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Friday, March 31, 2006

Impressions from 3/30/06 Spring Training Game

Tonight I got to watch my first Reds spring training game of the season. It was great to see these guys play, even if Griffey, Dunn, and Valentin all had the day off. Here are some random thoughts:
  • Obviously, the biggest news from today's game was the superb and I mean superb performance of Bronson Arroyo. The most exciting thing to me about his performance to me was not so much that he didn't allow a run over 7 innings (though that was nice exciting), but that he struck out nine batters. As I mentioned in my post on the trade, his strikeout numbers fell off dramatically last year, and a big part of his performance this season will likely be determined by whether or not he can get those totals back up nearer to his '04 numbers when he averaged over 7 k/9's. To see him getting so many strikeouts was very encouraging. It's a shame that I didn't get to see his 4th inning (Selig got in my way), when he struck out the side, but even so, what I saw was very encouraging. He was hitting his spots, had good movement (as far as I can tell) on his breaking pitches, etc.
  • Rick White looked solid if unspectacular. Another Weathers from what I can tell. Mike Burns wasn't quite as impressive. He was wild over his first half-inning, but induced a double play to finish it up 1-2-3. I am rooting for Ryan Wagner to win the job over Burns (I'll justify that later, though there are reasons).
  • I like watching Freel hit. He's fearless; not afraid to get two strikes, and he battles pitches well from two strikes counts.. He didn't get on base today, but his approach will result (as it already has in his career) in him drawing a lot of walks from the leadoff spot. Nice to see.
  • I was not as excited about Brian Buchanan. He swung at the first pitch in all three at-bats that I saw (I missed one due to the Selig press conference). This includes the first pitch he saw by knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. I'm sure he's pressing, but I'm a fan of working the count and trying to get a good pitch to hit, as well as giving yourself a chance to take a walk.
  • Jacob Cruz, unfortunately, might have clinched his fate with this game. He came up three times with runners in scoring position, but went 0-4 w/ a strikeout and failed to get anyone home, even with men on 2nd and 3rd with one out in the 8th. It's hard for a team like the Reds that carries 12 pitchers to carry a pinch-hitting specialist that cannot play defense. And if that pinch hitter doesn't hit, I just don't see the Reds continuing to use him. Besides, if a lefty pinch hitter is needed, maybe we should go get Lenny Harris..?
I have a few other comments that I want to make about tonight's broadcast, but I'm going to give those their own headers. -JinAZ