall deal. The Pittsburgh center fielder is only 25 and players usually don’t develop their skillset until age 27 or so; there is room to grow. Of course, it sends a message to other major leaguers that the Bucs mean business. It also prevents big budget teams like the Yankees and Red Sox from stealing away the Pirates’ best talent.
Maybe MLB should’ve just let the little baby Buccaneers overslot players instead.
I saw Luis Heredia last spring and watched him again Monday. He’s put on weight – and not in the best of ways. He’s got a little pot belly going. If he doesn’t watch out that thing could grow. Take it from me, I know.
I was impressed with Heredia’s stuff. I liked the sinking action on his off-speed stuff. His fastball didn’t impress me and his curve didn’t break sharply. Of course, I was watching a bullpen session early in camp and who knows what percentage of his best stuff he was rolling out.
A respected coach (not in the Pirates organization) focused on Heredia’s mechanics. He was concerned with the lack of follow-through on his delivery.
The Pirates used an eye-tracking device at Pirate City on Monday. This device apparently tracks a batter’s eyes and his focus on the ball as the pitcher releases it. I spoke briefly to the woman behind the technology and she said that the technology keeps track of the batter’s best 10 pitch-trackings and the 10 worst. The device works through a pair of glasses worn by the batter. A packet is strapped around his waist and back, too. The Bucs are leaving no stone unturned.
I will have photos posted on my Twitter account @PiratesTalk in case you would like to check out photos of Heredia, Josh Bell, or the eye-tracking device.
Treasure life & Beat the Yanks Tuesday!