Day Five: Revs spring training news, notes

James Shanks connects with a two-run homer for the York Revolution as they face Sugar Land in a pre-season exhibition game on Wednesday. John A. Pavoncello photo.

The second day of a scrimmage between the York Revolution and the Sugar Land Skeeters at Sovereign Bank Stadium, and a second win for the Revs.

This time, it didn’t take York until 7th inning to come alive. The Revs put their first run on the board in the second inning on a Travis Scott RBI single that scored Andres Perez. After a lead-off double by Michael Hernandez in the fourth inning, James Shanks later knocked a two-run homer out of the park to make it 3-0. Scott then singled and Salvador Paniagua followed with an RBI double to make it 4-0. Once again, Chris Nowak started off cold (going 0-for-3) and then homered in his fourth at-bat, with a two-run shot to centerfield that also scored Hernandez. York won by a final score of 6-1, with the Skeeters getting their lone run in the fifth inning on a sac-fly by Ben Harrison that scored Jimmy Van Ostrand. The game was cut short after eight innings due to rain.

Revs’ starter Chris Cody pitched three perfect innings, striking out one. Right-hander Shaun Garceau tossed a scoreless fourth inning, allowing a hit and striking out one. Lefty Ian Thomas gave up a run on one hit in one inning of work. Thomas also struck out a batter and hit a batter with a pitch. 6-foot-7 right-hander Stephen Penney, who arrived in York late Tuesday night, tossed a scoreless sixth inning, giving up a hit. Lefty James Houser was dominant in a 1-2-3- seventh inning, striking out two (including former Revs’ slugger Jason Botts). Santo Luis gave up a couple hits in the eighth inning but got out of trouble with an inning-ending double-play. As a whole, Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason said York pitchers combined to throw 84 pitches in eight innings (10.5 average).

Revs’ manger Andy Etchebarren said afterwards he wasn’t impressed with Luis, but Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason said Luis just has a couple things to work on.

“Based on the (radar) gun he’s probably throwing as hard or harder than anyone we had. I think it was straight and it was up in the zone. The control was there but the ball was up a little bit. He got squared up every time. I just think he has to work on getting the ball down.”

Mason said Garceau, who will likely be used a long-inning reliever to start the year, only got one inning on Wednesday because of the rain shortened the game.

Fan Fest: The rosters for the local all-star baseball team that will take on the Revs at Saturday’s Fan Fest have been released. Click here for all the details.

Houser: Feature story from Wednesday is on Houser, who comes to York after sitting out the 2011 season to recover from open heart surgery to repair an enlarged aorta. The story will be featured in Thursday’s York Dispatch newspaper (check it out online here). The 27-year-old reached the majors at the end of the 2010 season with the Florida Marlins and earned a spring training invite the following year with the Baltimore Orioles, where he found he needed surgery.

Thursday’s plans: The Revs will have a breakfast with season ticket holders on Thursday morning. Later, York is set to square off with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at Sovereign Bank Stadium on Thursday in the team’s first official exhibition that will be open to the public. Game time is set for 1 p.m. However, Etchebarren said Wednesday night he’s unsure if the game will be played due to the weather. That may sound strange considering Thursday’s forecast (according to weather.com) is for 73 degrees and sunny. However, the field might not be in good playing condition depending on how much it rains overnight. If the game does happen, Mason said left-hander Jesus Sanchez will get the start for York. It looks like Michael Schlact will get the nod for the Blue Crabs.

Skeeter signed by Rays: Right-hander Lance Pendleton became the second Sugar Land Skeeters’ player to be picked up out of spring training. The Tampa Bay Rays signed Pendleton on Wednesday and assigned him to Class AAA Durham. Pendleton reached the majors at the end of last season, tossing four innings in relief for the Houston Astros and 11 innings for the New York Yankees. He had earned a spring training invite with the Astros this year but was realeased on March 30. For more on the signing, click here.

Sugar Land sold out: According to Skeeters’ play-by-play man Lane Zieben, the first official game at Constellation Field in Sugar Land will take place this Saturday when a pair of high school teams meet up for a regular season game. Zieben said the game is already sold out.

