‘On The Road With psugator02’ – Spring Training Road Trip – Day 6
All over Phoenix
Thursday, March 17
8:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Getting pulled over by the female cop after a long day of graphing really could’ve put a damper on things. But alas, she gave me a warning. I’m driving a rental and didn’t realize the brights were on. Started the day driving to the Oakland complex but didn’t realize the workouts were closed to the public. Chose Goodyear and arrived just in time.
at Indians’ complex
Fausto Carmona: 2/2 (’08 Ginters) in blue Sharpie. Still one of the best signers in all of MLB
Asdrubal Cabrera: 1/1 (’10 Ginter)
Vinnie Pestano: 2/2 (cards) in blue Sharpie
Travis Hafner: 1/1 (’09 Ginter) in blue Sharpie…He does it but he doesn’t seem to enjoy it
Trevor Crowe: 3/3 (cards) in blue Sharpie. Really nice kid.
Jon Nunnally: 1/1 (card) in blue Sharpie. Corrected me when I told him that I saw him with a woman last year at the Angels’ complex. “I need to tell you right now that I wasn’t with any women at that stadium last year.” LOL. Wasn’t trying to get you divorced, Jon. I was just making conversation. One of the nicest guys in all of MLB. He trained in Baseball City a year after Conine. Told me about a blind pianist in Hollywood, Fla., that he used to love listening to.
Carlos Santana: 0/1 as he was boarding the bus to the game. I was the only grapher there. “I don’t have time,” Santana told me.
Somehow missed Sizemore, Choo and Sandy Alomar, who I believe all walked around
at Royals’ backfields
Arrived a little early for Rangers’ pre-game BP so I drove over to the Royals’ minor-league fields and wasn’t disappointed.
Michael Olt: 4/4 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie. Offered him the fourth photo, but he told me to keep it. He laughed when I told him I just chose him in my fantasy draft. Also told him that he was recently ranked the 156th best prospect in baseball and that Baseball America says he has the best power in the system. He says he follows none of that. Played in the Triple-A scrimmage I witnessed, but starting 2011 at that level seems a bit premature even if he did play in college.
Christian Colon: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie. He personalizes photos.
Danny Duffy: 4/4 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie. Asked whether he really took time off from baseball to pursue the priesthood. “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet,” Duffy told me.
George Brett: 1/1 (Perez-Steele) in blue Sharpie. You can really tell that he hates signing, but now that he’s part of the front office I guess he feels obligated.
Steve Buechele: Confirmed that he did, in fact, attend spring training at the old Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium. When he told me as much, I replied, “Sweet.” Said Buechele: “Actually (the place) sucked.”
Colby Lewis: 1/2 (8×10) in blue Sharpie
Mike Maddux: 0/1 (card)…not a soul around who even wanted his graph
Willie Wilson: He was there but I didn’t consider him ball-worthy
Spike Owen: He would’ve signed but I didn’t need him. Thought he had a nickname so I asked him. He said he couldn’t recall ever having a nickname. Also said “Spike” is his given name
Notes: Talked to a scout who gushed about Rangers’ RHP Neil Ramirez. Said his FB sat 93-98 and that he has a plus curve and a plus changeup. “A No. 3?” I asked. “I really like him,” the scout said, implying that he could front a rotation. … Texas RHP Yhency Brazoban got lit up in the Double-AA scrimmage.
at Rangers’ backfields
Derek Holland: 2/2 (8x10s) in blue Sharpie with “Dutch Oven” inscription, which he does automatically. Said he umpires in the offseason. According to a story he told, a coach came out of the dugout to argue a call, claiming Holland didn’t know the rules. Holland finally grew frustrated so he told the coach, “You do realize that I’m Derek Holland and that I pitch for the Texas Rangers?”
Mitch Moreland: 0/1..only signed for kids
Ian Kinsler: 0/1 Left through the CF fence and didn’t sign
Brandon Webb: He signed but I must have been on the Royals’ side ‘cuz I missed him
Josh Hamilton: 1/1 (11×14) in the black Sharpie he ran with. It was in a crowd but it still came out OK
at Chik-Fil-A in Surprise
Drove from Surprise to Peoria to watch the Rangers at Padres game. Was in the middle lane when I looked to my right. In the lane next to me was a young kid in a monster truck with flame tattoos on his left arm, which he hung out the window. I knew right away who it was. I watched as he and the coach he was with pulled into the drive-thru at the Chik-Fil-A I had just eaten at that afternoon. I pulled in behind them, waited for them to order and then got out of the car and walked up with the SI.
“I swear I didn’t follow you, Josh. You happened to be in the lane next to me. Would you mind signing my SI?” Hamilton laughed, shook his head, and signed it with the blue Sharpie I provided. “This isn’t good food to be eating before a game, is it?” I asked Hamilton. “Man, if you ever saw the food in that clubhouse, you’d eat at Chik-Fil-A, too,” Hamilton told me.
Josh Hamilton: 1/1 (SI) in blue Sharpie
at Padres/Mariners in Surprise, pregame, near dugout
Everth Cabrera: 2/2 (’09 Ginters) in blue Sharpie. The usher who works the section to the right of the Padres’ dugout does a great job getting graphers to line up
Dave Roberts: 1/1 (’08 Ginter) in blue Sharpie. “Do you miss the Red Sox?” I asked him. “I always have a place in my heart for Boston,” Roberts told me.
in the section of seats behind the Padres’ dugout before the game
Talked to a grapher as I soon as I arrived. He told me how he had gotten Dave Winfield at 4:45 p.m. as the Padres walked from the backfields to the stadium. I was a bit jealous. Not two minutes later Winfield appeared out of the dugout. I tried to get his attention. “Hey Dave, would you sign my book? It’s absolutely worthless,” I yelled, wanting to emphasize that I did not intend to sell his graph, which I’ve been told really irks him. Winfield turned around and laughed. He left the field and walked to the section of seats between home and the first-base dugout. I tried to shadow him. I finally caught up to him and asked again if he’d sign. He didn’t want to create a mob scene so he told me to walk with him for a few minutes. He asked me my name and I told him, then I told him how I grew up watching the Yankees, who trained five minutes from me throughout my childhood. I actually graphed Winfield in the late ’80s when I was 14. He didn’t remember the story. He asked where I grew up and I told him. I then told him that I didn’t realize he worked in the Padres’ front office. That’s when he handed me a Padres’ media guide. “Turn it to page 137 (at least I think it was 137),” he told me. I did, and there was a picture of Winfield. I then asked him about Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo, the two prospects the Padres acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Winfield knew nothing about them, which I thought was a little odd. For almost five minutes, Winfield and I rapped. He actually put his hand on my right shoulder as we walked. He genuinely seemed interest in talking to me, which I thought was sort of cool.
Dave Winfield: 1/1 (baseball book) in blue Sharpie
at “Autograph Alley” after the starters were pulled
Jorge Cantu: 1/1 (Marlins’ magazine) in black Sharpie he was running with
Cameron Maybin: 1/1 (8×10) in blue Sharpie. “You’re missed in Jupiter,” I told Maybin. “Thanks, brother,” he said.
Heath Bell: He signed but all I had was a ROMLB and I didn’t think he was worthy
Kyle Blanks: signed but didn’t need him
Chase Headley: signed but didn’t need him
A shout-out to Chad Qualls, who was a real class act. An 8-year-old slipped on the ledge in “Autograph Alley” and Qualls was cool enough to get the kid ice from the clubhouse.