Just about everyone who should be in camp for spring training was there Tuesday in York for the second day of spring training. The only person missing was short stop Wilson Valdez, who manager Mark Mason said is expected to arrive in York by 4 p.m. Tuesday and participate in Wednesday’s exhibition against Southern Maryland.
Longtime Revolution starting pitcher Chris Cody, who missed Monday’s first day of spring training, arrived in York on Monday night and passed a physical Tuesday morning. Mason said he’s not sure of the possible deal to pitch in Taiwan that Cody was mulling over, but did say Cody is slated to pitch in York’s exhibition against Southern Maryland on Sunday
Asked if he has an idea on who will be his setup guy and closer out of the bullpen, Mason said “I think it’s early but I would say (Mike) Wuertz and (Rommie) Lewis in the 8th and 9th (innings). That’s my mindset going in. We’ll see how everything fits in before that.”
Mason said it’s too early to figure out the batting order or who will play where defensively. He said Wilson Valdez will start at short stop, Ofilio Castro could play at second base or third base, Travis Garcia could start at third base or begin the year at designated hitter and Eric Patterson could see time at second base, too. Plus, there’s infielder Chad Tracy, who could play third or first base. He said the outfielders will be a combination of Tim Torres, Sean Smith, Johan Limonta and Steve Bumbry.
“The infielders you got Chavez, Garcia, Castro, Valdez and Eric Patterson and Chad Tracy. And even Torres could play short stop. He came up as a short stop,” Mason said. “We took infield yesterday (Monday) and he played short stop. Everybody looked good yesterday.”
On a personal note, I wasn’t able to get to the stadium until later in the day due to other obligations. As a result, I didn’t get an opportunity to chat with Cody, but I plan to later this week. I also won’t be at Wednesday’s exhibition because I have to instead cover the Capital Athletic Conference tournament opener over at York College. The Spartans are ranked No. 24 in the country and are the top seed in the tournament. York College last won the conference tourney in 1999. Still, I plan on posting a Q&A here Wednesday from a conversation I had with reliever Stephen Penney on Monday, so feel free to check back on that.
Anyway, click here to check out the feature story from Tuesday that will be printed in Wednesday morning’s York Dispatch newspaper. The subject is on the York players with the best shots at getting picked up by big league clubs this season, with the main focus being on 25-year-old right-handed reliever Ian Durham. Click here to check out the photo album from Tuesday’s practice, which includes pitchers Durham, Alain Quijano, Mark Hendrickson and catcher Salvador Paniagua. There’s also pictures of pitchers Corey Thurman, Anthony Lerew and Wes Roemer tossing and catching a football, including a cool pic of Roemer flashing off his San Francisco 49ers gloves.
Upon chatting with Durham on Tuesday, he revealed quite a few interesting details about his life that make for a somewhat inspirational back story considering what he’s had to deal with growing up. As a result, I’m planning on doing an extensive feature on Durham in the near future. In the meantime, below are some other interesting tidbits from the conversation I had with Durham on Tuesday:
On playing football and baseball through his freshman year of college: “I played in college as a wide receiver. I was pretty good. After my freshman year both of my coaches sat me down and said ‘You got baseball, where you’re throwing pretty hard. You’re only 19. If you workout and get stronger there’s a possibility you’re getting drafted for playing baseball.’ With football at that time I was 195 pounds dripping wet and ran a 4.7 40 (ran a 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds) which is not the fastest but not that slow, either. They just said ‘We think you have a better future if you play baseball.’ Like I said, God always has a plan, maybe if I would’ve kept playing football maybe I would’ve blown out a knee or a shoulder.”
On being a football fan: “I follow football pretty heavily, I have a couple fantasy draft teams. Even today we were out throwing the pigskin around. Baseball is much more intricate. You watch the game of baseball. People say it’s boring, like ‘Nothing happens for an hour and a half.’ I’m like ‘Yeah but that pitcher just threw a no-hitter.’ In football it’s just like who’s stronger and faster.’”
His favorite NFL team, meeting Cowboys players: “I’ve been a Chargers fan for awhile. I’ve been a longtime Chargers fan just from growing up in Southern Cal. The Dallas Cowboys came and hosted pre-season workouts in Oxnard, California, which is the next city south of me. My father actually worked for a company that got VIP passes to these pre-season practices. Me and my brother would go there everyday and get autographs from guys like (Cowboys’ quarterback) Tony Romo. We got gloves from (Cowboys’ tight end) Jason Witten. I think this year was the first year they didn’t do it (hold pre-season workouts in Oxnard). I think they were there six years in a row. So I’m a Dallas fan partially.”
Have you always been a pitcher?: “No. I pitched here in there but mostly I was an outfielder in high school. In college I tried out for both. In the second or third of our tryouts (in college) I threw a bullpen. After that they said ‘You’re gonna be a pitcher.’”
It’s only been three years since you were drafted by the Phillies. Does it seem like yesterday to you or does it feel like awhile ago?: “It seems like awhile ago, to be honest with you. Each year I’ve learned so much. My abilities have not changed the last two years from the Phillies to Florence to Gary. My approach to the game and the way I visualize hitters and see hitters has changed tremendously. When I talk to high school kids I tell them ‘You’re playing tic-tac-toe with the hitter. Regardless of what move they make. Then in college, tic-tac-toe becames checkers, then after college, checkers becomes chess.’ The last two years I finally found out a strategy to play the game of chess against hitters.”
You work with high school kids?: “I’ve the pitching coach or coordinator for Buena High School in Ventura (California). I’ve been coaching there. I had to leave a little earlier than I did last year.” “Last year was my first year.”
Would you like to coach one day?: “Oh yeah, definitely. To be around baseball all the time. I can’t think of having a job not related to baseball. I hope I can take classes to get into scouting or be able to be a pitching coach in high school and move up from there. Mark Magdaleno is the (head) coach there at Buena. He’s a former minor league coach. He swears I’m the best pitching coach he’s ever had before. He said ‘If I ever leave you can take my job or if I get a coaching job somewhere else you can come with me.”
You’re now at an independent club full of former major leaguers and guys with triple-A experience. And it sounds like you’re optimistic about learning from those veteran players?: “For sure. It’s definitely going to help me out here. I can tell there’s a lot of good guys in this group. Once we start getting loosened up I’m excited to sit there and just pick guys brains. I already talked to Mark Hendrickson. To be able to talk to somebody who’s played at highest level of two sports, he’s a freak of nature.” (Hendrickson first played in the NBA before moving to baseball full-time and reaching the majors). “It’s impossible to do. I looked him up on google images. I don’t remember him playing for the 76ers. I saw Michael Jordan dunking on him. But then you think ‘Yeah, but Jordan tried to go play baseball and never made it (to the majors). Hendrickson made it to the big leagues and had successful career. It’s just insane.”
What’s in your pitching repertoire?: “Fastball, changeup, cutter, curveball.”
On surfing: “Since I was seven or eight years old. One of my best friends’ dad is a big local in Ventura. He just waited for us to swim across a pool underwater the whole time. He said ‘I’ll take you surfing if you can swim across the pool under the water.’ So one day we did. He got us in a car and took us down to the beach. He taught us how to surf on a long board. Now I’m pretty exclusive on short boarding. It’s great for pitchers, it’s one of the best workouts for shoulders.”
Being 6-foot-4 did you ever try basketball?: “There’s a couple times where I really wanted to compete in high school. I just really didn’t want to get into that scene.”Read More