First place in the Grapefuit league!I got to watch the first few innings of the first spring training game from work (Nats over Mets, 5-3), but the video was pretty choppy. Now I'm at home and watching the game on Tivo, but I've gotten only 2 hours of sleep in the last 50 hours, so I haven't been as observant as I'd like to be, and I pretty much stopped paying attention to anyone who doesn't have a chance to make the 25-man roster.
Ultimately, of course, one game, particularly the first spring game, is way too small a sample size. But then again, impressions can affect roster decisions, so we can build some insight. The announcers were keenly aware of all the firsts... the first hit, the first HR, etc. I wasn't too concerned with any of it... it's a spring training game, it doesn't mean much!
Tony Armas started, and pitched two innings. His first inning was 1-2-3, but there were a lot of pitches that were stupidly outside. He did seem to put it over the plate when he needed to do so. After falling behind the first batter 3-0, he managed to throw three straight strikes (the third being popped up into the infield in foul territory). In the second inning, he led off with a four pitch walk, but all the pitches were right around the plate. He looked much sharper, and gave up no hits. His fastball topped out at 90.
Jose Guillen had an interesting day. In his first PA, he got hit by a pitch throw by Galvine. He tried stealing second, and he was rediculously slow... it was about as bad as I imagine Roger Clemens would be. Then he hit a monster 2-run shot in his second at bat.
Mike Hinkley pitched second, and also went two innings. He looked fine in his first inning, but fell apart in the second, giving up hit after hit. He even made an error, when he could have gotten himself out of the inning with an easy double play. I'm pretty sure that this won't leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth, and he'll keep getting the ball this spring. Even if he doesn't, we're not going to see him until September, so how he pitches in the minors is what's really going to matter... he could suck the entire spring, and nobody will care.
Jon Rauch eventually got the chance to pitch, and I thought he looked sharp. He gave up a run, but it was unearned. Endy Chavez dropped a routine fly ball in center field, then almost immediately, Jeff Hammons badly misjudged a fly ball, that ended up sailing over his head.
Chavez not only dropped that ball, he went 0-fer, and didn't look too comfortable at the plate. Maybe he feels pressure to have a good spring training, especially because Sledge is already off to a hot start (2-2).
Not long after the two fielding errors, ESPN was interviewing Frank Robinson, who is extremely personable. He was quite stressed about the sloppy play. When asked where he was going to eat, he said it depended on how the game played out, because he wasn't really hungry. They asked whether he was stressing the game, and Frank replied, "Absolutely. Any time you put the uniform on, you don't want to look sloppy." After that, Frank even argued hard with the ump over a blown call (they called the infield fly rule where the fielder had a hard time tracking and couldn't even catch the ball... it certainly wasn't 'routine', and F-Rob was right. But it was fun to see him argue! After the interview, Frank stayed on the headset for most of the game, listening to the broadcast. And, he occasionally chimed in.