I was going to head over to Hammond Stadium on Saturday but it was raining and the wind was blowing so I decided to wait until Sunday and catch the Rochester versus New Britain and Ft. Myers versus Cedar Rapids games. I got there a few minutes before the games started at Noon on a beautiful sunny Sunday in Ft. Myers. Hammond Stadium sat empty and the crowds at each minor league field were small and the players sitting in the stands that were not suited up for these games easily out numbered the fans.
The Twins left Kyle Gibson behind in Ft. Myers so he could pitch in one of these games and sure enough he was the starting pitcher for New Britain. The first two innings went smoothly for Gibson but in the third inning the Red Wings hit Gibson all over the field as he gave up 6 hits and 5 earned runs. In that inning it appeared that everything he threw to the plate was hit hard and Gibson would throw the pitch and high-tail it over to back up third base. To me Gibson looked really frustrated and appeared to have lost his composure. He calmed down after that but an inning or so later he took a hard shot off his left shin but chased the ball down only to throw it wildly to first base. After five innings it was decided that Gibson had enough and he left the game having given up 8 hits and 5 runs. Not exactly what Gibson or the Twins were looking for.
On the other field a player that caught my attention was outfielder Jeremias Pineda. Pineda who is scheduled to start the season with Cedar Rapids this year was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in August 2012 in the Danny Valencia trade. The 23-year-old Pineda is a 5-11, 175 pound switch-hitter from the Dominican Republic, signed by the Red Sox in 2011. I am not sure how much of a prospect Pineda really is but on this day he stood out because of his speed and hustle. I watched him hit a hard ground ball to third that he beat out easily because of speed and hustle although the third baseman might have made it a closer play had he not waited on the ball. Later in the game Pineda was on first base when the batter hit a routine double play ball just a few steps to the left of second. The shortstop decided to touch second and then complete the double play by throwing to first. Turns out that was easier said then done as Pineda beat the shortstop to the bag at second. Speed and hustle again and it brought a lot of comments and head shaking from both teams.
It was fun to watch these Twins minor league teams play and learn the game. One player who will remain nameless hit a grounder to third that he apparently thought was foul and he didn’t move out of the batters box, turns out it was fair and the third baseman made an easy throw to first for the out. As the batter sheepishly walked back to the dugout it was easy to hear his manager tell him, “it is Sunday today, we are running them all out today”.
I took a bunch of pictures again today and I hope to get them uploaded later today. Not sure if this is my last visit to Hammond Stadium this year or not but I have enjoyed every minute of spring training here in Ft. Myers., almost time to head for home.