April 25-26, 2007 April 26, 2007Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
Bears Spring Training Report: I spent my afternoon in Newark yesterday, taking in all the sights and sounds from the Bears Spring Training. Here’s what I learned…
Newark is carrying a whopping 33 players, including 16 pitchers. Some of them are attending on a tryout basis, but here’s their entire roster as of now…
P: Blake Allen, Edwin Almonte, Bobby Brownlie, Jason DiAngelo, Jeremy Hill, Justin Huisman, Gary Knotts, Aaron Ledbetter, Jeff Miller, Carlos Mirabal, Delvis Pacheco, Travis Phelps, Matt Sweeney, R.J. Swindle, Evan Thomas, J.J. Trujillo
C: John Pachot, Jonathan Thomas, Jason Torres
INF: Josh Arteaga, Matt Brunson, Javier Colina, Ramon Castro, Pat Peavey, Victor Rodriguez, Corey Smith
OF: Joey Gomes, Jack Headley, Jose Herrera, Joe Jianetti, Marcus Nettles, Keith Reed, Jarod Rine
Pacheco and Herrera are not with the team yet due to visa issues.
— Evan Thomas had a cortisone shot in his shoulder and is likely to start the season on the DL. This may open a spot for someone else in the starting rotation, possibly Sweeney or Ledbetter.
— One of the benefits of this for me was standing behind the cage for live pitching, which I never get to do. I got to see Allen and Swindle throw. Bears officials are very high on Swindle, and it’s easy to see why. He has a deceptive sidearm delivery (closer to three quarters really) and hides the ball until the last second, so it’s hard to pick up what he’s throwing. His curveball is out of this world filthy, and made some ex-Major Leaguers look foolish. The curveball is so slow that it makes his fastball look faster, when in fact it tops out in the high 80’s.
— In asking Joe Jiannetti about his hitting streak, one thing quickly became evident. He had no idea about it. For those unaware, Jiannetti is carrying a 25-game hitting streak into the season, one short of tying the record held by Billy Hall and his teammate Victor Rodriguez. He also said that he’d had some talks with BASA about going to one of their teams before signing with Newark, but ultimately decided the Bears were the best fit for him. He’ll start some games at third base and some in the outfield, but he’ll definitely be starting a lot.
— Marcus Nettles is holy s–t fast. How fast is he? Back at the University of Miami, he beat NFL star wideout Santana Moss in the 60-yard-dash, although he admitted Moss torched him in the 40.
— Corey Smith can tear the cover off the baseball. Granted, a few of his throws may end up in the orbits of other planets every now and then, but I saw this guy punish the net over the left field fence, nearly hitting a few over. He joked that he wants to hit one over, although his most impressive feat this spring would have to be hitting the batters eye in center field on a line drive. 398 feet away. Line drive. Wow. Bet on his bat being in the lineup almost every day.
— Knotts, Phelps, Mirabal and Brownlie seem to be locks for the starting rotation. I spoke to both Brownlie and pitching coach Steve Foucault, and both conceded that Brownlie’s much-publicized loss in velocity may have something to do with him gripping the ball too tight. I asked the friendly Rutgers standout about the importance of his secondary pitches considering his velocity loss…and well, for that quote, you’ll just have to stay tuned for my Opening Day stuff.
— The team does not have a closer yet. There are five players on the team with closing experience, but nobody’s been chosen for the role just yet. Several people I spoke with said they would not go with a closer by committee situation – also, Wayne Krenchicki told me that just because there are that many people who can close doesn’t mean he’d have a quick hook with whoever he initially decides to name the closer.
— Here’s how I’d project their Opening Day lineup…
C: John Pachot
1B: Victor Rodriguez
2B: Matt Brunson
SS: Ramon Castro
3B: Corey Smith
LF: Joe Jiannetti
CF: Keith Reed
RF: Jose Herrera
DH: This one’s up in the air right now…could be Smith and maybe Peavey goes to third…Gomes might get a look here as well.
— I spoke to Jim Cerny, Wayne Krenchicki, Steve Foucault, Lipso Nava, Marcus Nettles, Joe Jiannetti, Victor Rodriguez, Corey Smith and Bobby Brownlie for my Opening Day coverage. Big thanks to Cerny and Joe Montefusco for their help yesterday.
Radmanovich To Leave Somerset: According to a Ryan Dunleavy report in The Courier News, slugging OF Ryan Radmanovich will be leaving the Patriots to play for the Edmonton Cracker Cats in the Northern League.
Bentz Sent Home: Of course. In another in a long list of signs that God hates me, the Camden Riversharks have sent P Chad Bentz home. It hasn’t been ruled out that he could return later this season, but he didn’t show up in good shape and didn’t appear to be ready to pitch.
Lefty Aric LeClair will take his place, acquired in a “trade” with the Nashua Pride.
Hidalgo Retires; Erdos Signs: Ducks OF Richard Hidalgo, another person I was looking forward to speaking with, has retired. Filling his roster spot is All-Star closer Todd Erdos, who has 40 saves in his Ducks career.
Brown Out, AL Vet returns?: With Patriots OF Adrian Brown out with personal reasons, the team may turn to a player with previous Atlantic League experience…but not with the Patriots. Stay tuned.