Spring Has Sprung, the Pitches Are Zinging and the Bats are in Bloom

Silly as it sounds, after Sunday’s game I felt somewhat deflated. But two better spring training outings for the Angels was all it took to return the buoyancy to my mood. First and foremost, the regular pitchers and most of the core bullpen candidates both days looked good – a little rust here and there, a couple of instances where the pitch placement could still use a little work, but on the whole very good.

I got to see the debut of our most likely new outfield configuration – all centerfielders, all the time with Vernon Wells in left, speedy Peter Bourjos in center and Torii Hunter in right. I loved it! Between the three of them they cover a lot of ground and seem to work well together. Bourjos seemed to have a little trouble calling off Wells at first, but he came around much like he did last season with Torii and Bobby Abreu.

I think I have now seen the real Mike Trout and I too am impressed. That was a heck of a catch at the end of this afternoon’s game and he made it look absolutely effortless. And when he does get the bat on the ball, you can see the power there. I like this all centerfielder outfield idea and think Trout will fit in just fine when the time comes to replace one of the centers currently in the corners.

We’re nailing the double plays!! One of the first indications I had that things were amiss in 2010 was how few and far between the jaw dropping double plays, once an Angels hallmark, had become. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see the guys nailing that 6-4-3 or 4-6-3 again! Also, the fielding so far has been error free, which is especially nice to see so early in spring training.

We have bats! Everyone who should be hitting has had at least one good solid hit in the last three games (remember, each player in question has only played about one full game worth of innings in those three games) except Torii, and Torii’s bat usually doesn’t really heat up until late April. I would jump for joy if it happened earlier, of course, but I’m not going to panic when it doesn’t. Yes, this does mean that Jeff Mathis, Peter Bourjos, Erick Aybar and even Brandon Wood all had hits – Wood’s a hard hit double in his spring training debut today. I don’t know if this will last in all cases but it sure was good to see.

Certain old bad habits were still evident. Eighth and ninth inning excitement: Monday’s game against the A’s was 8 to 2 Angels going into the eighth inning and the final score was 8 to 7. Stranding runners on the bases: seven runners were left in scoring position in today’s game against the Reds. Failing to strike again: today’s game was another score in the first inning and never again outing. Aybar’s base running: he’s like the little girl with the little curl and today’s game was one of the horrid outings. But I’m not really concerned about this, this early on. These observations, good and bad, are all based on one two-game snapshot and I think early spring training games, where the pitchers change every one to two innings and all of the regular position players are out of the game by the 6th inning, are not the best representation of how the regular season will progress. I’m just grounding myself by taking note of the worrisome things along with the hopeful ones.

* * * * *

The baseball fever is so thick in my house that my husband actually convinced me to go play catch with him in the park the other day. Seth never played baseball growing up, not beyond the usual neighborhood pick-up games. I played softball in the local park and rec ponytail league from t-ball up through the beginning of high school but I haven’t touched a glove with any intent beyond catching a ball at batting practice in more than 15 years. So it was odd that he would ask and odder still that I would accept. I think that maybe seeing all of the young minor leaguers play a day game in such a small setting brings more nostalgia for the games you played in your own youth than a regular baseball game.

Playing catch? It’s not like riding a bicycle. Not after more than 15 years anyway. My arm is so much spaghetti, it’s embarrassing and, after this much time, it actually stings to catch the ball bare handed. But I’m still reasonably reliable with the glove and was even able to jump and stretch high to catch a few like back in the old days. And the unmistakable thunk of a perfect throw landing solidly in his glove the few times I managed a good one is absolutely addicting – childhood, laughter and fun all bottled up in a single sound. Yes, I will do this again. It was a lot of fun and I am way too stubborn not to give it another try. Besides, I’m not talking trash here but, um, I’m not the one with the sore shoulder today…he he he.

13 Comments

You played catch with your husband? Spaghetti arm or not, would you be available to pitch for the Yankees? LOL

http://www.janeheller.com/confessionsblog

Congrats on making the front page! That’s so exciting! :) Playing catch sounds like a great way to gear up for the excitement of regular season, which is finally just a few weeks away.

