AquaSox 6, Volcanoes 3
As I mentioned in my last post, I caught Everett’s win tonight. My real reason for going up there was to get an interview with Matt Tuiasosopo for the September issue of the Grand Salami, but I’m always happy to catch a game as well. I arrived about 4:40pm, and it was raining pretty hard. I checked in at the office to see if the game had been called already, and either way, if I could perhaps sneak in the interview before the players either needed to take BP or were told to go home.
Amy Randall, Everett’s media relations guru, told me the players were still around, waiting for the weather to clear up so they could take BP. She radioed up to another team employee to check on Tuiasosopo’s availability. Word comes back that manager Pedro Grifol has given me until 4:45 to complete the interview… or less than five minutes. I am to meet Tuiasosopo outside the clubhouse. Now, if you’ve ever been to Memorial Stadium you know that it doesn’t have clubhouses. In an arrangement you’d only find in minor league baseball, the players get dressed at the high school next door, then walk down to the stadium for games. For me, this meant I was roughly one block away (up hill) from my target with less than five minutes to make the walk and complete the interview.
Fortunately, he wasn’t outside waiting for me when I got up there. He emerged, along with most of the team, a few minutes later, presumably from some sort of team meeting. I introduced myself, we shook hands, and I conducted the interview. When Grifol and a team employee (presumably the guy Amy radioed earlier) started giving me the evil eye, I knew it was time to wrap things up. You can read the interview for yourself in next month’s Salami.
On to the game, which began on time and was played without delay thanks to the rain letting up about 5pm.
Upon arriving in the press box, I was greeted by the following:
I was also told that Misters Gillick and Bavasi might be in attendence. They never did show up, but I just read in our comments that Bavasi was in Tacoma instead. Mr. and Mrs. Pelekoudas were no-shows as well.
Nothing says fun like Western night at the old ballpark!
The managers exchange lineups and go over the ground rules with the umpires (yup, you’re seeing things correctly — only two umps in the Northwest League).
Matt Tuiasosopo takes his hacks in the on-deck circle.
The writer for a certain paper, which shall remain nameless, spend the entire game playing hearts on his laptop, surfing the ‘net or playing games on his cellphone.
The first 1,000 kids age 12 and under were given Rafael Soriano bobblehead dolls on their way into the park. After the game I saw a kid in the parking lot playing with his… and wouldn’t you know it, little Rafael’s right arm fell off at the elbow. It was the weirdest thing.
Everett starter Aaron Jensen was considered a pretty hot prospect when he was drafted last year. He fell to the 19th round due to signability concerns, but was considered a high-round pick. From what I saw he has pretty good stuff, though he’s quite erratic. His fastball ranged from 89 to 93 MPH, sitting primarily from 90-92. He also threw a big, overhand curveball which clocked in anywhere from 73 to 77. It was at its best the slower he threw it; when he overthrew it, it stayed up and didn’t break. Jensen also threw some changeups, which registered in the low- to mid-80’s. Finally, he threw a handful (as in, five or six all game) of sliders in the high-80’s. The slider is a new pitch for him this season, and it showed. Overall, he didn’t seem very comfortable with any of his non-fastball pitches. He also fell behind too many hitters by missing with his fastball early, which then didn’t allow him to set hitters up for his off-speed stuff.
I also had my first look at Phil Cullen, a former University of Utah hoops player. For a guy 6-9, he sure doesn’t generate much velocity — his fastball topped out at 84, and more often than not it was 81-82. He has a slow, deliberate motion and threw a ton of curveballs. He wasn’t comfortable at all pitching without a full windup. To be fair, he’s just coming back from a broken arm that has cost him almost two years of pitching.
Dave’s talked about Casey Craig in the past; I was very impressed by his approach at the plate. In his first at-bat, he walked on six pitches without taking the bat off his shoulder once. Next time up, his first swing was on a 2-2 pitch, lined up the middle for a single. Third at-bat, he hammered a 1-0 fastball into right for another single. He went down swinging in the 8th, but not before making the pitcher throw six pitches. He didn’t swing at any bad pitches and saw 18 pitches in his four plate appearances. Not too shabby.
Tuiasosopo isn’t nearly as patient, preferring to swing early in the count. To his credit, he didn’t swing at bad pitches, he just hit earlier in the count. He also drew a five-pitch walk in the 7th. For the game, he finished 2-3 with a pair of singles, a walk and two runs batted in. One positive sign, particularly for a young hitter, is that he likes to hit up the middle and go the other way, as opposed to many young hitters who try to pull everything thrown to them.
The star of the game to me was shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who looks like he could play major league defense tomorrow. Come to think of it, so could 2B Oswaldo Navarro. Shortstop, I mean, not second base. Cabrera made a phenomenal play in the 9th, going to his right, then dropping to one knee to play a wicked hop backhanded and up around his head. Without missing a beat, he turned his body — he’s still on one knee, mind you — and threw a perfect strike from deep at short to nail the runner by two steps. Navarro and Cabrera also combined on a couple of extremely fluid double plays. Good defense is fun to watch.
Time to wrap this up… it’s absolutely pouring outside right now. Woo! I’ve missed the rain!