After a dismal two ball day yesterday, things got off to a much better start. I snagged two balls within the first fifteen seconds today. That’s right, it took a full BP to get just two yesterday.
Upon running in, there were several fans already in the stands for a season ticket holder batting practice viewing event. They were near the bullpen, so I ran towards the foul pole, where I found ball #1 in the third row back. Also, a home run landed near the foul pole as I entered the bleachers and was picked up by a Pirates season ticket representative. He tossed it to me for ball #2.
(By the way, the Pirates ran off the field at 5:05. Perhaps at 90 degrees it was too hot to take a full BP?)
By the way, the entire first group of Diamondbacks were ALL left handed, so there was virtually no chance of any batted balls landing in left field. Rather than go over and play the Riverwalk for deep home runs, I elected to stay in left field and hope for a toss up. It paid off as Josh Collmenter tossed me ball #4 of the day.
I had planned on running over to right field as four home runs landed there during the Diamondbacks first group, but I watched as the ushers systematically scanned each and every row and picked up all four. So, figuring that there wasn’t much to be found in right, I ran over to foul territory to see if a foul ball that had been hit earlier in batting practice was still there.
It paid off as I found ball #5 in the handicapped section in foul territory. As I was leaving to return to the right field bleachers, a batter hit a foul ball into the upper seats. I simply turned around to go claim it. I had seen where the ball landed, but I couldn’t find it. Two other ballhawks started to come over to look and claim it for themselves, so I pulled some trickery and bent down as if I had found it, and stood back up holding the previous ball that I had found. This bought me another minute or two, as the other ballhawks went back to their spots along front row in foul territory. Eventually, I found the ball, it had rolled the whole way down to row A in section 130. It was ball #6.
The entire batting practice there were three home runs to left field. That’s it. It didn’t help that the Diamondbacks were being frugal and were tossing up precious few baseballs. Nick Pelescak capped off batting practice by shouting at the Diamondbacks as they ran off the field, “You’re all a bunch of cheapskates!”
The D’Backs BP has been the worst I’ve seen this year. One more game with them this year on Thursday, and then the Mets come into town for 4. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.
Game: 7 balls (2 hit, 2 thrown, 1 device, 2 found)
Season: 186 balls (71 hit, 42 thrown, 48 device, 25 found)
Games: 31 games
Average: 6.00 balls per game
Career: 1,308 balls
Unfortunately, batting practice was wiped out by thunderstorms that rolled through last night. When we arrived at the field just after 11AM, the tarp was still on. My only hope of getting a ball would be to have one thrown to me.
I was sort of miserable during this game due to some severe burning on my hands that I guess came from the sun. When we went in, 4/5’s of the Yankees starting rotation was warming up in right field: Andy Pettitte, Chien Ming Wang, CC Sabathia, and Joba Chamberlain. After warming up, they threw their balls to a few little kids in the Tampa Tribune Deck area. They went over to the bullpen and threw their side sessions.
Security was ridiculous for a spring training game. There is a circular walk way that is above the bullpen. There were three security guards walking back and forth and enforcing a rule that all fans had to stay at least 2 feet back from the railing. I mean, seriously? I didn’t attempt to get a ball from Sabathia or Chamberlain after their side sessions because there were so many fans. I had also noticed that the Pirates pitchers came out to stretch.
They soon started throwing along the left field line. I politely asked an usher if I could go down to the front behind where they were throwing. It was sprinkling, and there was maybe 10 fans in all of the sections along the 3rd base line. He told me I had to have a ticket, no exceptions. So, I stood above the Pirates bullpen, along a railing. Craig Hansen was throwing with some minor leaguer, Denny Bautista was tossing with #83, Chris Bootcheck was tossing with strenghth coach Frank Velazquez, and Sean Burnett was tossing with Jason Davis.
Hansen finished tossing first. My dad and I were the only ones along the railing by the Pirates bullpen. I called down to him, “Craig, could you toss that ball up!” He looked and me, and threw it with some nice authority. It was ball #1. Hansen then ran his sprints.
I asked Burnett, Velazquez, Bautista and #83 for their warm up balls, but was ignored.
We left and got something to eat and found our seats. Before game time, the Pirates came back out and started tossing, so I went back over to the railing. I noticed bullpen catcher Heberto Andrade had a few balls in his glove. He looked up at me and tossed one up. It was ball #2. There was many more fans along the railing now and some of them looked puzzled, “How’d you know that guys name?”
Zach Duke then started throwing his bullpen session before his start. I was waiting for him to get finished so I could ask for the ball. However, a security guard appeared and told everyone to go to their seats. The game wasn’t going to start for another 15 minutes. He didn’t care. Don’t the Yankees get that this is Spring Training? Is there really a need to be that strict?
Among signs I saw posted were No Standing (posted everywhere), No Loitering, No Diving from the Railing, No throwing objects from the pedestrian walkway, etc. If Spring Training was this military style in enforcing rules, I’d hate to see how strict they will be at the new Yankee Stadium during Batting Practice.
A side note: had there been batting practice, I was planning on going into the right field Tampa Tribune Deck to chase home runs. However, you can’t get in there without a ticket (of course).
On to the game:
The Yankees would go on to win the game 9-8. They played most of their regulars until the 7th inning. Zach Duke was shelled by the Yankees, giving up 8 runs in 3.1 innings. Duke had been looking much better this spring until this start. Eric Hinske, Ryan Doumit, and Robinson Cano hit home runs in the game.
Here are some action shots:
AJ Burnett vs Freddy Sanchez
Nate McLouth takes a look at a pitch:
Ryan Doumit hits a ball to the right side:
Tampa Tribune Deck (if going to BP, you’d better have a Deck ticket!) Cano’s home run hit off the blue restaurant roof.
Stands to my right:
“The Boss” George Steinbrenner
George was taking in the game with Mr. October, Reggie Jackson:
“The Sandman” Mariano Rivera
Brett Gardner Caught Stealing:
Ex-Pirate Xavier Nady (The X-man!)
Tomorrow I’m headed back to Bradenton.