Quotebook: For the second day in a row, Etchebarren picked on catcher Octavio Martinez, who caught for York last year and is now with Sugar Land. When Martinez walked out for batting practice on Wednesday, Etch’ had this to say to him:

“When you come up today, we’re going to bring all the outfielders into the infield. If you get it past them, it’s a hit.”

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Q&A with Sugar Land skipper Gary Gaetti

Gary Gaetti

With the Sugar Land Skeeters in town this week, I was able to catch up with the franchise’s inaugural skipper Gary Gaetti.

For his full baseball background, click here. In short, Gaetti was a heck of a major league player and one of the best defensive players during his time in the game in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1987, he was named the American League Championship Series MVP and for his career he ranks sixth all-time among third basemen with 360 career home runs, and he is one of 38 players all-time to record 2,200 hits (2,280) and 360 homers.

Below is Q & A with theSugarLandskipper:

When did you first here about the job opening in SugarLand?

“Well, I was living in Houston. I was working with Astros and Tampa Bay the previous couple of years. This job opened up. Deacon Jones (SugarLand’s special assistant to the team president) came up there and started talking about a minor league team in SugarLand. I got to talk to him, and he said ‘Would you mind if we put your name in the hat for a coaching or managing job?’ I said ‘Sure, go ahead.’ I just kind of stayed involved with all the functions. I just stayed involved with it because I knew it was gong to be really cool. So, I was just there to do whatever I could to help. I didn’t really realize I’d end up in this position, but it turned out good. I just knew how special it could be. Seeing Lancaster and other places where my son (Joe Gaetti, played for Lancaster Barnstormers in 2010) had played I just knew it was going to be a good thing because I like baseball and I was going to do my piece whenever they needed me to do to help. It just kind of turned out this way.”

Did your son, Joe, have any input with his thoughts on the Atlantic League when you were considering the job?

“No. I just had come and watched him play when he was inLancaster. He played in the league and I saw him play in the (independent) Northern League when he was with Joliet. I just liked it. I liked what it meant. I saw him having fun. It was a lot different than what people perceived it to be. It’s pretty good. I just wanted to do whatever I could, whether it was coach or hitting or whatever.”

How has your minor league coaching background help put together this year’s team?

“It’s not so much my background in minor league coaching. It’s just, when you do coach in the minor leagues you have to wear a few different hats, whether you’re the hitting coach or pitching coach, you’re still scouting. There are opportunities where you may have to manage. You do some of the travel and secretary stuff, you baby-sit a little bit. You do a lot of different things. I’m glad I had that experience.”

What’s your relationship like with York Revolution manager Andy Etchebarren?

“I’ve gotten to know him through (Lancaster Barnstormers manager) Butch (Hobson) last year. I came over here and went in the clubhouse and talked to Andy. I used to watch him when I was growing up. He was one of those names that always stuck out in your mind. He was on some of the better teams back then. It was neat to meet him. He’s a character.”

The Skeeters have signed nearly a dozen players with connections to the Houston area. How important was it to bring in guys with ties to the area?

“They’re all pretty good players. That’s an added bonus when don’t have to worry about (finding) housing for guys. It’s nice for the local stories to show them who we are. They’re interested in home-grown talent. That works both ways. (The players) are happy to be here and we’re happy to have them. It works out good. It’s a smooth transition.”

What’s relationship like with theSugar Land franchise being somewhat in the backyard of the Houston Astros?

“Well, it’s good for us. We want them to do well. We certainly hope that they come out and look at some of our players if they have a need. We’re going to support them in their efforts. I think it could be a nice relationship. The Houston area is certainly big enough to handle two (pro) teams, possibly three. It’s such a big baseball town. I’m not expecting any problems in terms of competition. They’re gonna see and like what we’re doing down there and we’re gonna support them.”

What have you liked about this job so far?

