One of the first rules of minor league spring training is “Don’t Trust The Schedule.”
I wrote yesterday that the Rainiers were set to host Oklahoma City in a Triple-A game today.
Well, after I filed that post I spent some time with a number of Mariners minor league coaches and found out that the Rangers had cancelled today’s minor league games. So instead, the M’s had their Triple-A and Double-A teams play one another on Field 3 – one of four fields on the minor league side of the Peoria sports complex.
This intersquad game really featured players from all levels of the farm system. Several major league players got work in, and some younger prospects appeared, too.
The game itself was typical for minor league camp, but might confuse some fans. First, there is no scoreboard. Don’t ask me who won. Second, not all innings had three outs. If a pitcher got three fast outs, he was sometimes asked to face another hitter or two. And if a pitcher had trouble getting the third out, a coach would wave his arms and the teams would change sides before three outs were recorded.
OK, here’s what I saw:
- Doug Fister started for the Triple-A group and pitched four innings, allowing nothing but a solo long home run to power-hitting prospect Carlos Peguero (and it should be noted that Peguero was batting after three outs had already been recorded in the “inning.”). Fister is still likely to make the Mariners rotation, but he pitched in the intersquad game so the M’s could take advantage of a more controlled environment.
- Mariners outfielder Ryan Langerhans batted in every half-inning. It was certainly odd to see hitters approach the plate from two different dugouts during the same half-inning.
- M’s reliever Shawn Kelly also got work in, pitching for the Class-AA group.
- Third base is going to be interesting for the Rainiers – especially if Matt Tuiasosopo ends up making the Mariners. Matt Mangini, who had a strong finish at Class-AA West Tennessee last year, played third base with the Triple-A group today. Alex Liddi, the M’s minor league player of the year at Class-A High Desert last year, played for the AA group.
- There were some interesting match-ups that you just never see. For example, top pitching prospect Michael Pineda faced Liddi in a couple of at-bats. Give the win to Pineda – he got Liddi on a fly to center, and a weak grounder to short.
- Travis Denker has a chance to make the Rainiers roster. Playing second base, Denker made a diving catch to rob 2009 first round pick Nick Franklin of a base hit.
- Johan Limonta played for the AA group and executed a perfect hit-and-run, grounding a single through the open right side of the infield.
- Yusmeiro Petit looked sharp for three innings. In one inning he recorded outs so rapidly that he retired five batters before the teams changed sides.
- Andy Baldwin excelled in his role of ball boy. Baldwin pitched yesterday and has been working as a starter with the Triple-A group so far this spring.
- Chris Seddon and Steven Shell charted pitches in the direct sunlight sitting behind home plate. Both have been working as starters alongside Baldwin this spring. Shell enjoyed his winter in Venezuela, where he was glad to get some innings in after injury ended his 2009 season.
- Former Rainiers pitcher Robert Rohrbaugh is working with the Class-AA group. He said his shoulder feels better than it has in the last two years, and he might be a reliever this year.
- While walking around the complex I saw Ken Griffey Jr.’s practical joke on catching instructor Roger Hansen – which was detailed and photographed by Ryan Divish of The News Tribune here. It really has to be seen to be believed – a larger-than-life “tribute” to one of the most hilariously profane people I have ever met.
The intersquad game led to an early finish today, so now it’s time to enjoy Arizona for an evening. Tomorrow I’ll be trekking to some place called “Maryvale,” where I’ll drive around aimlessly until I find the minor league complex. The Rainiers are supposed to be playing Nashville out there at 1:00… if the schedule doesn’t change!