Well, our annual visit to Twins/Red Wings spring training in Fort Myers wrapped up today.
This has been a great spring weather-wise for the folks down here. Unfortunately, it rained this morning which cancelled the Wings tilt vs. Pawtucket. There was news from camp, however, which impacts the Red Wings roster pretty significantly.
When we arrived this morning at the Lee County Sports Complex, Twins farm director Jim Rantz informed us that the Twins had released Justin Huber. Wings fans were justifiably excited when the Twins signed Huber as a free agent this past offseason. The affable Aussie was the Wings MVP and a Triple A All Star in 2009 when he hit .273 with 22 HR and an .838 OPS. He spent last year playing in Japan. This spring, unfortunately, Huber just didn’t perform well enough to land a job with the Wings who have a glut of players battling for a few precious spots. Hopefully, Huber will land a job soon with another organization. He is an awesome guy whom his teammates and coaches all love.
In the other move that impacts the Wings, the Twins were able to swing a deal with Atlanta to keep LHP Scott Diamond by traded RHP Billy Bullock to the Braves. Diamond was taken last December from Atlanta in the Rule V draft. Because he was taken in that particular draft, the Twins would have had to keep Diamond in the Major Leagues all season or offer him back to Atlanta…or work a trade with the Braves to keep him in the Twins system. That is what happened and now Diamond will start the season with the Red Wings probably as the only lefty in the Wings starting rotation.
Diamond went 4-1 with a 3.36 ERA in 10 starts for Gwinnett last year. That included two very good starts against Rochester. He is a 24-year-old from Guelph, Ontario who signed with Atlanta as a non-drafted free agent out of Binghamton University. Consequently, he is a guy with some ties to the region. Diamond certainly has the stuff to be one of the better lefties in the IL.
The trade is going to cost the Twins a talented pitcher, though. Bullock is a hard-throwing closer type who is considered a very good prospect. He had a good chance to appear with the Wings at some point this season. Now he will try to reach Triple A with Gwinnett.
If Diamond does work as a starter for the Wings, it will be interesting to see who moves into the bullpen. Right now, it looks like the Wings starting rotation will consist of five of the following six pitchers: Kyle Gibson, Anthony Swarzak, Yorman Bazardo, Andy Baldwin, Eric Hacker and Diamond. Again, Diamond is the only lefty in the bunch. Also, notice David Bromberg is not on that list. Bromberg, who had some impressive moments for the Wings late last season, is probably going to start this season back at Double A with New Britain.
While the Wings did not play today due to the weather, the Twins were able to play their final game of the spring at Hammond Stadium. They rallied to beat Garrett Jones and the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3. Possible Wings outfielder Brandon Roberts (whom Rantz says has had a very good spring) ripped a double and a triple for Minnesota. The Twins set a Hammond Stadium single game attendance record today with a crowd of 8,347. The Twins’ overall attendance this spring was their second best ever in Fort Myers.
To conclude our final post from Fort Myers this spring, how about a couple dining recommendations. We had a chance to hit up Fort Myers Beach last night, and The Beached Whale is a cool spot. The food is good and the outdoor deck on top of the restaurant has a great view of the beach with a cool atmosphere. It’s a small world, too. We wound up next to a young couple from Buffalo while sitting at the bar.
Additionally, our final big meal of the trip might have been our best. We ate at Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria on the strong recommendation of Twins beat writer LaVelle Neal, and the pizza lived up to its advanced billing. Without a doubt, in the top 4-5 pizzas I’ve had. For me, it rivals Bob and Timmy’s in Providence which GQ magazine ranked as one of the Top 10 pizza places in the country. Really, really good.
That’s all from here. Keep your eyes open for our spring training edition of Red Wings Insider on Time Warner Cable Sports Net. That show will feature a ton of footage from this visit to balmy Fort Myers. And…don’t forget…the home opener is April 9 at 4:05 against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre!!!
Hello once again from sunny and hot Fort Myers where the Twins Major League Spring Training is winding down. The Twins and Red Sox met for the final time this Grapefruit League schedule last night with the Twins using a 9th inning rally to come back and win. The victory gave the Twins the Mayor’s Cup which goes to the team that wins the spring training series between the Twins and Sox who both train here. Last night’s game was also the last game for the Red Sox at City of Palms Park. The Red Sox will move into a brand new complex next spring close to the airport.
