Opening Day at Osceola
Today was a lovely day for baseball and a thin crowd dominated by Braves fans opened Osceola County Stadium for the spring. We watched our guys get slapped around by the Braves for the second day in a row in another game where the final score means dick.
Let me relay two observations from previous days that I’d neglected to mention. At the plate Towles’ hands look very, very slow. He didn’t always look this disjointed. In fact, I remember a couple of years ago when he looked like a star in the making here in Orlando. His swing just looked very different to me in the intra-squad game and I started to watch him carefully. I noticed that in his stance and through his swing he appears to roll his right foot outward and put all of his weight on the outer edge of his foot almost like he’s on snow skis and is making a sweeping turn to the right. I can’t imagine how he maintains balance like that, and I certainly don’t see how he can have any sort of consistent rhythm in his swing.
That reminds me – yesterday Hunter was taking his first at bat and unadvisedly swung wildly at a pitch that was going to hit him. I know I’m straining credulity here, please bear with me for a moment. Hunter sort of leapt out of the way as he swung and somehow managed to foul the pitch off. Everyone on the Astros bench was laughing and Carlos, the batter on deck, looked over at the bench with a broad smile and shouted at his new hitting coach, Mike! Teach me how to do that!
The other thing I forgot to mention was during the intra-squad game Brett Myers (who looked great today, more on that in a moment) commandeered a spot on Clark’s bench and basically raised hell throughout the entire six inning game. It was playful – shouting at the umpires, yelling words of encouragement and derision at the pitchers and hitters, he’d pop up and position himself at the entrance of the dugout like any good Little League coach and pretend to give signs to the catcher pitch by pitch. The highlight came in the fourth or so when Myers, in the middle of the inning, ran out onto the field and accosted catcher Brian Esposito (who looks really strong behind the plate) with a baseball card, mockingly beseeching him for a signature. It was brilliant. Myers dashed out of the dugout and in three strides was beside Esposito, waving the card in his mask-obscured face. Before Esposito could complete the question, Dude, what the fu- Myers with perfect timing had turned around and was back in the dugout.
Myers looked very much in control today. If he starts here and builds, getting better steadily, he’ll at the very least replicate last year’s surprising performance. He threw strikes, he seemed to hit his spots, he looked very, very good for early spring.
Every pitcher looked pretty good, actually, with the exception of my man Urckfitz. He got hit pretty hard, mainly because he was not keeping the ball down at all. I’m excited about Rowland-Smith. He has a very nice breaking ball and decent velocity. If Arnsberg works some magic we may see a pretty good pitcher emerge.
After Heyward’s double he immediately and quite foolishly tried to steal third. Needless to say, Q threw his ass out.
Koby started and finished a nice 3-6-3 double play which is never routine with a right handed first baseman, especially one who’s not out there for his glove to begin with.
Bourgeois and Steele both made very nice diving catches charging in from center.
Sadly I’ll be absent from the next week’s slate of games but will be back in action on the 10th, just in time to host Mr and Miss Limey as they make a pilgrimage to Osceola for a long weekend of baseball, sun, and, if history is any guide, plentiful libations shared with Ty in Tampa.