Scenes from Spring Training: Boppin’ around the Indians and the Reds

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The Reds and Indians share the Goodyear complex.  The team clubhouses and practice fields are about a half mile down the road from the ballpark. Neither the Reds nor the Indians take their BP or infield in the main park, even on game day, so I’ve spent most of my morning driving and walking long distances around the joint.

It’s quite new — it opened in 2009 — so it’s a lot like the hella-complex out in Salt River Fields in terms of its modernity and conveniences and sheer space.  It does lack that high-polish shine of Salt River, however, and I think in some ways this is a good thing. I still have this lingering feeling that the clubhouses in Salt River are too comfortable. This place seems like a nice balance between the spartan locker rooms of the old places and the VIP lounge-feel the Diamondbacks enjoy.

Or maybe it makes no difference. For what it’s worth, my observation of the Indians’ clubhouse today was that it was young and loose and fun. If the Indians are going to be one of the worst teams in baseball this season, no one has told them about it.  Especially Carlos Santana who, like Pablo Sandoval the other day, was bopping around the place with his headphones on, shirt off, singing and dancing like no one was looking. Must be a catcher/corner infielder thing.

From there I moved a quarter mile further down the road to the Reds’ place. By the time I got there they had left the clubhouse and had made their way out to the practice fields. I stood against a fence near where they were playing long toss.  Ryan Hanigan missed one and it hit me on the arm on one hop. Amateur hour, starring Calcaterra. I may or may not have heard a chuckle from the guy standing next to Hanigan.

That aside — and I can’t talk about it anymore on the advice of my attorney (Ow! Ow! The pain! The suffering!) — the Reds workouts were fun.  Dusty Baker was loose and joking. The Reds beat guys — including Mark Sheldon of and John Fay of the Cincy Enquirer — were nice dudes.  The coaches and the team employees were all cool.  Just a relaxed bunch.  But effective. I couldn’t tell you what makes for a crisp set of infield drills vs. a not-so-crisp set, but Baker clapped his hands and yelled “good infield, good infield” after it was over.

Then it was back to the ballpark.  On the way there I decided to study this statue that sits outside in some detail:

I don’t know either.  The plaque at its base says that it’s called “The Ziz,” by Donald Lipski. It also says it’s “named for the giant mythological bird.”  Here’s an explanation of the mythological bird. It’s something out of Jewish mythology. Annie Savoy taught me, however, that there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and 108 stitches on a baseball, so at least as far as this statue is concerned I’m all kinds of confused, theologically speaking.

Well, not too concerned, for I have perfected Zen:

Sorry to do that again. It just seemed right. And no, that stuff on my shoe was not anything intended for Dusty Baker. It’s wet warning track clay. I can think of nothing I’d rather have sticking to the bottom of my shoe.

An hour or so until game time.

Astros stave off AL West elimination, beat the Diamondbacks

Colby Rasmus, Gary Pettis
AP Photo

Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.

Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.

The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.

If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.

If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.

Video: Kelby Tomlinson slides in for an inside-the-park home run

Kelby Tomlinson
AP Photo
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Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.

Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.

It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.