Today was a quiet day on the Minor League side…especially in comparison to the MLB side of the Twins complex where the Yankees are in town. The Red Wings faced the Twins Double A affiliate from New Britain and played to a 4-4 tie. Possible Wings outfielder Rene Tosoni went deep with a solo shot in the first inning for the only real highlight for Rochester. Anthony Slama started the game and pitched one effective inning for the Wings.
Slama, the terrific Wings closer last year, was optioned to the Wings today prior to the game. Infielder Luke Hughes and pitcher Jim Hoey were also optioned to the Wings. Hughes had been in a battle with Matt Tolbert for a utility role with the Twins, but ultimately Tolbert’s speed and defense must have won out. Hughes certainly put his best foot forward leading the Twins this spring with 6 HR and 15 RBI.
Hoey, a former Baltimore Oriole, could be real find for the Twins. The right-hander throws very hard. In fact, he will probably be the Wings hardest thrower since Juan Morillo in 2009.
In other transaction news, the Twins will reassign LHP Phil Dumatrait and catcher Danny Lehmann to the Minor League camp after tomorrow’s game. RHPs Carlos Gutierrez and Kyle Waldrop, LHP Chuck James, catcher Rene Rivera, infielder Chase Lambin and outfielder Brian Dinkelman will be reassigned to Minor League camp after the Twins Wednesday exhibition in Atlanta. All or almost all of those players will wind up in Rochester to open the season.
Have had a chance to catch up with some former Wings on some of their memories of Frontier Field as the ballpark gets ready for its 15th anniversary season. Among some of the entertaining responses:
-Brian Duensing will never forget when the Wings presented him with his Olympic jersey in 2008. The Wings players that year also donated memorabilia that was auctioned off to pay for Brian’s wife being able to travel to Beijing for the Games.
-Michael Cuddyer’s memory that really sticks out is a painful one. He was with the Wings on a rehab stint in 2008 when Garrett Jones hit him on the foot with a screaming line drive while Cuddyer led from first base. The rocket broke a bone in Cuddyer’s left foot and he missed a considerable amount of time after that.
-Darnell McDonald still wants a rematch with Zippy Chippy. The famously awful racehorse beat Darnell in one of the Man vs. Beast races at Frontier Field, but Darnell feels a bad scouting report and a late change of the rules cost him a win. He’s ready if Zippy Chippy is.
Miscellaneous: RHP Anthony Swarzak had a rough 2010 season with the Wings despite some high expectations coming into the season. This offseason Swarzek pitched some in Venezuela and lost some weight…initially because he got sick. However, he worked hard to keep the weight off, and everybody is saying that Swarzak is looking very good. His velocity is supposedly back up into the 90-92 mph range while topping out at about 94 mph. He will be one of the Wings starters again to open the season…speaking of velocities, LHP Phil Dumatrait has been throwing in the low 90s as well according to Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff. Dumatrait is a former Red Sox first round pick who has pitched in the big leagues for the Reds and the Pirates. He spent much of last year pitching in Korea and will be a lefty in the Wings bullpen to start the season…Ran into former Wings lefty Mike Venafro last night at the Twins-Red Sox game. (Venafro, who pitched for five MLB teams, pitched briefly for Rochester in 2007.) Venafro is now a scout for the San Diego Padres and he thinks he will spend some time covering the Wings this year.
Red Wings face the Pawtucket Red Sox tomorrow at the Lee County Sports Complex. Should be fun!!!
The Red Wings won this afternoon in blowout fashion at the Lee County Sports Complex blowing out Pawtucket 11-1. Fans at the game were treated to seeing a future Hall of Famer in the Wings lineups as Jim Thome went 3 for 3 with three singles and a walk. OF Dustin Martin clobbered a 3 run HR off the batters eye in center. The Wings pitching obviously stood out too. Kyle Gibson, who has been highly touted all offseason, started and went four VERY strong innings. He allowed only one hit while walking one and striking out three. Scott Diamond, a Rule V pick from the Braves who is trying to stick with Minnesota, went the next two innings and allowed the only Pawtucket run.
A name to file away is Spencer Steedley. He is a lefty out of UNC-Charlotte who missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Steedley worked two scoreless innings today and looked impressive. He has a chance to be a southpaw out of the Wings bullpen.
In other news…Toby Gardenhire has stopped switch-hitting. Toby now is strictly batting right-handed…had a good chat with Ben Revere, the former Twins first round pick who figures to be the Wings centerfielder this season. It turns out that Ben has aunt that lives in Rochester so he is very pumped to play in the Flower City. ..it’s always fun to see former Twins great Tony Oliva meandering around camp and checking out the proceedings while in full uniform. He apparently suggested to Revere that he work with HOFer Rod Carew on his bunting this year, and Revere is planning on trying to bunt more for hits this season than in the past…had a great dinner last night at local seafood favorite Prawnbrokers with—among others—Wings GM Dan Mason, Wings manager Tom Nieto, Wings pitching coach Bobby Cuellar., new Wings trainer Chad Jackson, former Wings trainer Tony Leo, new Wings strength coach Tyler Donahue, Twins farm director Jim Rantz and his wife Pearl, Twins assistant farm director Brad Steil and new Wings video production director John Blotzer. A good time and a great meal was had by all.
Now we are off to catch the big league Twins who are in action across town against the Boston Red Sox. Former Red Wing Brian Duensing is starting tonight for Minnesota. We are hoping to bump into former Wing Darnell McDonald with the Red Sox to try and find out his favorite memory of Frontier Field in this—the 15h anniversary—of the ballpark.
Our first day in Fort Myers for Red Wings/Twins Spring Training is in the books.
Unfortunately—on the field—the Red Wings lost 6-3 to the Durham Bulls. All three of the Red Wings runs came in the 8th inning on four straight hits that went like this…
1) Jeff Bailey single
2) Dustin Martin RBI double off the right center field fence
3) Toby Gardenhire RBI single…takes second on throw home
4) Michael Hollimon RBI single
Otherwise it was a pretty uneventful game for the Red Wings offense.
On the pitching front, Anthony Slama…who is still in Major League camp…started and allowed one run in the first inning. Twins reliever Joe Nathan—coming back from Tommy John surgery—pitched a perfect second inning and retired the Bulls in order on 11 pitches. RHP Yorman Bazardo then pitched the next 3.2 innings and allowed four runs. Bazardo reportedly has had a good spring otherwise and appears to be slated to be one of the Wings starting pitchers. Alex Burnett followed Bazardo and looked VERY good over the course of a couple of innings.
Other news so far from the trip…
-seeing former Wings manager Phil Roof throwing BP for the Twins. Phil is going to start the season as the Twins bullpen coach filling in for the ailing Rick Stelmaszek. It will be the first time in 20 years that Phil has been in the big leagues and he couldn’t be more excited.
-Pittsburgh Steelers star Troy Polamalu threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Twins game vs. Baltimore. Polamalu was in town to film a commercial for Head and Shoulders shampoo with fellow pitchman—and Twins star—Joe Mauer
-speaking of football…sitting two seats away from us on the connecting flight from Atlanta…none other than former Bills coach Gregg Williams. He was sporting quite the Super Bowl ring…something he earned as defensive coordinator a couple years ago with the New Orleans Saints.
-a little bit of a temperature difference between Rochester and Fort Myers. It was 28 degrees when we left the Flower City yesterday. Today’s high in Fort Myers: 92!!!
Be sure to check out Facebook.com/RocRedWings for a few photos from today – including friendly faces Phil Roof, Floyd Rayford and Stu Cliburn.
Looking forward to a staff meal tonight with the Wings coaching staff and Wings GM Dan Mason. Tomorrow should be fun too with super prospect Kyle Gibson expected to pitch for the Wings.
One other note: A co-worker of mine is spending way more time on his AT&T iPhone today than usual…and for good reason. The new Red Wings iPhone app is in beta testing today, with the launch happening before Opening Day; and the Windows Mobile and Android apps launching sometime later in April. It’s a whole new way to stay in touch with all things Wings on your smart phone.
The pace is picking up here at One Morrie Silver Way….right now, as I write this, a meeting of the Red Wings Hall of Fame committee is taking place in our conference room. Last year, the committee voted to elect Elmer Fairchild, Chris Hoiles and Paul Mitchell to the Wings Hall; who will join the elite group in 2011?
What we can answer right now is, “What are some of the highlights of the 2011 promotions schedule?” Here’s a quick rundown, with more details to be finalized and posted in the Schedule section of RedWingsBaseball.com in two weeks:
* ZOOperstars! July 8 and Aug. 13
* Baseball/Fireworks/RPO concert triple header July 17
* The Famous Chicken July 30
* Wings Cap giveaway June 18
* Bark in the Park June 26
* Former Yankees/Blue Jays pitcher Jimmy Key Aug. 21
* Red Wings Legends Card Strip giveaway Apr. 24 and 29, June 4, Aug. 12 and Aug. 19
* Post-Game Fireworks April 15 and 29, May 6-7, 21; June 3-4, 17-18; July 4, 8, 17, 30-31; Aug. 12-13, 19-20; Sept. 2-3/
* Kids’ Glove giveaway June 3
* Post-game Team Autograph Session April 23
In addition, our non-game day special event schedule will be the biggest ever – with the return of the 98PXY Summer Jam, and two more concert special events plus a big, non-concert event that might be hard to top.
Your Red Wings planning calendar should also include the debut on TWCS of our Red Wings Insider special with manager Tom Nieto March 7, and of course the reporting dates and spring training games for the Wings in March – click here for all the details on the Wings in Spring. And it’s not too early to get your tickets for the 83rd annual Red Wings Welcome Home dinner April 5, at the Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside; click here for the info on how to order, and click here to see our coverage from last year’s dinner.
How’s that? Enough to look forward to on a cold Friday in February?
Ok, one more nugget for our valued season seat holders: this year’s ticket package will celebrate our 15 seasons at Frontier Field, with images of Red Wings who are associated with countless great Frontier Field memories since our first season here in 1997. Howie Clark, Marv Foley, Garrett Jones and Francisco Liriano are just four of the 10 players who will grace your season tickets this season. Not a season seat holder? Now’s the best time to get all the details on becoming one!
Regular Season Schedule | Ticket Information
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To hopefully provide warmth this wintry Rochester weekend, here’s an update on some Wings Things to look forward to.
* Our typical off-season Friday posting will take a break next weekend, as we head off to TwinsFest 2011 in Blaine, MN just north of Minneapolis. American Airlines and The Hotel Minneapolis present our exclusive coverage, beginning Thursday Jan. 27 in the News section of RedWingsBaseball.com. TwinsFest is an annual fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, and features the entire 40-man roster plus several top prospects. For TwinsBaseball.com info on TwinsFest, click here; to look back at our heart-warming coverage from last year’s TwinsFest, click here.
* While TwinsFest provides a focal point for the fans of Twins Territory, our annual shareholders’ meeting next Saturday provides the annual overview of Rochester Community Baseball. Red Wings manager Tom Nieto will discuss the ball club and answer questions from fans at the meeting, to be held at the Doubletree Hotel in Henrietta; you can also catch Tom on the local airwaves, when he joins 1280 AM/107.3 FM WHTK’s John DiTullio between 5-6 p.m. Friday afternoon, and 1180 AM WHAM’s Bob Matthews between 6:30-7 p.m. Friday evening.
* Speaking of appearances, RCB President/COO/CEO Naomi Silver is the featured speaker at the Center for Dispute Settlement’s 21st Annual Awards Luncheon Feb. 8th at the Rochester Plaza Hotel. Find out more at CDSADR.org.
* We’re happy to announce the addition to the Red Wings front office lineup of three talented teammates: Eric Friedman, Derek Swanson and John Blotzer. Eric and Derek were marketing/promotions assistants during the 2010 season, and now officially begin their pro baseball careers in our Groups/Picnics Department. Both are Saint John Fisher College grads. Eric is from East Syracuse, follows the Boston Red Sox, and lists Dustin Martin as his fave Red Wing player. Derek is from Rome, NY and a Yankees fan, and enjoyed watching Toby Gardenhire play for the Wings last summer.
John is our new Director of Game Day Production, heading up our in-stadium video board, closed circuit telecast, and live TWCS game telecast pieces. John takes over for Jeff Coltoniak, and joins us after working for both Toledo and Durham in the IL. John’s from Pittsburgh, and thus a big Pirates fan.
* Fans loved the Red Wings Legends Card Set that debuted in 2010, presented by CollectorFest Monthly. We’re happy to say the Legends set will return in 2011, with dates to be announced soon; five players from last year’s set will return with a new card as part of the 2011 20-card set. Two players from the Minnesota Twins era (2003-present) will be honored with a card this year; and we can tell you that Freddie Beene and Tommy Shopay – pound for pound, two of the best and most popular Wings in the 1970′s – are also part of the set.
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Knot Hole Gang Kids’ Club | Ballpark Birthdays
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The Twins have signed six more Minor League Free Agents who could wind up being a part of the 2011 Red Wings. Here’s a look at the players:
Steve Holm- Holm is a 31-year-old catcher who will be in his 1st season outside the San Francisco Giants organization after they drafted him in the 17 th round in 2001. He spent last year with the Giants Triple-A affiliate in Fresno where he was the main catcher after a guy named Buster Posey got promoted to the big leagues. Holm hit .246/.343/.382 with 4 HR and 37 RBI in 82 games. He has also spent parts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons in the Majors with the Giants. A couple of Red Wings connections for Holm…he played at McClatchy High School in Sacramento, CA with former Wings lefty Ricky Barrett. He also played collegiately at Oral Roberts University, whose products include Wings manager Tom Nieto and former Wings hitting coach Bill Springman.
Matt Brown- Brown is a 28-year-old who played 1B, 3B and LF for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City in 2010. He hit .249/.311/.442 with 10 HR and 32 RBIs in 79 games. An injury early in the season affected his year and he barely played in May and June. Last year was his only season in the Texas system. He came up with the Angels spending bits of 2007 and 2008 in the big leagues. He enjoyed a huge 2008 season in Triple A with the Angels affiliate in Salt Lake City hitting .320 with 21 HR. He also played with former Wing Brian Duensing on the United States Olympic Team that earned the bronze medal that year in Beijing. Fun fact: Brown is from beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Ray Chang– Chang primarily played 3B last year for the Red Sox Double-A affiliate in Portland, Maine although he also spent a little time at the other three infield spots. The 27-year-old hit .298/.384/.436 with 9 HR and 55 RBIs for the SeaDogs. He previously spent time in the Padres and Pirates systems and also played for the Chinese National Team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Chang’s parents—who are from China originally—own a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. The Padres signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Rockhurst College in Kansas City after Chang attended Rockhurst High School—the same high school that produced longtime big league pitcher David Cone and current Lehigh Valley slugger John Mayberry, Jr.
Andy Baldwin— The 28-year-old former Batavia Muckdog was born in Minnesota but grew up in Oregon and pitched on some terrific teams at Oregon State. The Phillies drafted him in the 5th round in 2004 and his first pro experience was right down the Thruway at Batavia. Near the end of 2006, he found himself traded to the Mariners as part of a deal that brought former Red Wing Jamie Moyer to Philadelphia. The right-hander has spent all of the last three years with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma averaging 138 innings pitched per season while working as both a starter and a reliever. Most recently, he was 9-7 with a 4.90 ERA for the 2010 PCL champs in Tacoma. Interestingly, he posted a 2.86 ERA in home games while fashioning a 7.24 mark away from Tacoma. He currently is pitching very well in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Chuck James— The 29-year-old southpaw came up with Atlanta as one of many Georgia natives the Braves always seem to have. He won 11 games for the Braves in both 2006 and 2007 before encountering some arm problems that eventually caused him to miss the entire 2009 season. He came back last year in the Washington Nationals system and actually made his first appearance of the season against the Red Wings in Syracuse. On April 23, James twirled five shutout innings against the Wings allowing only one hit. He went 2-1 with a 3.92 ERA in five starts for the Chiefs before spending the rest of the year with the Nats’ Double-A team in Harrisburg. Pitching primarily in relief for the Senators, James was dominant going 8-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 21 appearances (two starts). Opponents only hit .181 against him in the Eastern League.
Rene Rivera– The 27-year-old Rivera will be in the Red Wings catching mix in 2011. He was a 2nd round pick of Seattle in 2001 out of Puerto Rico eventually making it to the big leagues with the Mariners for parts of 2004, 2005 & 2006. The Wings saw quite a bit of Rivera in 2009 when he played for Buffalo. In 2010, he began the season in the Independent League ranks with Camden, NJ before the Yankees signed him. He split the rest of the season between Double-A Trenton (.319-5-17) and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (.250-2-11). One of his two HR for Scranton got a bit of attention. On May 29, Rivera homered off Syracuse’s Stephen Strasburg…the first HR the super-prospect had allowed as a pro.
Sad news on the passing of a great American: Bob Feller.
Rochester ‘s Mr. Baseball, Joe Altobelli, knew Feller very well. In fact, Alto’s first year as a Major League player was as a Cleveland Indians teammate with Feller in the HOFer’s next-to-last season (1955). Among Joe’s memories of “Rapid Robert”: Feller helped explain to Joe how options worked since Joe had been optioned back and forth between Cleveland and Triple A Indianapolis several times that year.
Joe made the Indians out of spring training that year—a year after Cleveland won 111 games in the regular season before losing to Johnny Antonelli’s New York Giants in the World Series. One of Joe’s best memories of his time with Feller occurred that season when Feller and Joe’s buddy Herb Score defeated Boston in both ends of a doubleheader while holding the Sox to only five total hits.
A quick check of www.baseball-reference.com tells us even more. The date was May 1, 1955. In game one Feller threw his 44 th—and final—Major League shutout in a 2-0 Tribe win. The Indians completed the DH sweep with a 2-1 win in the nightcap with Score fanning 16 men while allowing just four hits.
Here’s the fun part…Feller twirled a one-hitter (the 12 th and last in his career) in the opener. The only hit he allowed was a one-out single from Red Sox catcher Sammy White in the 7 th inning. One inning later, Cleveland manager Al Lopez inserted Joe for defense to replace the glove-challenged first baseman Vic Wertz.
I was talking to Joe on the phone about the game while looking at the box score on baseball-reference. Suddenly it hit me…the final out of the game—the final out of Bob Feller’s last career shutout—came when Boston’s Grady Hatton lined out to Joe at first base.
When I told Joe about this, he simply replied “Well, I could always catch line drives!”
Here is a great tribute to one of the best pitchers ever: http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/2010/12/rip-bob-feller.html ….and re-visit a RedWingsBaseball.com interview with Bob, at TwinsFest in January 2009, on this page in our News section. Interesting to hear Bob talk about flying to Arizona the next day…to pitch in an Indians fantasy camp.
Had a great time Wednesday night watching the MLB Network and their replay of the classic Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. It was believed that complete footage of the game no longer existed until someone found a full copy of the game in Bing Crosby’s basement last year. Seriously. Among the things that jumped out at me about the broadcast…
-Seeing Red Wings Hall of Famer Bill Virdon in his prime playing CF for Pittsburgh six years after starring in the Rochester outfield
-Watching those old-time deliveries. There tended to be a lot more moving parts in the pitchers’ windups back then
-Dick Groat…the 1960 NL MVP for Pittsburgh. I’ve had a chance in the last few years to visit with Mr. Groat a couple of times in his role now as a color analyst for the University of Pittsburgh basketball team. He is an incredible man and it was fun to see him back in his younger days. (Dick Groat is also the answer to a great trivia question. He is the only man ever to lead the nation in points per game and assists while he was starring as a basketball player at Duke.)
-Nobody wore batting gloves so players weren’t constantly backing out to adjust their gloves
-In that same vein, pitchers didn’t dilly dally between pitches. No wonder a 10-9 game lasted only 2 hours, 36 minutes.
-How many hitters batted with a closed stance. You rarely see hitters today with that style in which your front foot is closer to home plate than the back foot. (Most hitters today seem to go with an even stance or an open stance.)
-Only one voice at a time on the TV broadcast. Back in those days, the local broadcasters handled the national TV feed. Consequently, Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince (“The Possum”) called the first half of the game, while Yankees voice Mel Allen broadcast the last half. There was no interaction between the two during the game.
-Also, as far as the broadcast goes…Mel Allen botched the call of Yogi Berra’s home run off Roy Face in the 6 th inning thinking it was foul when, in fact, it was fair. If an announcer made that sort of gaffe in a World Series today, he would be roundly ridiculed.
-No goggles needed in the postgame celebration. They showed a portion of the postgame interviews Bob Prince conducted in the Pirates clubhouse right after Bill Mazeroski ended the game with his famous home run. Unless it wasn’t visible, there was no spraying of champagne or beer in the clubhouse. In fact, some of the Pirates players were already in street clothes by the time Prince got to them and appeared ready to get their offseason started.
The MLB Network broadcast included commentary from some of the men who played in the game as part of a panel moderated by Bob Costas. I’m sure they will be replaying the broadcast again, and it is certainly worth checking out for any big baseball fan.
In news out of the just-completed Baseball Winter Meetings: The Twins have traded shortstop J.J. Hardy and 2010 Red Wing Brendan Harris to the Orioles for Minor League reliever Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. Hoey had spent some time in the Majors with the Orioles before suffering a shoulder injury. He could possibly be a Red Wing in 2011. Jacobson was rated as Baltimore’s 16th best prospect going into 2010 and spent all of last year at the Class A level; he is currently playing with Perth in the Australian Baseball League, which has included Luke Hughes, Allan de San Miguel and Liam Hendriks on the roster…
Former Wings pitcher (1982) and Orioles starter Storm Davis is the new pitching coach for Class A Hickory (Rangers)…ex-Red Wings shortstop Jason Bartlett is now a San Diego Padre after the Tampa Bay Rays dealt him for pitchers Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell. Bartlett—the son-in-law of former Wings pitcher Tony Chevez—is a northern California native who probably won’t mind being back in his home state…former Wings outfielder Trent Oeltjen has re-signed with the Dodgers on a Minor League contract…the Mets have signed former Wings starter Boof Bonser to a Minor League deal. That means Wings fans could see Boof in a Buffalo uniform in 2011…the Phillies have signed one-time Wings LHP Dennys Reyes to a one-year MLB contract.
More: Former Mariners and Yankees pitcher Jeff Nelson, who made an autograph appearance at Frontier Field this summer, spotted at The Disney Swan Hotel’s Il Mulino New York restaurant. Jeff had Wings pitching coach Bobby Cuellar as his coach in Seattle; and when Jeff was a high school pitching phenom growing up in Baltimore, Orioles/Wings catcher and current coach Floyd Rayford caught Jeff during some winter workouts…Quinton McCracken, a key component in the Red Wings’ drive to the playoffs in 2006, begins his front office career with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ player development office…. Congratulations and best wishes to Wings trainer Tony Leo and his new wife Jennifer, getting married today in New Orleans.
Former Wing Ron Shelton – an All-Star in Hollywood for “Bull Durham” and other films – is working on a new TBS comedy about minor league baseball. Click here to read the USA Today story about the show.
Don’t forgot our Frontier Field Team Store is open Saturday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18. The Team Store will also be open on Christmas Eve, Friday Dec. 24 from 9 a.m until 1 p.m.; and be sure to visit us at Eastview Mall next Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19. Click here for all the details on our Holiday Pack and Team Store hours.
Our goal is to post a new blog entry each Friday in the off-season….since we didn’t the past couple weeks, we want to make it up to you. As the holiday season approaches, the Red Wings Baseball off-season calendar is starting to fill up – so let’s update you on a bunch of stuff …
* This week we’ll announce details on the perfect gift for every baseball fan on your shopping list: The Red Wings Holiday Pack, with four undated tickets, a t-shirt and a coupon for a 2011 yearbook for just $28. The Holiday Pack t-shirt will feature a cool new logo celebrating the upcoming 15th season of Red Wings Baseball at Frontier Field – and we’ll also be sharing details on that celebration this week, and how YOU can help us select the top moments of those seasons.
*Our annual Holiday Sale on Sat. Nov. 27 will be a great time to snag a Holiday Pack, Voucher Pack, or Season Seats. Spikes and Mittsy will be here for the kids, look for a complete rundown with our Holiday Pack announcement.
* For fans in Ontario County and the eastern Monroe County suburbs, we’re finalizing plans to be at Eastview Mall on a December weekend. We had a great response last year, and we’re looking forward to having a presence again this holiday season.
* On Monday, MiLB.com continues their organization All-Stars series. Milwaukee’s farm system will be the focus tomorrow, with Minnesota slotted for Tuesday. The series honors “the players — regardless of age or prospect status — who had the best seasons in their organization.” The position-by-position look could include RHP Kyle Gibson, who has hurtled up through the organization in one season. He’s already been honored with the Jim Rantz Award as the Twins’ top minor league pitcher of 2010; we won’t be surprised if Kyle makes the MiLB.com list. (I won’t be surprised if he’s our Opening Day starter in Pawtucket April 7.) RHP Anthony Slama, the Wings’ IL All-Star Team closer, is another logical candidate for the list, along with the guy who is a sure thing to be our lead-off hitter April 7: Ben Revere. In fact, if Ben’s not our lead-off hitter April 7 (unless traded, injured or in the big leagues), I will wash Josh Whetzel’s car once a week for two weeks.
*The next two weeks will bring a pair of interesting Wings-related lists to light: the filing of Minnesota’s 40-man roster on Nov. 19, and Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects in the Minnesota organization on Nov. 23. We’ll clue you in on both when available, be sure to check the News section of RedWingsBaseball.com for updates. Fans of the Wings at Facebook.com/RocRedWings will see an update from us when we add the info to our site.
* Our Hot Stove Report, in the News section of RedWingsBaseball.com, will help you keep track of off-season player moves, free agent signings, winter ball stats and more. Head over there now for an update on Luke Hughes, Allan de San Miguel, and Justin Huber playing in the Australian Baseball League.
We’ll post again here next Friday, and be sure to check out RedWingsBaseball.com and Facebook.com/RocRedWings for complete access to all things Wings. And one more date to keep in mind: Feburary 17, the date pitchers and catchers report to Twins camp in Florida.
With Cliff Lee’s win over the Yankees in Game Three of the ALCS, the Texas Rangers lefthander improved his lifetime postseason record to 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 8 all time postseason starts. It’s almost hard to fathom how far Lee has come in just three or four short years.
In 2007, the southpaw from Arkansas was just two years removed from going 18-5 for the Cleveland Indians. However, his fortunes started to slide in 2006, and—after losing four straight starts for the Tribe in the middle of ’07—Cleveland demoted him to Triple A Buffalo to try and straighten him out.
His fourth start for the Bisons after the demotion came August 15 in downtown Buffalo, against a Red Wings team that was playing some good baseball. The Wings struck for three runs in the 2nd inning off Lee and were well on their way to a 10-4 win over the then 28-year-old. Lee’s final line in the game: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 7 SO. What stands out most in that game? The five walks issued by Lee. He was always known as a pitcher with good stuff, but with shaky command at times. Now, Lee is considered one of the best command pitchers in the game. In fact, Lee has not walked as many as five men in a game since then – 108 starts including postseason!
Denard Span had three hits in that game, two off Lee. Denard told us over the weekend that he remembers that game, and the two hits he picked up off Lee. Denard, in his first Triple-A season, saw it as a great learning experience to face a big league pitcher like Lee. “He definitely was a different pitcher in Buffalo than he was when I faced him later in the big leagues. He wasn’t as aggressive and didn’t pound the strike zone like he has been doing the past couple years….probably the reason he was down in Buffalo.”
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Darnell McDonald also had three hits in the game, part of a Rochester lineup that included Matt Tolbert, Garrett Jones, Jose Morales, Lew Ford and Glenn Williams. Check out
I’ve never seen it really explained how he has made such an unbelievable transformation. Without a doubt, however, something clicked for Lee between 2007 and 2008. That next season Lee won the AL Cy Young Award going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA, and he has turned into maybe the best Big Game Pitcher of his generation. By the way, how much was Lee struggling when the Indians sent him down to Buffalo in 2007? Due to a contract extension he signed before that season, by MLB rules, Lee had to clear waivers before going to the minors. In other words, any other team in baseball could have claimed Lee at that time! 29 other teams in baseball have probably kicked themselves about that in the years since.
-In Lee’s first four seasons as a full-time MLB pitcher (2004-2007), he ranked 87th in terms of fewest BB/9 IP (3.01) among pitchers with 300 total innings or more. Over his last three seasons…Lee ranks 2nd on that list (1.28) behind only Roy Halladay (1.27).
-During that same time span (2008-2010), three former Red Wings rank in the top 14 in fewest BB/9 IP. Kevin Slowey is 3rd (1.50), Nick Blackburn is 7th (1.93) and Scott Baker is 14th (2.21).
-Aside from the numerous former Red Wings with Minnesota this season, others with Red Wings ties played in the 2010 Major League Baseball Postseason. Three key members of the Tampa Bay Rays (Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza and Grant Balfour) are former Wings. Although he was not on the playoff roster, Cincinnati used former Wings catcher Corky Miller at times behind the plate this year. Former Wing Randy Ready is a coach on the San Diego Padres coaching staff. Two former Wings are in uniform for the San Francisco Giants. Catcher Eli Whiteside (although he is not on the playoff roster) and outfielder Andres Torres, who had a tremendous season for the Giants, finished fourth in the NL in doubles (43). Finally, although no Texas Rangers players are former Red Wings, four of their staff members are. The head man—manager Ron Washington—spent much of 1987 with the Red Wings. Special Assignment Coach Jerry Narron is a former Red Wings player and manager. Additionally, the two Rangers athletic trainers—Jamie Reed and Kevin Harmon—are both former Red Wings trainers. Former Wings skipper John Hart is the Senior Advisor, Baseball Operations and Brighton’s Josh Lewin – who began his broadcasting career with the Wings – just completed his ninth season as TV play-by-play announcer in Texas.