Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Royal Treatment: Live From Spring Training, Part IV

Unfortunately, we faced a late check-out and didn't arrive to the field until about the second inning. As we entered, we were greeted by Zack Greinke getting knocked for a run-scoring single, or in the general scheme of things: another Royals pitcher getting knocked around, which had almost become routine for us in this Spring Training 2008 experience.

However, after allowing a walk and a couple singles, Greinke settled down and pitched three more nice, scoreless innings. He wasn't overwhelmingly dominant like he was in his mid-to-late 2007 pseudo-closers role. However, he was hitting 92-94 on the radar gun, and hitting 70-74 consistently with a slow curve ball.

- It was vintage Zack Greinke: a nice combination of finesse and speed, fine spot-hitting, a good job of keeping the ball down, with a healthy amount of strikeouts.

- Offensively, I'm still underwhelmed by Tony Pena's approach at the plate. From a baserunning standpoint, he almost got picked off first again. His instincts on the basepaths were slow, it appeared.

- Mike Maroth struggled mightily with control and command early, as evidenced by his four walks in one inning. Quite simply, he must throw strikes and keep the ball down with his 87-89mph. fastball, which was exactly the velocity he displayed Sunday. The organization has announced that Maroth's injury has set him back to the extent that he will not make the 25-man cut out of camp. Hopefully, at age 30, he can find some remnants of the success he had for a brief period in the early-to-mid '00s as a #3/#4-level starter.

- Joey Gathright continues to race down the baselines. He should easily steal 40+ bases if given everyday playing time, and 25+ in his current projected role (slightly more than a fourth outfielder would be the consensus, at this point, IMO).

Unfortunately, I was unable to a) watch the Minor League games, b) capture the plethora of pictures I snapped on Thursday and Saturday, and c) stay for the entire game, to get a glimpse of the offensive and pitching substitutions.

Oh, well.

Overall, this trip was exciting, not just because of the baseball, but because of the "experience": in-depth political and Royals conversations, the swimming, the fine dining (and I do mean fine dining), and the Night Vision/safari-like desert expedition, which I will explain later.

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