Day 4: Boy, you’re an awfully big catcher
PEORIA, Ariz. — Greetings friends, hope you’re enjoying the Padres coverage here and at, of course, Padres.com. I’m glad to have so many of you — at least according to the WordPress.com stats. So unless it’s my mother hitting refresh ever three minutes, I truly appreciate it.
Anyway, back to baseball.
Not sure if you went to FanFest or not but there was one point where Huston Street and Andrew Cashner were playing catch on the field during the event. At one point, Cashner — who stands all of 6-foot-6, dropped down as if he was a catcher for Street. Street later returned the favor. Well, that happened here Wednesday morning. Nothing really to note here other than you don’t see a 6-6 relief pitcher who can throw 100 mph drop down into a full catchers squat.
Let’s be honest, though, Cashner’s arm is why he’s here. He’s shown an electric fastball in each of his first two sessions off the mound, without too much effort (or what doesn’t appear to be too much effort). He’s fun to watch. It’s that ball-exploding-out-of-the-hand thing. And, consider, that he isn’t trying to throw hard, not now at least.
Anyway, another fairly quiet day here. More position players showing up but mostly the same routine of pitchers fielding their position while also throwing off the mound. Tomorrow, the starting pitchers get their second crack at the bullpen.
By the way, I’ve posted some video of Street, Brad Brach and Cashner throwing off the mound today. Still new to the video thing, so be kind. But it at least shows you a little something.
So what else happened Wednesday?
— We talked to second baseman Orlando Hudson, who called the 2011 season the most trying of his professional career. He had the two stints on the disabled list and struggled offensively. More on Padres.com but Hudson said he’s looking toward a better 2012. He’s earning $5.5 million and the Padres need him on the field and need him to be better with the bat this season.
— Talked to reliever Cory Burns about his funky delivery. I profiled him on Padres.com where he talks more about his unique delivery. Think Luis Tiant or Hideo Nomo. Burns said he switched to this delivery after a disastrous freshman season at the University of Arizona in 2006. Here is a little snippet from my story.
“My freshman year, I was terrible. I had terrible numbers, walked a bunch of people, still threw hard but I had no command,” Burns said. “[Head coach Andy] Lopez told me we had to do something different for me to be able to stay there.”
Anyway, take a look at Burns Minor League statistics — crazy good. Deception and location can take a guy a long way. I don’t think Burns will make the bullpen out of Spring Training but I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him in San Diego at some point this season.
— There are 29 pitchers in camp and most likely have a realistic viewpoint of where they’ll start the season — on the Major League roster or in the Minor Leagues. Sometimes, it’s not nearly as clear-cut as that. There have been a few occasions in manager Bud Black’s first five seasons when he has called a pitcher into his Peoria office and told the pitcher that he was headed to the Minor Leagues and the player feigned genuine surprise. Black has made it a point during the morning meetings to tell players that a lot of the pitchers in camp won’t make the 25-man roster. But, as he said, that doesn’t mean he and the staff aren’t watching: “Every day is a test,” he said.
— In Black’s morning meeting with reporters — we usually get him for 10-15 minutes, sometimes longer if he loses track of time — he talked some about velocity and how unimportant it is early in camp (to him, at least). There are no radar guns in camps because he doesn’t want pitchers thinking they need to be throwing harder. That will come later, not during the first week of camp. Black has been around the game long enough to know, roughly, what kind of velocity he is watching. He calls it “Eyedar” … though said he “heard it from someone else. I didn’t make it up.” But Black said he can usually come within a few miles per hour of what a pitcher is throwing.
— Kind of a fun note here. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s any number of front office staff watching these workouts, from GM Josh Byrnes to assistant general manager A.J. Hinch to others. Well, I saw Padres professional scout Chris Bourjos today and talked to him briefly. You might recognize that last name, as he’s the father of Angels outfielder Peter Bourjos, who led the American League with 11 triples last season. Bourjos scouts the NL West, Pacific Coast League and California League during the season but still gets a chance to watch his son play on occasion.
“I try to get to as many games as possible,” Bourjos said. “In Spring Training, I might try to match-up my teams with the Angels or there might be a night game or two I’m able to catch. And with television and the iPad, you can see a lot of games.”
That’s it for today. More coverage, as always, at Padres.com.
Also, have you seen the website: Bad Spring Training Twitpics? We’ve all been a little guilty of sending these, me included. It’s fun and reminds us all that we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously.
One last one: Do yourself a favor a pick up the new Sleigh Bells disc/download/whatever. Good, good stuff.
Corey Brock, MLB.com