“I guess being excited about being back on the field and developing relationships and the camaraderie. Seeing the whole thing come from the ground up, getting to build your own team and seeing the ins and outs of the baseball operation. It’s a lot stuff. It’s a little nerve-racking. It’s still fun. You always think you want to be the manager and do that kind of stuff. When you see stuff happen like yesterday (referring toYork’s seven-run eighth inning), you’re like ‘Man this is happening really fast.’”

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Day Four: Revs spring training news, notes

The York Revolution hosted the Sugar Land Skeeters on Tuesday, April 17, 2012. Bil Bowden photo.

Before we get to Tuesday’s practice, just wanted to point out a couple things Revs’ related:

–Feature story from Tuesday’s practice is on right-handed reliever Adam Thomas, which will be featured in Wednesday’s York Dispatch newspaper (check out the online story and video here). Thomas last pitched for York in 2007 when he was picked up by the Oakland A’s. He retired from baseball following the 2007 season but returned last year and put up lights-out numbers.

–Check out the first “REVS WRAP UP” here. The show will be featured on White Rose Community Television. Myself, YDR reporter Jim Seip, play-by-play man Darrel Henry and Revs’ media guru Paul Braverman give our pre-season thoughts.

Tuesday’s practice: Featured the first scrimmage for both York and the Sugar Land Skeeters. The game was somewhat of a lull until the later innings. The Skeeters led 3-0 until York, wearing their new blue and yellow jerseys, put a run on the board in the bottom of the seventh inning on a Salvador Paniagua that scored James Shanks from third. York broke the game open the next inning, with Travis Scott driving in Andres Perez to start things off. With runners on the corners, James Shanks scored on a past ball and after a few bad throws all around the infield, Joe Spiers came around from first to score to make it 5-3. Stephen Douglas then followed that with a solo homer to right field to make it 6-3. After Michael Hernandez reached on a single, Chris Nowak broke an 0-for-4 slump by knocking a two-run homer to center field to make it 8-3, which would end up being the final score.

Skeeters’ starter Matt Wright shut down the Revs in four innings of work, allowing just two hits and striking out six. He struck out the side in the second inning.

Revs’ starter Ryan Feierabend  allowed a run on three hits in four innings, striking out one and walking one. York’s LHP Yunior Novoa gave up a hit but struck out one in one inning. RHP Omar Javier allowed two runs (including a homer) on two hits while striking out two and walking one in one inning of work.Lhp Kris Regas, RHP Adam Thomas and RHP R.J. Rodriguez each pitched an inning and struck out one.

“I thought (Feierabend) threw the ball well except he kind of decelerated on his breaking ball a little bit,” Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason said. “So, we talked about that. Novoa just tried to overthrow a little bit. Just trying to rush to the plate and throw the ball extra hard. Other than that, I thought Regas, Thomas and R.J. threw the ball really well. Overall I thought we threw the ball well. The bullpen was good.”

As far as who played where…Shanks, Grimes and Hernandez were the LF, CF and RF. Nowak played third and Scott played first, Spiers at short stop and Perez at second. Paniagua caught. Some of the positions (like Nowak at third and Scott at first) happened mainly because some infielders have yet to arrive in York (more on that later).

Starting nine: Following the scrimmage, Revs’ manager Andy Etchebarren named his starting nine to begin the season: CF Scott Grimes, OF Stephen Douglas, 3B Ramon Castro, 1B Chris Nowak, OF Michael Hernandez, 2B Andres Perez, OF James Shanks, SS Danny Gonzalez, C Paniagua/Scott (Yes, there are four outfielders in there, so it just depends on who will DH).

“Pretty good, ain’t it?” Etchebarren said. “You got Shanks hitting seven. Gonzalez can hit, too. And the catchers will be able to drive in some runs, they’re going to have some guys in front of them.”

Set-up man: Etch’ also named right-hander Adam Thomas the team’s set-up man for closer R.J. Rodriguez.

“And we have a lot of choices of who can pitch the sixth and seventh,” he said.

