Posted on: February 27, 2012 5:40 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 5:50 pm
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Was it the Angels, or were their halos actually glowing a little brighter in the Arizona sun as they convened for their first full-squad workout with Albert Pujols on Monday?
"Absolutely, you can feel his presence," ace Jered Weaver said.
"There's a sense of excitement, with all the big names," second baseman Howard Kendrick said.
There wasn't any real drama to Monday's workout, unless you count the crush of fans down the right-field line near the team's clubhouse entrance that surged forward so intensely when Pujols stopped to sign that a couple of those in the front row were pinned dangerously against the fence. One cried out in pain.
Maybe that's why Pujols didn't stick around very long to sign.
But though there was nothing to write home about on the field, not even Pujols' live batting practice session against journeyman reliever Brad Mills, the Angels were marking this day on their calendars anyway.
And from Pujols' perspective, he didn't appear to lose his bearings at all.
"He was everywhere," veteran outfielder Torii Hunter said. "He was where he was supposed to be.
"He ran with us. He stretched with us. He hit in the right group.
"He was following Erick Aybar. Aybar knows where he's going. As long as he wasn't following Howie Kendrick. ..."
Kendrick chuckled when he heard that.
"Torii might be right," Kendrick said.
Following more than a decade of spring training with the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., Pujols said there really isn't a dramatic difference in the way St. Louis and the Angels conduct things. It's not like, say, there's a secret entrance to the infield at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
"Camps are the same," Pujols said. "There's nothing different."
The nuances will come later.
"It's going to be fun once we start right-side defense," said Kendrick, who will play next to Pujols on that side of the infield. "That's when we'll start interacting.
"I've got to figure out what his range is, how he likes to play. I think with the Cardinals, it looked like he went to his right pretty well. It didn't look like he was afraid to go to his right.
"If he does that, then that allows me to play up the middle more. And we can cover a lot more ground."
Weaver said he got to know Pujols some during the 2006 World Series, when Jered's brother, Jeff, pitched for the Cardinals.
"He's a great guy," Weaver said. "He's always been nice to me and my family. Plus, not only can he hit, but he's a Gold Glove first baseman [winning in 2006 and 2010].
"It's not going to take him long to fit in, I know that. It's exciting. This is my seventh spring here, and there's always been talk in the offseason of us going and getting some people, and we haven't always done it. But with him and C.J. Wilson and LaTroy Hawkins. ..."
The Angels did it this winter, and now they can't wait to get going.
And that scene with the fans as Pujols was leaving the field for the day?
"It also helps with the autograph hounds," Weaver said, chuckling. "They all run to him.
"It takes a little pressure off the rest of us."
Sunblock Day? Sure was, for now, at 78 degrees. But by the time the Angels were wrapping things up around 12:30 p.m., the wind gusts were already starting to howl. Strong winds are predicted to sweep through the desert tonight and knock the temperature down to a high of 62 Tuesday.
Likes: Looking forward to being a panelist this evening at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State in a forum discussing spring training coverage. Other panelists: Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Janie McCauley, the AP writer in San Francisco. ... Not only is Bobby Valentine going to be great as a manager in Boston, it's going to be great fun with him at the helm. Ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona had barely finished calling Boston's clubhouse beer ban a "PR move" on the radio Monday morning when Valentine fired back after the Sox workout. "Remember, you're getting paid over there for saying stuff," Valentine said. "You get paid over here for doing stuff. I've done both." Nice. ... Love Craig Counsell moving from the field to being a special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. And how about this: The other day, Counsell and Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke went together to scout a pitcher during a game at Arizona State University. ... Dodgers GM Ned Colletti in the crowd at the Oscars on Sunday night, with great seats not far behind Michelle Williams, who was up for Best Actress for My Week With Marilyn. ... Man, with Colletti and Athletics GM Billy Beane both attending the Academy Awards (Beane to support Moneyball, of course), next thing you know, Cubs GM Theo Epstein will become a regular at the Grammys. ... Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on Jimmy Fallon's show Monday and Friday nights this week. ... Love what I've heard of Wrecking Ball, the new Springsteen record out March 6. Some rock, some Seeger Sessions-style stuff, some gospel, some folk ... great mix.
