Grabbed some bagels and coffee, filled up the tank. Picked up my buddy Jeff at his place, hit the freeway a little after 7:30 Sunday morning.
Got to Yuma around 11:15 local time. Realized we had no idea where the stadium was. Stopped at a Circle K for directions; the woman who helped us seemed vaguely aware of what we were talking about and pointed us in the right direction. Fifteen minutes later we found ourselves in the parking lot of the appropriately named Desert Sun Stadium.
The weather forecast had said it would be 84 that day, which felt about right. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Six bucks got us both in the door. Seating was general admission, so we dropped ourselves down behind the plate, four rows up. The Padres were taking batting practice. After several rounds, the grounds crew came out, raked a little, threw some water on the field, and laid down the baselines. For a field out in the middle of the desert that doesn’t get a lot of use, it looked pretty nice by the time they were done.
Can’t remember the exact lineup, but I do know that Todd Donovan led off. Khalil Greene batted third, Jake Gautreau sixth. Chris Rojas took the mound for the Pads and had trouble finding the plate. He didn’t escape the third inning.
For the Diamondbacks’ part, their lone true prospect was Chad Tracy. The rest of the guys who made the trip were veterans: Doug Henry, Scott Service, Jerry Spradlin, Mike Bell, and the like. Ultimate junkballer Jason Jacome got the start for the Arizona squad.
Some observations from the game:
- Paul McAnulty, the Pads’ 2002 12th-round pick out of Long Beach State, is very large (although not as large as Arizona’s Steve Neal, who is listed at 6-2, 260). He didn’t do much in the game but it looks like he has a nice stroke.
- Jake Gautreau launched a mammoth homer to right off Henry, the Brewers’ closer back in the early ’90s.
- Khalil Greene looked sluggish at the plate and in the field. He kept trying to pull Jacome’s outside slop, with little success. Defensively, Greene made a weak effort on one less-than-stellar throw from the outfield, which allowed a runner to take an extra base. He also failed to go after a foul popup down the left-field line. In fairness, it ended up not being playable, but that didn’t stop the Ben Risinger or Vince Faison from trying to chase it down. All in all, it was a pretty down day for Greene. I’ve seen him play much better than that, so I don’t place a lot of stock in what he did Sunday. He was just having a bad day.
- Faison made a couple nice plays in left and also hit a line drive homer to right center off reliever David Cortes. His stroke looked a bit shorter than I’d remembered, though I’m hardly an expert in such matters.
- Josh Barfield looked good in batting practice but didn’t do much in a limited opportunity during the game. He’s a guy I’m really looking forward to seeing at Elsinore this year.
- Cory Stewart, despite his line, pitched very well. He coughed up a big home run after "missing" with a pitch that should have been called a strike to end the inning. The plate umpire had an inconsistent zone, and Stewart appeared to be victimized (and bothered) by it more than anyone else.
- Justin Germano looked good. He’s another I’m excited to see at Elsinore. He must have some movement on his fastball because he was able to jam some right-handed hitters despite the lack of overpowering velocity. Germano also featured a nice breaking ball (as did Stewart).
The game ended in a 7-7 tie after 10 innings (though by my accounting, with better umpiring the Pads win, 8-4). Afterward, we took an extremely circuitous route to the Carl’s Jr. over on 16th Street. Ate burgers, then waited in line for $1.83/gallon gas along with everyone else who was headed to California.
Listened to some great tunes on the return trip, thanks to Jeff, who is my connection to the indie music world. Bands like Wilco, Modest Mouse, Calexico, Flaming Lips. Stuff I’m not really hip enough to listen to on my own but which I nevertheless enjoy a great deal.
Talked about Kant, Descartes, existentialism, and the general utility (or not) of philosophy as an end in itself. Pondered the ambiguity of war. You know, the usual road trip faire.
Twelve hours after we’d first headed east on I-8, we were back home: exhausted and beaten by the sun, yet thoroughly satisfied. Baseball with a wood bat had returned. What could possibly be better?
I think about baseball, therefore I am…