Arrivals: RHP Adam Thomas showed up Monday and pitched in the scrimmage Tuesday. Right-hander Stephen Penney is expected to be in York by Tuesday night. Etch’ said he expects Castro and Liu to be in York no later than Saturday. Gonzalez could be here by the end of the week as well. It’s still unclear when Dumas Garcia might arrive. In a related note, the team has removed RHP Ricardo Gomez, who is pitching in the playoffs in Panama, to open up a roster spot. However, Gomez will join York when he’s finished in Panama.

Plans for Wednesday’s practice: The Revs will take BP in the afternoon before they meet up with the Skeeters under the lights for a scrimmage (closed to the public). LHP Chris Cody will get the start for York. Mason said RHP Shaun Garceau, RHP James Houser, LHP Ian Thomas, RHP Santo Luis will also see action. Penney might also pitch.

Geary/Richardson: Mason said RHP Geoff Geary, a former Philadelphia Phillie who pitched for York in 2011, has retired. RHP Jason Richardson underwent Tommy John surgery to his throwing elbow in October and will rehab this season in York.

Quotebook: I would have told you what some of the Skeeters’ players did on Tuesday, except every player wore number 12. Etch’ asked Sugar Land first-base coach Vic Gutierrez (former York Revolution player in 2007) about it, to which Gutierrez responded:

“It’s our first year as a franchise in 2012.”

Also, Octavio Martinez made his return to York. Martinez, who was York’s catcher for most of the 2011 season, is now catching for Sugar Land. During the scrimmage, Martinez dropped his facemask to catch a pop fly. After the play, Martinez showed off his blue mouth guard by smiling at Etch’, who responded:

“O, you got something in your teeth.”

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Day Three: Revs’ spring training news, notes

Manager Andy Etchebarren, left, and pitching coach Mark Mason watching batting and pitching practice.The York Revolution worked out again Monday, April 16, 2012. Bil Bowden photo.

Just three days into spring training camp, the York Revolution is nearly set with its starting rotation and bullpen. Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason said Monday that the team will start the year with Corey Thurman as its opening day starter, followed by left-handers Ryan Feierabend and Chris Cody. He said the No. 4 and No. 5 spots will come down to LHP Jesus Sanchez, RHP Omar Javier, RHP Shaun Garceau and LHP Yunior Novoa. Mason also said Thurman will get the start at Fan Fest on Saturday.

As for the bullpen, Revs’ manager Andy Etchebarren said Sunday the closing job is R.J. Rodriguez’s to start the year “and it’s his to lose.” As far as who will be the set-up man to Rodriguez, Mason said Monday that it will likely be either RHP Santo Luis or RHP Adam Thomas. However, Mason didn’t rule out putting using a left-hander depending on who’s at the plate in the eighth innings (who knows who that could be considering the several lefties the bullpen includes at this point?).

Ryan Feierabend shows one of his tattoos, this one he had done when he was 14. The York Revolution worked out again Monday, April 16, 2012. Bil Bowden photo.

Feierabend: The York Dispatch will feature a story on LHP Ryan Feierabend in Tuesday’s sports section (you can check out the story and video online here). Etch’ is pretty high on the lefty and thinks he could be picked up quickly if he starts out hot. Feierabend pitched in the majors with the Mariners from 2003 to 2008. He missed 2009 following Tommy John surgery. Last year he pitched at Class AAA Lehigh Valley (Phillies). This year, he earned a minor league spring training invite with the Phils but was cut in March. Left-hander Tom Cochran (former Barnstormer), who was also in camp with the Phils, then put in a call to Mason. Cochran, who is now pitching at Lehigh Valley, had played for Mason in 2006 and 2007 with the Washington Wild Things (Frontier League). Back in 2010, Cochran had also put in a good word for Scott Grimes (the two were teammates in 2008 playing for Worcester in the Can-Am League).

