As much as I love the ice and cold of the great Midwest, it’s time to leave that nonsense behind for a spell. As you read this, I am en route to Phoenix. Spring training, my friends. Cactus-style. I’ll be there until a week from Friday.
While I’m in Arizona I’ll be taking in baseball in some form or another at all times. Today is a travel day, but I’m going to loiter around a camp tomorrow — haven’t decided which one yet — and I’ll take in games every day between Friday when the Giants and Diamondbacks kick things off in Scottsdale through next Thursday. In the mornings before games there will be more loitering about the practice fields and clubhouses. It’ll be a pip!
For those of you who followed my exploits in Florida last spring, it will be a lot like that. I’m going to try to be a little more multi-media about it this year, however, so by all means, follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be throwing up real time observations, photos and stuff before I censor myself and edit them into a more respectable, reflective and comprehensive writeup for the blog the next morning.
Oh, and if you happen to be cactusing too, by all means, leave a comment or drop me a line with any tips, insights, happenings or observations of your own. Perhaps then we can find a way to leverage the power of HBT Nation into something greater than the rambling first person recollections of a recovering lawyer with an expense account, a flask, a laptop and a pocket camera. Synergy, don’t you know.
Talk to you again when I get to AZ.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.