Spring Training-The First Week

Ok-so here I am in Jupiter Florida after watching a few games in The Cactus League the first week.

I haven’t seen Clayton Kershaw throw up high as often as he did on Opening Day at Salt River. And that’s a no no against professional baseball hitters. Kershaw didn’t look comfortable at all on the mound. After he left the game, he threw another 15 pitches in the pen. I have no worries about Kershaw. But it was interesting. Nothing was working for him.

Yes, I noticed that Yasiel Puig looked bigger. It was all in his lower body. I didn’t see any weight gain that impacted his speed on a ringing double he hit to dead left-center. It was a shot that just jumped off his batt. Great, great bat speed.

Brandon McCarthy was playing catch in his first start. He looked as sharp and as confident as I’ve ever seen him. If it keeps up, you’ll see smiles on the Dbacks faces.

I still think J. J. Putz will not give up his closer role to Addison Reed without putting up a fight. But I still think Reed will close. At least to begin the season. We’ll see.

We all talk about Didi Gegorius and Chris Owings being in a battle for the shortstop role in Arizona. But let me tell you–Cliff Pennington is a fine defensive shortstop. He makes all the plays and he has a gun for an arm. A club or two may want him.

Paul Goldschmidt was beaten on pitches up in his eyes. In three weeks he won’t swing at that pitch. For now, however, the high pitch probably looks too good to pass up.

The Indians and Reds both wore new jerseys. The Indians have the traditional C on the front and a red and blue combination on the back. I like em. The Reds sported a black warmup and they looked beautiful. I had never seen those before.

The Reds Logan Ondrusek is 6-foot-8, 230 pounds and he pitches downhill. What a great weapon he is is for the pen.

I got my first look at Alex Guerrero. He’s smaller and lighter than I had thought. His power has to come from somewhere. He was late on some pitches but I think he’ll come around. I see him as a wrist hitter. Good swing. Henry Aaron was the best wrist hitter I’ve ever seen. So if Guerrero uses his wrists, I can see some pop.

Where does Jedd Gyorko get his power? He has huge legs. His lower body does much of the work in his swing. I can see him hitting for power. Very strong guy.

Worries for the Mariners. Iwakuma and Walker are going to be delayed. A couple of injuries that have to be monitored and not rushed. Suddenly, a rather nice pitching staff could take an early April hit.

I look for Mike Zunino to have a very solid year for the Mariners. Rushed to the big leagues a bit, Zunino has everything needed to succeed with the bat. His defense is still a work in progress.

Jesus Montero is the balloon we see once the party is over. It starts to deflate a bit. He had some promise. But the Yankees must have known what they were doing. I can’t describe how awkward and desperate his swing looked. It was like-“Let me try this.” It doesn’t look pretty.

It was good to see the Padres Rymer Liriano playing again. He blew out his arm and had surgery. He’s back now, and I think he can have an impactful bat.

I’d like to see Lonnie Chisenhall hit against every left-hander possible this spring. There is no way he will ever get better (and he does need to get better) watching them from the bench or just hitting against them in batting practice. If Chisenhall is going to be a player, he has to play. And he has to hit lefties.

John Axford may have been the beneficiary of the Cardinals pitching gurus. Believe me, he looked very smooth on the mound with his mid-90’s fastball working with sink for the Indians.

Thank you for following me on twitter @BerniePleskoff and for reading my work at MLBPipeline.com. It is much appreciated.

That’s it. I’m done.


  1. racingsausages

    Excellent observations and insights as usual Bernie. Thank you. I’ve heard you applaud the D-backs for bringing Dave Duncan into their organization in an advisory capacity, and Buster Olney has reported Kirk Gibson has been very impressed with Duncan’s philosophy. Seems to me a guy like McCarthy is exactly the type to benefit from the Duncan influence. Is Duncan focusing on certain pitchers? Any others whom you feel will benefit specifically? Thanks Bernie. @todd13

  2. bpleskoff

    Thank you @Todd13. I actually think the entire staff will benefit, but in particular Trevor Cahill. When he keeps the ball down, he’s tough to beat. When it’s up, he gets hit. That’s what Duncan teaches. How to keep the ball down-get sink on pitches.

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