Scenes from Spring Training: Camelback Ranch is pretty darn impressive


Camelback Ranch is a nice joint.  As far as player facilities and overall handsomeness of the place, it may be the best in the entire Cactus League.

Like the Dbacks and Rockies place out at Salt River, Camelback has large buildings behind the left and right field walls for the Dodgers and White Sox, respectively. Inside of each building is everything a training baseball team could want, from meeting rooms to training rooms to a comfortable and well-appointed clubhouse.  The chairs may not be quite as cushy as those in which the Rockies and Dbacks sit, but like I said last week, that may not be an altogether bad thing.

The game doesn’t start for a couple hours so who knows how that rolls yet — and I’m partial to the older, cozy joints for actual in-game experience anyway — but you can’t deny the sheer beauty of this ballpark.  My wife works in the architecture/design industry and this place looks a lot like the covers of the highbrow trade magazines floating around her office. Frank Lloyd Wright-meets-HOK-meets-that nice resort you stayed at in Sedona that year.

But rather than stay in the main part of the park and gawk I strolled over to White Sox Central to see what’s going down. You’ve heard my descriptions of these places all week, so I’ll skew photo tour:

That’s a sorta rare sight: an outfielder — Alejandro De Aza — working out with pitchers Chris Sale and Freddy Dolsi. Usually the pitchers and position players stay pretty separate. Separate lockers, separate stretching groups and everything.

That’s Lucas Harrell getting his pitching in.  I sat and watched him a long damn time. There’s nothing more enjoyable for me than to watch a pitcher throw up close. It’s just satisfying on so many levels. Speaking of throwing, this was overheard a few feet over:

Coach 1: Wait, wasn’t Burls supposed to throw? [meaning Mark Buehrle].

Coach 2: I thought so too, but he came out wearing basketball shoes this morning.

Coach 1: Huh. Guess he ain’t throwin’ this mornin’.

This was fun:

There are approximately 467 workout fields at this joint, but for some reason the Dodgers and White Sox were working out on the same one for a while this morning.  Talking to a guy with the Diamondbacks the other day he said that they see Rockies players so seldomly that he tends to forget they share a home with them.

I probably wasn’t supposed to take this picture — no photos inside the building, the sign says — but I couldn’t resist. The Sox have a long hallway with GIGANTIC photos all up and down it. Photos from the 2005 World Series, Buehrle’s perfecto, and just about anything else you can imagine.  The one in the foreground is a photo of Kenny Williams presenting Obama with a Sox jersey.

This was cool too. It hangs on the wall as you enter the White Sox team offices.  Though I sorta wish it was out someplace in the ballpark.  I bet if you polled 100 fans that only a couple would be able to tell you anything about Charlie Lau, and that’s kind of a shame.  Coaches are probably the most invisible men in baseball history.

Game time — my last game down here this year — is 1PM Mountain time.  I’m gonna go wander.

UPDATE: Barry Bonds tentatively plans to accept the Marlins hitting coach job

Barry Bonds

UPDATE: Bob Nightengale reports that while negotiations are not yet finalized, Barry Bonds “tentatively plans to accept the Marlins’ offer to be hitting coach with Frank Menechino.” Which is a good reminder that Menechino is still the Marlins’ hitting coach. Who would be the assistant and who would be the coach — or if they’d be co-coaches — is unclear.

12:00PM: The matter of Barry Bonds as the Marlins hitting coach has gone from “consideration” to “offer,” reports Bob Nightengale. The Marlins now await Barry Bonds’ response.

The biggest mystery in all of this is whether Bonds is actually interested. No one has reported that he was willing or even that there have been serious conversations between the Marlins and Bonds. That could be because Bonds, as has always been his practice, doesn’t talk too much to the media. Indeed, we learn more about him from his social media presence than anything reported about him. So it’s possible that Bonds and Jeff Loria have been in contact about all of this and he’s strongly considering it as well.

It’s also possible that this is all nothing and the Marlins are just trying to make a long shot happen.

MONDAY, 5:01 PM: This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Royals avoid arbitration with Tim Collins for $1.475 million

Tim Collins Getty
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Left-hander Tim Collins, who missed the entire 2015 season following Tommy John elbow surgery, will remain with the Royals after avoiding arbitration for a one-year, $1.475 million contract.

Collins was a non-tender candidate due to his injury and projected salary via arbitration, but the Royals are convinced he can bounce back to be a valuable part of the bullpen again in 2016 and beyond. He agreed to the same salary he made in 2015.

Prior to blowing out his elbow Collins posted a 3.54 ERA with 220 strikeouts in 211 innings from 2011-2014 and he’s still just 26 years old. He figures to begin 2016 in a middle relief role.

Joba Chamberlain signs with the Indians

Joba Chamberlain

When you think “Joba Chamberlain” and “Cleveland” you think of the then-Yankees phenom being attacked by midges in the 2007 ALDS. If you don’t remember that somehow, the video evidence is below.

But all of that changes now, as the Indians have just announced that they have signed Chamberlain to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league spring training. That’s no promise of a big league job, but the Indians did make at least one promise to him:


I can vouch for that. The Indians’ Triple-A team is in Columbus and we don’t have midges here.

Chamberlain split time with the Royals and the Tigers in 2015, posting a composite ERA of 4.88 in 36 games of mostly mopup work.

Mariners trying to trade Mark Trumbo by Wednesday

Mark Trumbo

Seattle making Mark Trumbo available has been known for a while now, but Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Mariners are trying to trade the first baseman/outfielder before Wednesday.

That’s the deadline to tender 2016 contracts to arbitration eligible players and with Trumbo set to make around $9 million via that process the Mariners would rather move on before any decision needs to be made. In other words: They don’t want to be stuck with him.

Trumbo has elite power, averaging 30 homers per 160 games for his career, but that power comes with a .250 batting average, poor plate discipline and a .299 on-base percentage, and sub par defense. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has already traded Trumbo once, dealing him to the Diamondbacks back when he was the Angels’ general manager, and now he’s working hard to part ways again.

Ken Rosenthal of reports that the Rockies are among the interested teams.