The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Running Diary of a Spring Training Game

Posted by Blake Murphy on March 3, 2008

This article has been submitted by “Easy Yi” Erik Arnold.

12:29 – It’s March 2nd on a cool winter day in Toronto, but there’s Blue Jays baseball on TV and spring is in the air!

12:30 – Today’s game is broadcast on CityTV which is certainly a first. We should get our first look at the new infield duo of Eckstein and Rolen, plus Burnett will start his first ST game. Maybe we’ll even get a chance to see Reds uber-prospects Jay Bruce and Joey Votto (a native of T-dot and former high school star at Richview High).

12:31 PM – Cito Gaston throws out the opening pitch and it’s a strike! Cito’s still got it!

12:35 – Lineups are in and we get to see Jay Bruce lead off for the Reds! Jays put out basically their Opening Day lineup minus Alex Rios. Matt Stairs plays in left, Reed in right. Goldie Locks Bronson Arroyo starts for the Reds.

Jays Batting Order
Eckstein, SS
Johnson, LF
Wells, CF
Thomas, DH
Rolen, 3B
Stairs, RF
Overbay, 1B
Hill, 2B
Zaun, C

12:36 – It becomes abundantly clear that CityTV has made no effort to include actual baseball personnel in this broadcast and we’ll have to endure Gord Martineua (douche bag) and Hugh Burrill on the play-by-play.

12:44 – Gord openly admits that he’s not familiar with any of the Reds players. It’s pretty clear he’s not even familiar with the Jays players.

12:45 – Burnett looks pretty good in his first inning. It looks like he has good movement on his pitches and is throwing strikes, both of which are important to his game. When Burnett is throwing his power curveball for strikes, he is straight up unhittable.

12:50 – David Eckstein takes his first official AB as a Jay and grounds out to first. I’m not a big fan of Eckstein and tend to think that his game is a bit overrated. Nonetheless, our commitment to him is minimal and I think if he can make some improvements to his defensive game he’ll be a nice improvement over Johnny Mac at the plate.

12:57 – It’s been 27 minutes: Gord and Hugh have exhausted just about every baseball cliché available to them. After several shots of the crowd, I’ve concluded that the average age of the spectators is pushing 65.

12:59 – Jay Bruce steps up with runners on the corners and 2 outs and unleashes a 2 run double. What a beautiful, compact swing! If Dusty Baker lets this guy play, he is going to flat-out rake. Dusty has a reputation for killing rookies, but he’s going to have a very difficult time keeping Bruce out of the lineup. His only handcuff to playing time is Ryan Freel and a healthy Ken Griffey…so not really a handcuff at all. Take note fantasy baseball players, we have a Ryan Braun in the making. 2-0 Reds.

1:04 – CityTV shows a slow-motion replay of Frank Thomas running out a groundball. We get it, he’s slow.

1:05 – Rolen’s first official AB as a Jay goes quietly with a lazy fly ball. All this guy has to do this year is hit .280 and chip in 20HR. If he can manage that, I think we’ve made a vast improvement over Troy Glaus once you factor in Rolen’s contributions on the defensive side of the ball. I think this deal alone will have the biggest impact on the ‘08 season.

1:11 – Holy shit, Zaun just threw out a runner. It MUST be spring training!

1:18 – New acquisition Lance Carter finishes his first inning as a Jay. He was a former all-star with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and was a nice pick-up. Experienced bullpen depth at minimal cost… sign me up!

1:20 – Eckstein gets a hold of a pitch and hits it about as far as possible: 300 feet and an easy out. His OPS (Slugging + On Base Percentage) is going to be pretty ugly this year. Let’s just hope he can make some productive outs.

1:27 – Katherine Humphries interviews Jeremy Accardo. Whether you are a JP Ricciardi lover or hater, you have to admit that that the Accardo for Hillenbrand/Chulk trade was one of the best in recent memory. When you consider that we HAD to get rid of Shea (for obvious reasons), Chulk for Accardo was an absolute STEAL. Best quote ever about Shea Hillenbrand goes to the guys at

“Beyond synthesizing carbon dioxide so that somewhere a tree may grow, it’s unclear what value he provides and it’s probably not worth the headache to find out.”

1:35 – Vernon Wells with an ugly strikeout. We’ve seen enough of that in the last year. He claims that his struggles last season stemmed from that shoulder injury and I hope he’s right. His power was completely zapped and he was really overcompensating with big-time uppercut swings. If his power returns, his overall skills should take over and I think he’ll be able to put together a nice season. Still a big “if.”

