After a stormy Thursday night and Friday, I woke up to a bright, clear and crisp Saturday morning. It would be my last day of baseball on this trip, and the fates smiled upon me, not only with the weather, but with a good game at a great spring training park. Phillies vs. Twins at Bright House Field in Clearwater.
Bright House may be the most organized and easiest to navigate park in the Grapefruit League, at least from the media’s perspective. The parking is ample. The administrative offices are open and welcoming. I walked into the facility, which is really an office building connected to the stadium, and was greeted by pleasant smiles and efficient workers. I gave my name and a press pass appeared almost instantly. Newbies like me usually have to figure out the lay of the land at the ballpark, but the young woman at the front desk immediately pointed out the clubhouse entrance (to the left) the media room (to the right) and the press box (the elevator behind you, third floor, follow the walkway up the third base line). It wouldn’t have shocked me if someone appeared from out of nowhere to take my bag and offer me some ice water with lemon in it.
I gave the media room a miss, and headed straight to the press box. On the way there I passed several Philly employees, ranging from front office types to grounds crew. Everyone was wearing shirts that denoted the team’s recent success. Several “2008 World Series Champion” patches. Many more “2009 National League Champion” logos. Like all the ballparks I saw last week, the walls at Bright House had several framed pictures, plaques and displays depicting team history, but there were also photo collages of team employees, promotion days and the like. Who knows what it’s really like to be, say, an intern there, but the place gave the impression that it was a friendly place to work.
I got up to the box and set up my laptop. Lots of room and — what’s this? — Coke in the fridge. I know there are more important things in the universe than cola wars, but I’m a Coke guy, and I’ve been mildly bummed all week that every park had Pepsi in it. It’s not going to make me root for Philly to lose any less once the season starts, but if you’ve learned anything about me from these spring training dispatches, you’ve learned that little stuff makes a big impression on me.
Squared away in the press box I headed down to the clubhouse and the field.
The St. Louis Cardinals just announced that they have acquired minor league outfielder Jose Martinez from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations.
Martinez was the 2015 Pacific Coast League batting champ, hitting .384 in 98 games. This year he’s hitting .298/.356/.433 in 37 games. He doesn’t have a ton of power — he’s more of a doubles guy — and turns 28 this year so he’s not a prospect but he’s not chopped liver.
Meanwhile, Cash Considerations continues to be well-traveled. It must be hard for him to be dealt so many times a season. So much uncertainty and time away from his family. Feel for the guy.
We have a lot of day games today.
Steven Matz and Tanner Roark are both coming off of good starts against lesser teams and now face tougher tests. Tyler Duffey is coming off of a terrible start and faces the defending world champs. The Tigers are on a roll but Anibal Sanchez has still struggled a lot. He’ll try to get back on track against the weak-hitting Phillies lineup.
Jake Arrieta goes against a struggling Carlos Martinez in St. Louis. Arrieta has, obviously, been on a roll, with the only person coming particularly close to him being Clayton Kershaw. After Kershaw’s two-hit shutout the other day we’ll see if Arrieta can do the anything you can do I can do better trick. Though doing it against St. Louis is a taller order than Kershaw doing it against Cincy.
No matter what happens, God help these guys if they don’t talk to the media afterward.
New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark), 1:05 PM EDT, Nationals Park
Kansas City Royals (Dillon Gee) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 1:10 PM EDT, Target Field
Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez), 1:10 PM EDT, Comerica Park
Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez), 1:45 PM EDT, Busch Stadium
Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 2:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington
Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber) @ Chicago White Sox (Jose Quintana), 2:10 PM EDT, U.S. Cellular Field
San Diego Padres (James Shields) @ San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy), 3:45 PM EDT, AT&T Park
After Matt Harvey‘s bad start last night — his third in a row in a heretofore lost season — many speculated that he could be skipped, sent down or shut down. If that happens it won’t happen yet, however. The Mets just announced that Harvey will make his next start against the White Sox on Monday.
Matt Harvey could not be reached for comment, but I’m sure if he did comment it would be interesting and insightful and would totally change the manner in which he was handled by the New York press corps.
Indians DH/1B Mike Napoli has hit ten triples in his 11-year big league career, so sliding into third base after a long run is not something with which he has tons of experience. As such, the slide — and I use that term in the loosest sense possible — he executed — and I use that term as loosely as possible too — when he hit a triple last night against the White Sox was somewhat unconventional.
The best part, though, was that he didn’t even need to slide as the throw from the outfield was delayed due to the outfielder not getting a great handle on the ball and the relay throw which never came was dropped by the infielder. He could’ve gone in standing up.
Thank God he didn’t, though, because this was too good: