CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sometimes us sportwriters get so caught up in our lives working around the game that we forget why we got into it in the first place. Tonight provided a great opportunity to remind myself why I cover baseball.
Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater is a great spring training stadium, but its fatal flaw is its pressbox, especially for us visiting scribes who are forced into the second row. It’s difficult to see the field with the thick dividers between each window. So, a few of us writers grabbed our notepads, pens and score sheets and headed outside. It was fun to actually sit outside and take in a game — much like I did back in the days of simply being a fan.
Robert MacLeod of the Toronto Globe and Mail actually went down into the stands to sit with his son behind the Phils’ dugout and he nearly got taken out by a flying bat. Philly outfielder Pat Burrell lost the grip on his bat on a swing and the lumber bounced off the top of the dugout and into the row in front of MacLeod. The bat injured one woman’s hand, but Rob escaped unscathed.
INJURED LIST: Third baseman Troy Glaus received a cortisone shot in his left shoulder and is expected to miss a couple games. Toronto manager John Gibbons and a team official each said the injury wasn’t serious. … LHP Davis Romero, on the other hand, is out with a torn labrum. He had surgery on his shoulder on Thursday and will miss all of ’07. … After a brief visit to Minor League camp this morning, I learned that Travis Snider — Toronto’s top pick in last year’s draft — is out with a stiff lat muscle. He’ll sit out of workouts and Minor League games for about a week.
THE RACE CONTINUES: RHP Josh Towers had another strong start on Thursday, giving up just one run over four innings against the Phils in an 11-6 win. He said he felt strong in the first two innings, when his slider was working well, but his command faltered in the third and fourth. Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said Towers felt his mechanics were slightly off, and they’d work on correcting the issue this week. Still, it was the third strong start in a row for Towers, who is in the mix for a rotation job.
HE SAID IT: "It’s starting to define itself just a little bit. … Hopefully, it comes down to the wire and it comes down to the last couple days. You always want your decisions to be tough decisions, because that usually means you’ve got four or five guys throwing the ball pretty well." — Arnsberg, on the rotation competition
TAKE A LOOK AT: MLB.com’s Lisa Winston stopped by Toronto’s Minor League camp this past week. I sat down with Travis Snider this afternoon at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin.
GO GREEN: My Michigan State Spartans "upset" Marquette today, 61-49, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Tom Izzo is leading his troops into the Thrilling 32! OK, so there’s no fancy name for the second round, but with UNC looming, I have to soak in this round-one victory while I can. I took some abuse for wearing my MSU hat to work today, too (whistling the fight song probably didn’t help my cause).
CHEERS: Near the end of the Jays-Phils game, those of us in the pressbox were drawn to a TV for the end of the Duke-VCU NCAA tourney game. VCU hit a clutch shot at the end and the whole press corps burst into loud cheers — loud enough that fans in the stands below were turned around, looking up at the pressbox to see what the heck was going on. Hilarious.
YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP: While sitting outside during the Jays game, struck up a conversation with a former NYPD officer who once upon a time worked Yankees home games. He said there was one game where he was stationed in the tunnel between the home dugout and the clubhouse, and Roger Clemens kept walking by him throughout his start. So, after Clemens strolled past him during one particular inning, the policeman thought it’d be nice to simply say, "Hello." Well, shortly thereafter, Clemens gave up a hit to ruin a no-hitter and he blamed the cop’s mid-game greeting. The policeman was then forced to move to a different part of the stadium.
TAKING A BREAK: I won’t be traveling to Sarasota for Friday’s Jays game against the Reds. Roy Halladay will be pitching for Toronto, and the game update will be on bluejays.com. I’m taking the day off to try to shake this cough that keeps bugging me, and so I can pick up my wife from the airport. I’ll also be taking Saturday off as well, but someone will be filling in for me for the home game against Detroit. I’ll be back at it on Sunday for the Toronto game in Kissimmee versus Houston.
Stay tuned for more…