Kristen,
We are back from an awesome four day weekend! And I got Mike Scioscia to sign an old Dodger picture!
The only time I play catch is before the Dodgers Women Baseball clinic but you know what? that was a Jamie baby and not sure if the Dodgers will have that again.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Jane – LOL! Now pitching for the Yankees, former ponytail softball second baseman, Kristen! Yeah, I think that even if Bartolo doesn’t improve one iota over his spring training debut, you’re better off with him. :)
Westcoastgirl – Thank you! I was really surprised and pleased. It is a fun way to gear up for the season – only 28 more days!
Emma – That is fantastic! I bet he smiled when he saw the old photo. I’m glad you guys had fun. A women’s baseball clinic sounds like a great event…though at present I would be embarrassed to throw so weakly in one. :)
Kristen
This is a very simple game…

I get my daughters out all the time in the summer to take whiffle ball batting practice and run around the “bases”, but to actually play catch I gotta go over to the neighbors house and borrow their kid. It’s cool that you went out to “have a catch”
http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

Looks like the Angels have the outfield all set. I wish Trout the best and will be following his career.
Keep loosening that arm up. You never know….and that’s from a fellow second baseman. The kids and I have been going to the local college to throw the ball around the gym there. It’s amazing my three-year-old can hit live pitching already. Keep having fun this spring..
–Mike
‘Minoring In Baseball’
http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

Oh man something as simple as playing catch!!! Still a bit too cold for that here… so envious of SoCal right now and that lovely weather… and Aybar as the “little girl with the little curl”… all makes sense now ;-)
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

I’ve played with my kids a few times when the weather has permitted us here in southern Illinois. Next time out record some video of it and post it on here!

Ron

http://strictlycubsbaseball.mlblogs.com/

As the parent of a 12-year-old ballplayer, I get pressed into action all the time when Dad isn’t home yet. I guess it’s a good thing I played softball as well growing up, and thankfully “don’t throw like a girl” (my husband’s words). Though I was a little sore after our first outing this past weekend! Pennsylvania winters don’t lend themselves to year-round baseball. :-(
Sue
Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

Kristen,

Your Angels outfield is just ‘sick.’ And I mean that in the good way people younger than me say it. Hunter has always had a cannon of an arm, Bourjos is like the road runner tracking down ball in center and Vernon never makes a bad read in the outfield. Trust me, being a fan that has watched him for several years, he is an extremely intelligent outfielder. He might be losing a step, or two, but he will handle LF no problem. And make it look easy.

http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com

Russel – Whiffle ball batting practice is awesome. I’ll bet your daughters have a blast!
Mike – Ah hah, another second baseman. Cool! Your three-year old can already hit live pitching?! Wow, it sounds like you are raising a future ballplayer for sure!
Jeff – Yeah, Southern California weather is definitely one of the better parts about living here. Re: Aybar. I’m hoping this year he’s very, very good indeed.
Ron – No, there will be no videos, LOL. As I told my husband no cameras. No blooper reels. This is not going on Facebook.
Sue – Thanks for dropping by my blog! That’s neat that you play catch with your son and it sounds like you do a lot better than me. Yeah, SoCal weather is hard to beat for year-round baseball.
Welikeroy – Sick is definitely what I am hoping for! There is so much potential out there, it’s bound to be a fun year. It’s nice to hear good things about Wells from a long time Blue Jays fan. I am pretty happy with the Wells trade all told. His contact is stupid expensive, yes, but if he helps the team, who cares?
Kristen
http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/

I think it is funny how we get so happy–or sad–over each game during a time that means little. Spring just doesn’t matter, yet it hits hard (for me) to see my boys get pasted by the lowly Pirates 2 out of 3 games! I don’t get it! How could they be so bad? Then I remember that I’m not supposed to care. Glad to see that I’m not the only one who gets up or down with these spring games…

http://raysfanboy.mlblogs.com/

You’ve hit the nail on the head RaysFanBoy. It’s not supposed to matter but it sure hits hard anyway. I think it’s because it’s the beginning and we’re all hoping for some sign that the regular season will be just the way we want it to be. I’m glad to know _I’m_ not the only one. Thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting!
Kristen
This is a very simple game…

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