Monday’s practice: The start of Monday’s practice was delayed a bit because the team had visited the Harley-Davidson factory earlier in the day (more on that later). Batting practice included INF Joe Spiers, OF Scott Grimes, C Alex Lentz, C Salvador Paniagua, 1B/3B Chris Nowak, OF Stephen Douglas, OF Michael Hernandez, C Travis Scott, OF James Shanks and 2B Andres Perez. During batting practice, Nowak homered twice over the left-field wall. Lentz homered once to left-center.

RHP Corey Thurman, RHP Shaun Garceau, LHP James Houser, LHP Ian Thomas and RHP Santa Luis threw to live batters. All the pitchers had short sessions except Thurman, who basically threw a simulated start.

“I thought he was OK,” Revs pitching coach Mark Mason of Thurman. “We were working on more breaking balls than he would normally throw. Today was just working on your third or fourth pitch more. We’re going to stay away from your bread and butter today. We wanted to try to work on breaking balls for him. That’s probably his weakest pitch in 2010 and last year it got better. So we know he’ll have a fastball, a cut fastball and his changeup.”

Arrivals: OF Stephen Douglas was at practice on Monday. RHP Adam Thomas showed up in the Revs’ clubhouse following practice (to which Etchebarren’s face lit up). Mason said Thomas might pitch as soon as Tuesday. If not Tuesday, then Thomas will likely pitch on Wednesday. Mason also said player-coach Liu Rodriguez is expected to arrive to camp by April 20. He’s still unsure when Castro could come. The VISAs for both Rodriguez and Castro have been approved, but a paperwork problem with Venezuela, where both players live, has delayed their arrivals. INF Danny Gonzalez, RHP Stephen Penney and RHP Dumas Garcia have yet to arrive in camp.

Tidbits: The new “2011″ championship sign is up at The Vault. Not sure yet on when it will be officially unveiled…Nowak fielded at third base briefly during practice…the Sugar Land (Tex) Skeeters landed Monday at BWI airport. The Skeeters will be practicing in York the next few days.

Tuesday’s practice: York will practice in the morning on Tuesday, the Sugar Land Skeeters (who are in town the next few days) will then have a practice before the team’s scrimmage (scrimmage is closed to the public). Mason said Feierabend will get the start, followed by RHP Omar Javier, LHP Yunior Novoa, RHP Kris Regas and RHP R.J. Rodriguez. RHP Adam Thomas might also pitch. Feierabend is slated to throw around 55 to 70 pitches.

Quoteables:

During the Harley-Davidson tour on Monday, Revs’ manager Andy Etchebarren learned that a new motorcycle is produced every 89 seconds. Does Etch’ like motorcycles? Well, he said he received a new motorcycle in his rookie year with the Orioles after they won the 1966 World Series.

“I sold it the next day,” he said.

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Day Two: York Revolution Spring Training News & Notes

Left-hander Jesus Sanchez (above) delivers a pitch at a relaxed York Revolution practice on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at Sovereign Bank Stadium. John A. Pavoncello photo.

The York Revolution opened up spring training practice on Saturday, April 14 at Sovereign Bank Stadium. Throughout the week I’ll try to post updates from each day of spring training, leading up to Opening Day when York travels to Sugar Land to begin the season on April 26. Here’s some news and notes from Day Two:

Late arrivals: Infielders Ramon Castro, Liu Rodriguez and Danny Gonzalez and pitchers Adam Thomas, Stephen Penney, Dumas Garcia and Ricardo Gomez have yet to arrive in camp. Regarding Venezuelan natives Castro and Rodriguez, the team is dealing with paperwork issues with the Venezuela government to bring the two players to the United States. Gonzalez is in his native Puerto Rico to help with a family matter, but he should join the team soon. Thomas, Penney and Garcia will likely be in camp in the next couple days. Gomez is currently pitching for a playoff team in Panama and should join York when that season wraps up.

Thomas returns: Revs’ baseball operations manager Andrew Ball confirmed Sunday the team has signed Thomas, a 6-foot-4 right-handed reliever who pitched for York in 2007. That year, he posted a 1.50 ERA with five saves in 11 games with the Revs before being picked up by the Oakland Athletics and assigned to High Class A Stockton. Last season, Thomas posted a 1.73 ERA and collected 17 saves in 56 games for the Atlantic League’s all-travel Road Warriors. He struck out 49 batters in 57.1 innings of work. Ball said Thomas, 32, had earned a spring training invite with the San Francisco Giants but was later cut and then played a stint in the Mexican League.

Pitching overload: York currently has 29 players under contract – 17 pitchers and and 12 position players. Revs’ manager Andy Etchebarren said Sunday the team will likely break camp with 14 pitchers. It’s unclear how many position players will make the squad. Atlantic League teams can open the season with 27 players but rosters have to be paired down to 25 players by the end of May. Etchebarren said that by the end of spring training camp he might send one of his pitchers to the Somerset Patriots to complete an earlier trade when York acquired outfielder Michael Hernandez for a player to be named later.

“But you never know, Somerset might not like the pitcher I have for them,” he said.

Sunday’s practice: At Sunday’s practice, pitchers Ryan Feierabend, Jesus Sanchez, Omar Javier, Kris Regas and R.J. Rodriguez threw off the game-mound with batters standing in the batters box but not taking any swings. Position players who did take cuts in batting practice off of Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason included outfielders Hernandez, James Shanks and Scott Grimes, catchers Salvadora Paniagua, Travis Scott and Alex Lentz, and infielders Joe Spiers and Andres Perez.

Big hitters: During batting practice, Nowak homered three times over the left-field wall and Paniagua homered to left-center. Lentz, who earned a spring training invite at the Revs’ open tryout a week ago, looked pretty good taking BP, hitting quite a few balls to deep left-center field.

Shed the pounds: Paniagua is a bit thinner this spring. He said he lost about ten pounds over the off-season mostly by running. He said he now weighs around 223 pounds.

Left-hander heavey starting rotation: Revs’ pitching coach Mark Mason said York’s starting rotation to start the year will likely be (in no particular order) RHP Corey Thurman, LHP Chris Cody, RHP Omar Javier, LHP Ryan Feierabend and LHP Jesus Sanchez. He also said the team may took a look at RHP Shaun Garceau, LHP James Houser and LHP Yunior Novoa as possible starters.

Outfield: York has four outfielders under contract – Shanks, Grimes, Hernandez and Stephen Douglas. Etchebarren said he will start three of them and use the fourth in the designated hitter spot.

Catching platoon: Paniagua and Scott will be used as a platoon at the catcher spot to start the season, Etchebarren said. Paniagua, a right-handed batter, will face left-handed pitching. Scott, a left-handed batter, will face right-handed pitching. Should both hit well this season, Etchebarren said each could see 250 to 300 at-bats this year. But one guy could win the everyday starting gig if one plays better than the other, Etchebarren said.

Got the green light: Etchebarren said Danny Gonzalez, Chris Nowak, Andres Perez, Stephen Douglas, Scott Grimes and Michael Hernandez will all have “the green light” to steal second this season when they reach base, but “not (Ramon) Castro.”

Retired: Etchebarren said 39-year-old outfielder/designated hitter Jose Herrera, who played for York each of the last two seasons, has retired. A former big leaguer with the Oakland Athletics  in 1995 and 1996, Herrera spent the last six of his 12 pro seasons playing entirely in the Atlantic League. For York last season, he hit .283 with nine homers and 59 RBIs in 86 games. In York’s 9-6 win in Game 3 of the Atlantic League Championship Series last year, Herrera broke an 0-for-18 postseason slump by going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

Quotebook:

Etchebarren and Mason on Javier while he was pitching in practice – Etchebarren: “When he struck out a guy last year he didn’t make nothing of it.” Mason: “Yeah, he just said ‘Gimme the ball, let’s go.’” Etchebarren: “He pitched as good against us as any pitcher in the league last year.”

Observation: When they were pitching off the mound on Sunday, Mason noted Javier has a really good fastball Feierabend throws a nasty breaking ball.

Monday’s practice: Mason said the Revs will likely have an intra-squad scrimmage at Monday’s practice.

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