Spring training games finally came to an end today about 2:00 in the afternoon with the Pirates vs. Phillies game on Roberts Field at the Carpenter Complex. Another great 90 degree day but that cold java chip frappuccino after the game at a near by coffee shop always makes it worthwhile. Don’t quit remember the score of today’s game but it has been a long spring training down here in Clearwater. But at least it is finally over. It’s been along time for us since catchers and pitcher reported back in mid-February.
The boys of spring hurried by Baseball Betsy and I as the game ended after only seven innings. We wanted the full nine. Well, not really. We need a week off to get ready for the start the Gulf Coast League at high noon over at the Yankees facility a week from Monday and then the home opener with the Yankee No. 1 team again on the following Tuesday.
As always we met some nice people today and all spring long. Today there was Mike and Parker. Mike’s two year old son is always on the prowl for his favorite player pitcher Feliberto Sanchez who he calls “Berto”. Veteran minor league fan Mark stopped by updating us on his plans to make his annual pilgrimage through the Phillies farm system this summer. Then the talkative fan Jose showed us his latest photography equipment and then he was off to take some final photos of the boys of spring.
It’s always nice to get a “hello” from parents of the players who read the Blog. Today, we met the parents of rehabbing pitcher Calvin Rayburn. He is down working on his new over the top release point. He was a side arming closer for Lakewood to start the season. They report no loss of velocity for Calvin in his new delivery and they expect him back soon with Lakewood.
But it is always about the players. Pitcher Seranthony Domiquez mentioned to us that he saw his video getting rehabbing Blue Jay major leaguer Dioner Navarro to ground out on the Baseball Betsy Youtube channel. Franklyn Kilome updated us on his latest start that we missed. He told us he struck out eight in four innings in that one. Franklyn is one of the most fascinating persons we have spoken with this spring. He will pitch in Williamsport to start the season and tells us has a sister who lives in New York city can watch him pitch when the Crosscutters play on Staten Island and at Coney Island in Brooklyn. Also we watched the game with the gregarious pitcher Jose Travaras who was assigned to run down foul balls in the game. He is a regular at all the Threshers home games.
Not all of our Dominican friends speak or understand English yet, but they were learning with nightly English classes this spring. With the help of Feliberto Sanchez we became friends with pitchers Felix Paulino and Edgar Garcia during the spring. Sanchez tells them to speak English when around us. He tells them this is the only way they will learn English. I will not forget our good friend Elniery Garcia who now speaks English well and is in the Lakewood starting rotation. He told us last year English was hard for him to learn since no one in his family back in the Dominican speaks any English.
On the field we watched Paul Clemens pitch a strong inning on a rehab assignment down from Lehigh Valley. Mitch Gueller pitched three strong innings as did Denton Keys. These two will probably pitch at the top of the rotation for the Williamsport Crosscutter. Luis Encarnacion looks ready to have a big season with the bat as he continues to square up the ball in many of his at bats . Venn Biter who has been hampered by injury this spring had a nice line drive single to center. Last Saturday we saw him and Encarnacion hit a long home run in a game at the Blue Jays Complex. Centerfielder Carlos Duran hit the ball hard today as well.
The 2015 spring training season was officially over today. The players assigned to Williamsport will be flying to Philadelphia on Monday and then bussing it to Williamsport to meet up with their house parents and get ready to start the season. The New York-Penn League opens on Friday. Those players remaining will be playing with the GCL Phillies of the Gulf Coast League with home games at the Complex. In the meantime the Carpenter Complex this coming week will busy as the recently drafted players agree to terms and report for workouts and future assignments.
These boys of spring are on the edge of glory. Some will make it. Others will not. Baseball Betsy and I feel privileged to be part of supporting them on their baseball journey and thank them for allowing us to be a part of it, as small as it may be.