1:42 – Matt Stairs rips an RBI single down the line and engages in a lengthy conversation with the first base coach (presumably inquiring as to the likelihood that a Beer and Hot Dog could be delivered to him at first). 2-1 Reds.

1:43 – Stairs remains at first with Joey Votto manning the bag. Ernie Whitt is acting as 1B coach this afternoon making it 3 Canadians in a 3 foot radius. No doubt, they’re talking some puck. Little do they know, the Flyers and Rangers have combined for 6 goals in the 1st period of today’s afternoon game. Let’s hope none of our readers bet the under!

1:55 – We’ve now seen Shawn Camp and Randy Wells over the last two innings. Nothing much to report, but we get more bullpen depth so it’s all good.

1:59 – A Jays commercial shows us a shot of the “Jays #1 Fan”, an older woman who I’m sure many would recognize if they’ve sat in the 500 section over the years. If you’re not familiar with her, she was the one will all the pins on her Jersey and she was at every game. Unfortunately, she passed away in early January of a heart attack. She’ll certainly be missed.

2:01 – Buck Coats slams a 2-run HR over the right field wall! Besides having an awesome name, Coats has some skill at the plate and will be competing for that 25th spot of the roster… the situation in the OF gets more and more crowded by the day. 3-2 Jays.

2:10 – The pride of Toronto, Joey Votto, steps up and blasts a deep shot that is caught on the warning track. He’s another guy that will fight for playing time this year in Cincy and could make a big impact. Between Homer Bailey, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, the Reds have some the most promising young players in the majors.

2:20 – Non-Roster-Invitee Jeremy Cummings steps in and looks pretty terrible. Some bad defense doesn’t help, but he gets blasted by just about every batter en route to an inning ending strikeout and one Reds run. Cummings? Blasted? That’s what she said? Tied 3-3.

2:25 – Matt Stairs blasts a solo HR into next week. Coats has a HR, Stairs has a HR. Still waiting on the reply from Shannon Stewart and Reed Johnson in that battle for left field. A few pitches later, Overbay with a double and super-utility man Joe Inglett with an RBI single. 5-3 Jays.

2:35 – In an interview, Alex Rios concedes that he would probably lose in a fight with Roger Clemens’ wife. After all, she is on the ‘roids!

2:40 – Francisco Cordero enters the game . Cordero is a fresh import from the Brew-Crew and is meant to give the Reds a stabilizing force in their bullpen. Bringing a fly-ball closer into the biggest home-run park in America? Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

2:42 – Super prospect Travis Snider blasts an RBI single to left field. Somewhere in Kingston, Ontario, Blake Murphy creams his pants. 6-3 Jays.

2:53 – Thorpe and Romero turn in back-to-back innings. Romero finishes his with an emphatic strikeout. Good to see this guy healthy and I look forward to seeing what he can do. However, Romero gives up a run and we’ve got a ballgame. 6-4 Jays.

2:57 – Jason Frasor’s fiancé makes an appearance in a brief interview, doing nothing to dispel the stereotypes of ballplayer’s wives…just goes to show that being a bullpen pitcher really is the greatest job in sports: little pressure, days off and all the benefits to go along with it.

3:05 – Joe Inglett hits a 2-run HR and pretty much puts this one on the books. After an embarrassing error where Joe thought there were 3 outs (but there were only 2), Joe goes 2 for 2 with 3 RBI. 8-4 Jays.

3:10 – Reds go 1-2-3 in the 9th and this one is over. Jays grab their first win of Spring Training and look pretty good doing it. Most of the pitchers were throwing strikes and the Jays hitters were putting some pretty good swings together. Player of the game goes to Buck Coats who went 2 for 2 with 3 RBI, 2 runs and a stolen base. Honorable mention goes to Matt Stairs who blasted a homer of his own and unofficially killed 3 hot dogs and 8 beers between innings. Dishonorable mention goes to Vernon Wells who looked ugly going 0-3. Nonetheless, there’s still plenty of time for him to make adjustments between now and April.

That’s it Jays Fans, another spring game in the books and we’re one step closer to the Season opener in the Bronx. Keep your heads up for this week’s Podcast where I’ll be joining Blake and talking some baseball. Until then, stay warm!

FINAL SCORE: Jays 8, Reds 4

This article has been submitted by “Easy Yi” Erik Arnold.

One Response to “Running Diary of a Spring Training Game”

  1. stu Says:

    I had no idea David Eckstein was on the Jays. Pretty damn funny that the TV guy admitted he knew nothing about the Reds. I nominate him for honorary GMIL membership.

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