News and notes from Mesa
Just some observations around Hohokam Park today, the first day after the big-league camp moved over from Fitch Park:
–Watched former Rule 5 pick David Patton throw live BP. His got a great breaking ball as most people know, but he had a couple guys turn on him and line singles into right-center.
–Cubs fans filtered into the stadium to watch the team practice. The team is very loose, but the level of camaraderie is as good as it was last year. While much has been made about Milton Bradley’s presence on the team, last year during spring training no one had a problem with him. He was participatory and welcomed.
–Marlon Byrd, a friend of Bradley’s, has assimilated nicely into the clubhouse. In fact, he has been quite vocal laughing and smiling, further increasing the fun quotient. During BP, he was working on hitting to the opposite field where Ryan Theriot was manning second. The BP pitcher–I think it was Alan Trammell–pitched faster and more frequently, Byrd kept shooting line drives to Theriot. Theriot kept diving and getting up, diving and getting up, snagging them all until Byrd finally got one past the goalie. But Theriot earned a nice hand from the crowd, while eliciting a big “whoo!” from Byrd.
–Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro had their fun turning double plays. Castro, a quiet, easy going kid, was all smiles taking throws from “shortstop” Ramirez. But Ramirez showed his shoulder was in top condition when he snagged a liner that was about a foot above his head. That also earned a double take from teammates.
–Another person who earned double takes from teammates was young right-hander Rafael Dolis. The team was just filtering out for stretching while Dolis was throwing early live BP to a group of hitters that included No. 1 pick Brett Jackson. Standing next to Mike Fontenot, he asked what level he was at. I told him Dolis had dealt with some injuries, but I’d lay odds he’s going to be in Class-A Daytona or better. You didn’t need to be a ballplayer to see just how hard Dolis threw. A little buzz raced through the growing impromptu audience. Dolis’ “heavy” ball made a loud thud every time. The audience got a huge “Ohhh!” when Dolis broke Jackson’s bat. Sawed him off right at the handle.
Later, Jackson came by me and said, “Look at that, Mike. Well, that one ain’t coming back.” And he threw down the broken bat in disgust.
To subscribe to Vine Line, visit http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/fan_forum/vineline.jsp