Dislikes: Aw, Johnny Cash would have been 80 on Sunday. Happy birthday anyway to the Man in Black. Got a chance to walk through his tour bus a couple of years back when it was on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Very, very cool. Reading daughter Rosanne Cash's memoir, Composed, now. In turns, a very thoughtful, emotional and introspective work.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I go out on a party
"And look for a little fun
"But I find a darkened corner
"Because I still miss someone"
-- Johnny Cash, I Still Miss Someone
Posted on: October 20, 2010 7:14 pm
Nothing against the Yankees, understand.
But the Giants still love Bengie Molina.
"We're very, very excited for him," San Francisco starter Matt Cain said before the Giants and Phillies tangled in Game 4 here Wednesday. "We're loving watching him. It couldn't happen to a better person. He was great with us. I'm sure it's the same over there."
Cain and the other Giants hurlers pitched to Molina for nearly 3 1/2 years, from 2007 until Molina had to go when the Giants traded him to Texas on July 1 to make room for rookie Buster Posey.
Nothing personal, just the way baseball works.
Posey helped change the Giants season. And, as things turned out, Molina, 36, was the perfect addition for the Rangers.
Especially in New York Tuesday, when he crashed a three-run homer to help put away Game 4.
"Good for him," Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria said. "He's a good man. He deserves everything good.
"He helped a lot of guys in here."
One of them is Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval. Molina took Sandoval under his wing after Panda broke in with the Giants in 2008.
"He helped me with everything," Sandoval said. "Inside and outside of the field. How to deal with fans. People."
Molina entered Game 5 Wednesday hitting .417 against the Yankees in the ALCS with a .462 on-base percentage.
Likes: The Brewers could do worse than hiring Pat Listach as manager. He interviewed Wednesday. ... The pitching in this Giants-Phillies series has been a treat, just as expected. We've barely gotten over the Game 1 hype and here come Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay to hook back up for a Game 5 duel Thursday. ... Edgar Renteria may be at the end of his career, but he sure is going out strong. The guy is playing in this NLCS despite a completely torn biceps muscle in his left arm. Ouch. ... Credit Giants manager Bruce Bochy with maneuvering his lineup with the skill of an expert watch-man. ... Always a good thing when Clint Eastwood has a new movie out. Looking forward to seeing Hereafter.
Dislikes: First June Cleaver, now Mr. C. Tom Bosley, who will always be Happy Days' Howard Cunningham, passed away on Tuesday. Peace, Mr. C. I'll see ya on reruns. ... Look out, we're about to get Huey Lewis for the Game 5 national anthem here.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.
-- Johnny Cash, I Walk the Line
Posted on: July 6, 2009 8:17 pm
While Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro announced the other day that manager Eric Wedge definitely will be retained through the rest of this season (Wedge is signed through 2010), another manager is close to landing some security of his own.
San Diego and manager Bud Black, whose deal expires after the 2009 season, are having ongoing conversations about a contract extension, and the two sides are hoping to reach an agreement sometime this month. There are still significant details to be worked out, such as length of the extension and salary. But there is desire on both sides to get it done, leading to the current optimism that it will get done.
"They should," veteran outfielder Brian Giles said. "We've got a lot of young guys, and that comes with a lot of growing pains. I think he's done a good job with the team they've put together."
The economically downsizing Padres weren't expected to contend this season. But they've played far better than expected following last year's 101-loss disaster. And handed a roster far more versatile than last summer's slow-footed, non-athletic group, Black has been able to expand his managing chops.
"I've seen him grow as a manager," said Padres closer Heath Bell who, like Black, arrived in San Diego in 2007. "He's gotten a little better with strategy each year. I've seen him do a little more each year."
Bell especially complimented Black's style of privately asking veterans for input at times and keeping them apprised of what he's thinking. Padres management was especially impressed when the normally low-key Black blistered his team following a sloppy, 0-6 trip through Houston and Chicago in May.
Following that, the Padres responded with a season-high 10-game winning streak and won 12 of 15.
"I think it would be good for the organization," if Black is retained, Bell said. "I think it would be pretty positive."
