Monday, February 25, 2008
Action On The Diamond
"Let’s watch a big-league game," yelled Ozzie Guillen at high noon, "some people pay to watch this and they pay me to watch it!"
And with that, it was time to begin the first of two abbreviated intrasquad games prior to Wednesday’s Cactus League opener against the Rockies (heard on WSCR 670 AM and on MLB.TV).
Just prior to Gavin Floyd’s first pitch, we all discussed having Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald throw out the ceremonial first pitch in honor of his seeing more intrasquad games than any other member of the media.
Gregor said thanks, but no thanks, so the honor will have to wait.
To the game …
Nick Swisher went 2-2, including one hit off a one-bounce pitch, and scored twice, although his team dropped a 3-2 decision in 3 1/2 innings.
Guillen, an expert at hitting the split finger, admitted he collected three hits in his career on pitches that hit the dirt first.
"It bounced and he hit it," said catcher AJ Pierzynski. Swisher ran to first base laughing.
"Jack Morris, Paul Byrd and Dave Stieb," Guillen said with pride.
Pablo Ozuna went 1-2 with a triple. His head-first slide into third base brought a cry of, "He’s back!" from a fan in the stands.
Jerry Owens led off for the winning team and went 2-2 with a run scored and a bunt base hit.
Paul Konerko doubled, Orlando Cabrera drove in a run with his own hit-and-run double, Jermaine Dye had an RBI single and Royce Huffman doubled and scored.
Ehren Wasserman and Andrew Sisco threw scoreless innings, while Scott Linebrink and Floyd (W, 0 ER/2.0) also threw well.
The day started early with Photo Day setback at 6 am. Players and staff headed through the line at 7 am with Jim Thome one of the first to go through.
Later, Jim was running speed ladders with strength and conditioning coach Allen Thomas. As I worked out on the elliptical, I was impressed watching a superstar veteran working the ladder over and over, by himself, on an early Monday morning.
A few posters Saturday questioned the level of work based on the schedule.
Players are out at 8 am every morning working on specific skills … today I saw Joe Crede and coach Bryan Little bunting as the sun started to shine in the desert. Baserunning is a daily subject, led hilariously by third base coach Jeff Cox. Remember, with six or seven fields available to us, a great deal of work can get done in a pretty small amount of time.
Our advertising agency, BBDO, was down from Chicago using Photo Day to shoot some of the team’s new commercials. Two are done and in the bank. You’ll start to see them during spring training games. The rest, which will be filmed today and tomorrow, will air once the season starts.
Mark Buehrle brought his young (and cute) son into the lunch room after yesterday’s workout.
Ozzie’s eyes lit up like a grand father’s. He took the little boy, and of course, immediately got a smile and a giggle out of the kid.
"C’mon," said Guillen, "You know what happens everytime I hold you. You can do it."
He handed the baby back to Buehrle.
The kid, Braden, immediately spit up all over Mark’s arm and himself.
"That a way," said Guillen. "I knew you had it in you!"
As I am sure you read, Mark is battling a little soreness and skipped throwing in today’s intrasquad game. It’s not serious, so he’ll see how he feels heading into Cactus League play.