October! When a Tribe fan's fancy turns to.........spring training.
So I stopped into Goodyear, land of strip malls, big boxes and gated residential developments, to see how the facility was going and to maybe catch the final Fall Instructional game of the year. The ST park can be summed up in a single word: Construction. Everywhere. Can't get near the place. If it's not ready by February 12, it will not be for lack of effort.
Major league park, viewed from the parking lot at the development complex:
The minor league and development area, where the game was played, looks pretty much complete. Some new construction is beginning on the Reds' facilities. But the big action is all around the major league park.
As for the game, the Dodger farm hands took out their organizational frustration on the young Tribesters, 10-1. I think the Indians managed 4 hits. Nathan Recknagel looked especially overmatched. Darling Read smacked a hard double his first time up, then was thrown out at third on a ground ball to short (hence the name, instructional league).
Curtis "Trey" Haley started and showed nothing, except wildness. He seemed to throw nothing but fastballs, which fooled no one. When he did find the strike zone, the hitters tended to find the gaps and the outfield walls. Curtis got a good workout backing up home plate. He didn't record the third out in any of the three innings he pitched.
How so? There seems to be some kind of voluntary mercy rule. Three times, including in the first two innings, the Dodgers' 3B coach (Shoemaker) at some point yelled "let's roll up this inning," and everyone walked off the field. He did it in the 1st after Haley hit a batter to load the bases with only one run in. He did it in the second with Haley getting his brains bashed in. Trey was finally lifted during another bloodbath in the third, surrendering, officially and mercifully, only seven runs.
Another oddity: The Indians used a ten-man batting order. There was no PA, so I just wrote down every name and number as the batters came up, then tried to match them with their positions in the field. The Indians used ten batters, two of whom did not play a position. They went through this ten-man lineup three times, (with some subs, as noted).
Trent Baker CF (Timothy Fedroff)
Lonnie Chisenhall SS
Number 79 (no name) 3B (Jeremie Tice)
Abner Abreu RF (Adam Abraham)
Nathan Recknagel 1B
Darling Read DH1
Tim Palincsar LF
Kevin Rucker DH2
Rolando Petit C (Roberto Perez)
Jose Camargo 2B
Curtis Haley P (Eric Berger, Francisco Valera, David Roberts)
But a good reporter has to go where the story is, and I think the story isn't the facility or the game score, but the mysterious Number 79, the only Indian not wearing a name. There was just something about this guy.
Maybe someone can help identify this deep prospect, flying into Goodyear under the radar. (The complex borders an airport, BTW.)
Here is his first AB:
Note the distinctive batting stance, eerily reminiscent of, um,.....well, somehow reminiscent of something.
Here he is in the field, chatting with the great Lonnie Chisenhall:
Bonus coverage of The Chiz, doubles machine, hitting a hard drive the other way, which landed just foul:
The Mysterious One in the field:
Handling a routine play:
Checking his swing on called strike three:
He played five innings before being replaced by Jeremie Tice. For the record, he was not pinch hit for, nor was he called upon to sacrifice.
I wonder if we'll see him in an Indians uniform again. Or did his Tribe career end with a low whimper, called out on strikes in the instructional league?