I was lucky enough to be able to spend this past weekend in the Phoenix area and catch a few Cactus League games. It was a great experience that every baseball fan should try if they haven’t already. Here’s some of the things I saw while in Arizona.
Corey Seager deserves the hype
The Dodgers-Reds game I went to on Friday was a little disappointing, since a lot of the starters for both teams were given a day off. The bright side of that, though, was that I finally got to see a lot of the hyped Dodger prospects in person for the first time, namely a certain #1 shortstop prospect. I totally get the Cory Seager hype now – the dude looked natural at shortstop despite all the talk about how he’s uncommonly tall for the position. Heck, he and Darrell Sweeny looked better up the middle than Justin Turner and Darwin Barney, who both seemed pretty rusty. They turned a slick double play right after they were inserted into the game, and it was Seager’s sac fly (that scored Sweeny) in the ninth that tied the game and salvaged what was looking like a loss for the boys in blue. Seager looked pro-ready both on the field and at the plate, and I can’t wait to see him suit up at Dodger Stadium. I have a feeling that will happen sooner rather than later.
The Padres pitching staff is for real
The Rangers couldn’t buy a hit on Saturday, and ended up getting shut out by six Padre pitchers led by Andrew Cashner. Cashner looked great in four innings of two-hit ball, his longest start in a very impressive spring so far. He didn’t get a single strikeout, which was a little worrisome, but he still showed great command over his pitches. The rest of the staff looked just as dominant, if not more so. Jason Lane got two strikeouts, and the relievers that followed him didn’t allow a hit. Heck, even Dale Thayer looked good in his 1-2-3 inning that notched his first spring training save. The pitching was especially important since many of the Padres’ winter acquisitions – Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Will Middlebrooks, and Derek Norris – did nothing to help the offense (the Padres’ only scoring was done by their minor leaguers the eighth inning). If Saturday was any indication, this staff will be the backbone of San Diego’s 2015 playoff push.
Prince Fielder is back and that’s a very good thing
Admit it – you missed Prince Fielder. After so many years of SportsCenter highlights showing him mash homer after homer before returning to the dugout to goof off with his teammtes, Fielder was off the field for most of last season after a neck injury sidelined him in May. And, let’s face it, in the rapid sports news cycle, we forgot about him. Good news: He’s back. Seeing him back in action for the Rangers on Saturday reminded my just how much I missed seeing this guy during the season. As he was warming up during the first inning, some Padres near where I was sitting started yelling at him, calling him “Cecil” after his former big-league father. He responded by getting Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre to fake throwing a ball right at the main heckler. Later, he tried to catch Justin Upton off guard by stretching a single into a double. Upton, who had slowly fielded the ball in shallow left, threw the big guy out easily. Still, it was fun to see Prince motoring down the basepaths.
Semi-Rusty Mike Trout is still scary
A lot of the big league stars I saw over the weekend looked like they were still shaking off their winter rust. The only one who didn’t? Mike. Freaking. Trout. The dude looked relaxed as ever, but he played like it was midseason. Trout went 2-2 with a walk in three plate appearances, scoring two of the Angels’ three runs. After singling in the fourth inning, he stole second after White Sox catcher Giovanni Soto overthrew Alexi Ramirez on a pitchout. He then promptly stole third and scored on David Freese’s groundout. Pretty dang impressive, even for a guy who just unanimously won the American League MVP. I expect even greater things for Trout in this upcoming season.
The White Sox are looking like contenders
They really do. I feel like this team was overlooked during the offseason, mainly because of the flashy moves that the Cubs made. So let’s look at what the South Siders have done: They got Jeff Samardjiza to form a 1-2 punch with Chris Sale. They got Adam LaRoche to replace a retiring Paul Konerko. They got Melky Cabrera to anchor the outfield. And they stole David Robertson from the Yankees to anchor the back end of the bullpen. Throw in an already promising roster with Sale, Jose Abreu, Gordon Beckham, and Alexi Ramirez among others, and it’s not too far-fetched to envision the White Sox on top of the AL Central. Think about it – the Tigers are starting to fade, the Royals made a splash last October but nobody knows if they can stay consistent, the Indians still have plenty of holes on their roster, and the Twins are in a transition year. Based on what I saw on Sunday, I think the White Sox lineup has a real shot at carrying them back to October. They teed off on the Angels’ Hector Santiago and Houston Street, scoring four runs in two innings against them. They also looked very disciplined at the plate. These guys should be scaring the heck out of everyone else in the AL Central.
Some lessons I learned…
Baseball is,was, and always will be the greatest game in the world
Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.