Willie Bloomquist in the WBC - Mike Ehrmann
Two wins yesterday for the D-backs runs their spring record to within a game of .500. Meanwhile, there'll be a new winner of the WBC, our manager spoke positively about Trevor Cahill and news broke that the woman who helped inspire The Natural has died.
Quotes of the day
"Trevor threw the ball really well, the best he's thrown it all spring. I thought the last inning was his best inning. He threw two really nice curveballs that inning and then some changeups. Just made more strikes today and had better command of where he wanted to throw as well."
-- Kirk Gibson
- "I felt my location was fine, and that I was a bit unlucky with some ground balls that found holes. We turned a couple double plays, which was key for the game and in preparation for the regular season. When you get in trouble you tend to feel the pressure and bear down a little more. I feel I'm comfortable in those situations, and it's good to come out of them clean."
-- Patrick Corbin
- "It (WBC) was a great experience, a lot of fun. But I have a season to prepare for. I have to get going. I need to get some game action. I was a little draggy today from all the travel, but I need to start getting into games and start getting the feel. That’s what it’s all about, seeing pitching, defensive situations. Just being out there and starting to get comfortable again. That’s what spring is all about."
-- Willie Bloomquist
Cahill the staff ace?
Kirk Gibson seems to think it's possible, saying Cahill hopefully "will be up around 20 wins and 200-plus innings." Certainly, if he pitches like today, blanking Los Angeles for five innings, it wouldn't be much of a stretch. Gibson reckons the key is finding repeatable mechanics: "Sometimes he tries to overmaneuver it. He gets in trouble when ... he tries to make it go a little extra. He gets out of whack with it. His release point changes too much." Cahill's goal? "Getting that sinker to the glove side of the plate. When I can do that eight out of 10 times, that’s when I know I have found it... Before the season starts, I want to get to where I feel I can throw to that side whenever I need it."
Stryker Trahen: Catcher in the Raw
Nick Piecoro writes about one of our leading prospects behind the plate, who acknowledges he still has defensive skills to pick up. Trahen said, "Hopefully, my catching will catch up to my bat eventually. Hopefully it’s going to be soon. I have a lot to work on, though." There's suggestions in the piece that the future may involve a move to another spot, but given Trahen won't even turn 19 until April, and we've got Miguel Montero locked up for the foreseeable future, it seems a little early to write him off as a catcher. Catching co-ordinator Carlos Hernandez thinks, "He just needs some time. He’s so young. He’s a hard worker and he’s a smart kid, and that’s important."
World Baseball Classic
There will be a new name on the WBC trophy this year, at the Japanese were bundled out in the semi-finals, losing by a score of 3-1 to the unfancied Puerto Rico team, who had to win two elimination games to reach this point in the tournament. A two-run homer by Alex Rios proved the margin of victory for PR, and Mario Santiago held the Japanese scoreless for 4.1 innings, leaving for precautionary reasons after suffering forearm stiffness. However, the Puerto Rican bullpen proved up to the task, and Japan got only two runners past first until the eighth inning. Puerto Rico now await the winners of the Dominican Republic-Netherlands match-up later today.
- In the Cactus League, offense of the day went to Oakland, who scored 12 runs on 15 hits against the Cubs, putting up a six-spot in the eighth. The best pitching came from the Royals, who improved their record to 17-4, with a five-hit shutout of the White Sox, winning 10-0. They got 18 hits, while starter Luis Mendoze allowed four hits in five innings.
- It has been confirmed that Ruth Ann Steinhagen died in Chicago at the age of 83. Who? Well, she's the woman who, as a 19-year-old, lured major-league player Eddie Waitkus to her hotel room and shot him. The incident inspired Bernard Malamud to write The Natural, which became a rather good baseball movie. Waitkus declined to press charged, and Steinhagen all but vanished into obscurity. Her death took place in December, but was only recently confirmed.
- "The nation's newest elite baseball players are courted like free agents, flown cross-country for big games and featured on TV. Bidding wars break out over the most coveted stars." Oh, and we're talking about 8-14 year olds. There's something very screwed-up about all that.