Likes: Eric Wedge mostly is getting killed by Cleveland fans right now. But I will say this: Whether he eventually stays or goes, it is nice to see an organization (and by that, I mean general manager Mark Shapiro, especially) take some of the responsibility for what's gone wrong instead of simply blaming it all on the manager. Fans love to see skippers get the ax, and often it's warranted. But it's rarely that simple. ... Very classy move by the Chicago White Sox in dedicating a memorial at U.S. Cellular Field to the late, legendary baseball writer Jerome Holtzman. The case, in the lobby area of the park, even includes a cigar among the typewriter and assorted other artifacts from the career of Holtzman, who passed away a year ago this month. ... Netflix the two-disc DVD from the old Johnny Cash Show and, if you like music, you will not be disappointed. It's a greatest-hits sort of collection from Cash's old television show that ran in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and among the guests are the Creedence Clearwater Revival (you sure don't get a chance to see them perform every day), a very young Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong (he seems like he was a very sweet man), a very young James Taylor, Glen Campbell, Kris Kristofferson, Derek and the Dominos, Ray Charles and many, many more. Very enjoyable. And I didn't realize how eclectic that show was back in the day when it came to various musical styles.
Dislikes: Really, really bad news: Sean Penn is out of The Three Stooges movie. Awwww.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"It was 1989, my thoughts were short my hair was long
-- Kid Rock, All Summer Long
Posted on: February 21, 2008 5:24 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2008 5:25 pm
FORT MYERS, FLA. -- So I'm cruising across Metro Parkway toward the Red Sox camp in Fort Myers about 8 a.m. Thursday, still working on waking up, when I pass Danley St. and it starts again.
Within a split-second, I think of Kerwin Danley, the major-league umpire.
Twisted, I know. Whacked, I admit.
But I'm guessing I'm not alone here.
Anybody else out there have an issue with automatically associating street names with players?
Long ago, I'd be driving on I-5 in Southern California, my stomach would start growling and I'd know exactly where to exit for the In-N-Out burger: Steve Avery Parkway.
OK, truth be told, it probably isn't named for the old Atlanta left-hander. Especially because it's actual name is Avery Parkway.
A few springs ago I got turned around heading to dinner at Le Tub, a marvelous old gas station-turned-into-a-grill on Florida's intracoastal waterway.
Now I know exactly where to exit I-95. Sheridan St. How could I forget Pat Sheridan, who played outfield in the 1980s for Kansas City and Detroit?
On and on it goes. The exit leading off of I-75 in Florida that takes me to Minnesota's camp isn't Daniels Parkway, it's Kal Daniels Parkway. A tip of the cap to the Cincinnati outfielder who led the National League in on-base percentage in 1988.
The exit off of I-10 in Arizona that takes me to Peoria Stadium (home of the Mariners and Padres) is Bell Rd. -- which never fails to remind of wacky outfielder Derek Bell. He played with a number of teams, but I'll always fondly recall the time he took his uniform pants back to the Blue Jays equipment manager and asked for a longer pair.
"How long?" the equipment guy asked.
"For the whole season," Bell replied.
I could go on, but it's late afternoon and I'd sure like to get a run in before dinner and a night of prepping for tomorrow's stop, Twins camp.
Of course, when I drive back to the hotel from Boston's complex here, the route will take me on Fowler St., during which I'll no doubt think of Billy Martin's old pitching coach, Art Fowler. ...
Likes: Manny being Manny. ... Full squad workouts starting. ... Exceptional tribute to the late Bob Howsam, the highly respected former Reds executive who passed away a few days ago, from Sparky Anderson in this piece. ... Nino's Pizza and Italian Ristaurante at Daniels Crossing. Had an outstanding pizza -- New York thin crust -- from there last night, and meals there remain one of the highlights of the Florida tour. Graziano and his staff serve terrific meals with impressively fresh ingredients.
Dislikes: Fort Myers traffic has grown exponentially since I first started coming down here in 1994. It's the old joke -- Daniels Parkway, one of the main thoroughfares, is called a Parkway because you spent a whole lot of time parked on the asphalt. ... Physical exams. Everybody goes through them, of course -- such as Boston on Thursday -- but they really throw the day's schedule off.
Sunblock day? Little rain in the morning but the sun came out shortly after 9 a.m.
Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:
"In the garbage disposal of you dreams I've been ground up, dear
-- Johnny Cash, Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart