Decisions, decisions. Presented with a decision between 2 split squad games a choice had to be made. Camelback Ranch is a great place, but we decided to take a break and head over to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Both because we’re staying in Scottsdale and it’s nearby and by all accounts it is the world’s greatest spring training field of all time. I don’t think they hand those titles out with the frequency of World’s Greatest Dad so I felt pretty confident I’d be impressed with what I saw. And I was. It is easily the best spring training field I’ve seen in either Cactus or Grapefruit League action. As an added bonus Jamie Moyer took his 49 years of life experience to the bump for Colorado. I can only hope that I’m half as able bodied as Moyer when I approach 50.
On the field the split squad means kiddos galore, and not in the Jeffrey Jones way. The starting lineup contained mostly roster players, starters like Paulie, De Aza and Gordo and potential bench players, Fukudome, Flowers and Escobar and Jordan Danks even got the starting nod in RF. The squad got onto Moyer early, tagging him for 3 runs and lots of baserunners in the first 2 innings, highlighted by a pair of well hit doubles for Gordon Beckham and Tyler Saladino, who started at 3B today. As the game wore on some youngsters got cracks at some playing time. We had a Greg Golson sighting (0-1), Jhan Martinez came through with a hit in his only AB while Josh Phegley mirrored that effort.
In the end, Chicago’s 14 hits weren’t enough for Gavin Floyd’s 6 run hiccup in the 6th, which were the only scores for the Rockies save for a Dexter Fowler blast in the 3rd. A threat in the 9th yielded 2 runs but in the end the team registered an 8-5 loss. Outside of the stretches where outs couldn’t be bought, Floyd looked decent enough, lots of changing speeds it seemed to me and was effective until that 6th inning.
Plus: Jordan Danks had a relatively productive day, going 1 for 3 but more importantly taking a couple walks. Much has been made of his inability to get on base and tendency to strike out, a game in which the hole in his swing isn’t showing is always a plus, even if it still appears it will be a while before he makes the big squad. Paul Konerko is keeping it hot, he went 3-4 today. I’d say he’s ready for the season to start.
Minus: It’s not a Sox negative (though Gavin’s 6th inning certainly wasn’t pretty) but I’d hate to think that we cost Mr. Moyer (you have to respect your elders) a rotation spot. I know a pitcher like Moyer pitching in Coors Field might not be the greatest idea in the world but a man pushing 50 trotting out there and getting hitters out at all seems like a great idea to me. Something I’d be sure to watch at every opportunity. He’s had some hot outings and some cold outings so far and from what I hear the team is on the fence as far as awarding him a starter role.
It was great to get a look at another park this year, the majority of our games for the week are at Camelback and I can’t recommend a park more than Talking Stick. I was told later while in the hot tub (pause), which is apparently a hotbed of spring training baseball talk that all of the fields at Salt River lie dormant when spring ball is not going on. It’s a shame that such a facility should be wasted for 10 months, but in those active 2, it’s spectacular.