The tricky thing about spring training is figuring out what means anything. I guess that’s no different from the rest of life, but when someone tells me that Chase Headley has a boatload of RBI in the Cactus League, what am I supposed to do? “How nice for him,” I could say as I smile, pretending that I give a rat’s… that I care.
Then there’s the whole emphasis on speed and baserunning meme that has infected camp this spring. It’s fun, and it gives us something to watch, but I doubt we’ll be calling Adrian Gonzalez “Go-Go” anytime soon, unless we develop a Daltreyesque speech impediment.
Still, what else are you going to do in spring? And there are compelling stories — the impression Matt Antonelli and Logan Forsythe have made, the fact that Tim Stauffer apparently has made the staff. Antonelli and Stauffer are easy guys to root for, former first-round picks who fell on hard times and who are trying to resuscitate their careers. Who doesn’t love a good redemption tale?
As for Forsythe, he may play second base, he may play third. That will work itself out in due time. Meanwhile, Padres Assistant General Manager Jason McLeod had some complimentary words for the young man from Arkansas, calling Forsythe “a special defender at third” and noting that when McLeod worked in Boston’s front office, the Red Sox “thought highly of him and almost took him in the first round” of the 2008 draft.
I’ve watched a few games this spring, mostly in fragments as I try to navigate through a life that has become too busy for my taste. The trip to Peoria never materialized on account of Stuff To Do (TM); oh well, there’s always next year. I’ve caught enough of a glimpse to know that this will be a fun team to watch. Kyle Blanks (whom Peter Gammons calls an “office building”) crushed a ball on Monday against the Diamondbacks, and Will Venable’s stroke looks good.
I put no stock into spring training numbers, but I do pay attention to the actions that produce them. I like what I’m seeing from Blanks and Venable. I like what I’ve seen from Mat Latos and Matt Stairs, the latter of whom keeps smoking line drives right at people with gloves attached to their hands.
I liked watching minor-league right-hander Alexis Lara strike out five batters in 1 2/3 innings to close out Monday night’s victory. I liked watching Heath Bell goof around in the dugout and explain to Channel 4′s Jenny Cavnar that he keeps everyone loose until it’s time to get serious. Then he gets serious.
I liked hearing Cavnar ask Opening Day starter Jon Garland about his choice of music on days he pitches. Garland said it varies: Sometimes it’s reggae, sometimes Metallica. (Hey, why not both?) Mostly, though, he plays what pumps up his teammates. I don’t know what something like that means to the bottom line, but it was nice to hear.
You know what else I like? Solid endings. I don’t have one for this piece, but that’s okay because it’s March and we’ve got a long way to go. Enjoy the ride.