My final day in Arizona started out with us heading over to the Surprise complex, which is beautiful. It may be one of my favorites. After buying tickets for the afternoon game between the KC Royals and SD Padres, we headed to the practice fields to see what was going on.
Every field was filled with players. The two lower level teams were working on PFPs and infield practice. The upper levels were taking batting practice. It was really cool to see players I covered working on the little things. You could always hear the Latin players offering encouragement or just talking loudly in general.
There were quite a few fans on the practice fields, mainly trying to snag some balls or an autograph from prospects like Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling (who did not sign or acknowledge the fans). I had a chance to see Matt Fields (who I interviewed last season) hit a few bombs during BP (unfortunately that didn’t translate to the later game).
I was expecting a big crowd as we headed to the main field, but just over 4,000 showed up on the steamy afternoon. Many in attendance were disappointed in the players who came to play, as most of the regulars for both teams did not show. Prior to the game, one of the Royals coaches called out the Latin players and made them sign autographs.
I wasn’t one of the disappointed, as I got to see the minor leaguers come back and beat the big league Padres pitching, 7-5. In the 8th inning, the Royals scored four runs, capped by Alex Llanos’ two-run single. Angel Franco followed with an RBI single. In that inning, the minor leaguers collected five hits and walked twice (all of them were guys who played in Wilmington over the last two seasons).
Dan Wheeler pitched a quick and perfect ninth for another spring save. He has pitched well and I would love for him to win that final bullpen spot, but I think Ned Yost needs to get him into games against some big league hitting.
Will Smith allowed the homerun ball in his short start, including a two-run bomb to Nick Hundley. His errant pickoff throw aided in the Padres’ two-run 3rd inning. Luke Hochevar looked great out of the bullpen over his two perfect innings of work. Louis Coleman and Nate Adcock followed with fairly quick innings before the Royals minor league offense came to life in the eighth.
There was a scary moment in the game, when Billy Butler (who was playing first base) went to catch a foul pop near the first base dugout. He fell what looked from my seat to be head first into the dugout with no Padres players catching him. He came out of the dugout (with no coaches coming to check on him) and played the rest of his allotted time before heading out and signing some autographs.
David Lough continues to impress this spring, as he picked up two more hits in the start in right field. Max Ramirez also collected two hits.
After the game, we headed for our last game of our trip, in Goodyear. We checked out the Cincinnati Reds play the Colorado Rockies, mainly to see Chris Nelson (whose uncle works with my dad). Unfortunately, he went 0-for-3 and struck out in his final at-bat.
Todd Helton hit a two-run homerun in the 4th inning off Reds starter Johnny Cueto and Ben Paulsen hit a pinch-hit two-run homer off Armando Galarraga in the seventh to give the Rockies the 5-1 win.
It was a fireworks game (which I am not a fan of), so we left in the ninth inning to beat the crazy traffic. Plus, we had some annoying kids sitting behind us on the berm. I got kicked in the back one too many times and our blanket kept being trampled on by them. Plus, their dad asked me why I was taking a picture of former Royal Derrick Robinson (who was playing for the Reds). One of these times, I am going to say something smart like “because I feel like it” when people ask me why I am taking a picture of a certain player. Really, why is it their business?
I’ll be up early on Saturday, as I have a 9am flight home to Philly. I’ll be back on the East Coast sometime after 5pm. Hopefully, the flight home will be less stressful than the trip out to Arizona was. I will try to post game pictures from my trip onto this site’s FACEBOOK page in the coming days. I have a ton of them!
*The Royals also played at night against the LA Dodgers at Camelback. Yordano Ventura was on the mound and got a little rocked for the first time this spring. He allowed three runs on five hits over just three innings. The Dodgers got to the Royals bullpen, as Everett Teaford allowed three runs in the fifth (but none were earned).
The Royals collected just six hits and Alex Gordon collected two of them.
Bruce Chen will take the hill on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. He will also be the first Royals pitcher to hit this spring. Salvador Perez will finally get a day off (he caught Wade Davis today in a minor league game) and will catch James Shields in a Sunday minor league game. Michael Mariot will pitch in relief of Chen.
**The USA lost to Puerto Rico, so Eric Hosmer and Tim Collins should re-join the team sometime soon in Surprise. Irving Falu is now headed to San Francisco for the World Baseball Classic semifinals. As is Kelvin Herrera with the Dominican Republic.