Revolution infielder Eric Patterson makes a throw with teammates behind him during the team’s practice at Sovereign Bank Stadium Monday, April 8, 2013. Bill Kalina photo email@example.com
Day One of the York Revolution spring training came and went in a hurry on Monday. Below is a collection of some news and notes of what happened at practice, conversations with some players and front office personnel and more, including improvements made to Sovereign Bank Stadium that fans of all ages will be able to enjoy, an introduction of the new Revs’ groundskeeper and much more. Make sure to stop back here every day for the next couple weeks if you’re looking for what happened at each day’s practice.
Column: If you haven’t already, feel free to check out my column featured in Monday’s paper. It focuses on Mark Mason and how much he’s looking forward to proving himself in his first year as manager. It also takes a look at what Mason and Revs baseball operations Andrew Ball have to this point to piece together a talented pre-season roster that includes several former big leaguers. Also included in the column is the average age of York’s pre-season roster and where that ranks compared to the rest of the league (I’ll have a more detailed look at this across the league once the season gets started and rosters are in place).
Pictures: Click here to view all the pictures from Monday’s practice taken by veteran York Dispatch photographer Bill Kalina, including a couple pics of new York players Tyler Graham, Wilson Batista and Eric Patterson.
Feature: Click here to read the feature out of Monday’s practice focuses on York’s outfield, in particular Tyler Graham. A Montana native, Graham debuted in the big leagues at the end of last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here’s are some interesting tidbits left out of that feature:
Revolution outfielder Tyler Graham throws to the infield after fielding a ball during the team’s practice at Sovereign Bank Stadium Monday, April 8, 2013. Bill Kalina photo firstname.lastname@example.org
- Graham, 29, grew up Montana: “It’s cold. We don’t have high school baseball in Montana. We have legion ball, it starts in April and ends in August. It’s fun. It’s just like any other place just not affiliated with the high school.”
- Graham’s high school coach is the nephew is college football coach Dennis Erickson, who helped get Graham into Oregon State University: “Dennis Erickson is a good family friend and his nephew was my high school coach in Montana. I had that connection. And then he talked to the (baseball) coaches that came out and watched in Montana for a day for a game and I signed soon after that. So without that connection it would have never happened.” …. ““I got a lot of (looks from) smaller (NCAA) D-I (schools) and D-IIs. Oregon State is by far the biggest offer I got. Even in that area, I never got offered by the D-I schools in that area. That’s why I feel so fortunate to end up where I did.”
- Thoughts of Graham making his big league debut with the Diamondbacks after previously making his way up through the minors in the San Francisco Giants’ farm system: “It was something else. Obviously I would have liked to get called up with the San Francisco Giants. It’s the team I came up with for six years. Getting to be very good friends with the people in that organizaton, the management the coaches the players. I had great relationships with the Giants. It would’ve been a lot more rewarding getting called up with them. But at the same time it wasn’t the experience that I guess I would’ve really hoped for getting called up. I was with a new team in triple-A with the Reno Aces. I didn’t know a lot of the guys and it wasn’t the same feeling it would’ve been with the Giants. But after all it was my dream and it came true. I was ecstatic. Even though it wasn’t with the Giants I was still very grateful for the opportunity.”
- Surgery: While the feature story focuses on Graham’s most recent surgery to his right throwing shoulder, it’s worth noting he had surgery to his left shoulder back in 2003 when he was at Oregon State.
- Graham’s thoughts on deciding to sign with York: “I just started getting calls on most of the teams in the (Atlantic) League. I listened to all of them and see what they had to offer. I had friends who played in this league before. They advised me on what places were good places to play and what weren’t. Everyone said York was a great place to play along with Lancaster and maybe a couple other teams around the league. I heard the spiel from most of the coaches around the league and what they had to offer. York sounded like a good situation and so I decided to come here.” “When I had talked to the coach (Mason) he said I was gonna play center field and lead-off and that’s all I needed to hear. I was good to go from there.”
Practice: Position players went through batting practice while a number of pitchers threw off the bullpen mounds. Starting pitcher Nick Green threw to live hitters. Missing from practice was starting pitcher Brett Tomko and relievers Juan Rincon and Pedro Liriano. Tomko and Rincon are expected to be in camp Tuesday. It’s unclear when Liriano will arrive as the team is dealing with visa issues with the Dominican Republic native.
Tryouts: The Revs didn’t sign anyone from last Friday’s open tryout. Not much more to further report on this, but thought it’s worth noting.
Revolution manager Mark Mason, left, and pitcher Corey Thurman talks during the team’s practice at Sovereign Bank Stadium Monday, April 8, 2013. Bill Kalina photo email@example.com
Mason chats on several topics:
- Of the 28 players on York’s pre-season roster, 11 of them are new to the Atlantic League. How concerned is Mason about those players’ first experience in a shortened spring training?: “That’s a concern every year. Anyone who doesn’t go through spring training you’re gonna be concerned about that. Some guys have played winter ball. Maybe they didn’t play winter ball and all February and March they’re throwing bullpens. The guys usually who have gone through spring training are more prepared.”
- Going into the off-season, Mason anticipated having his entire outfield returning but having to replace his entire infield: “Initially putting the roster together I really thought that we would have the same outfield back we had last year. I anticipated having a brand new infield. I knew (third baseman Chris) Nowak wouldn’t be back. (Short stop Joe) Thurston probably wouldn’t be back. (Second baseman Andres) Perez was gonna go to Mexico and I thought Limo’ (first baseman Johan Limonta) would go back to Mexico as well. And then when Scotty (center-fielder Scott Grimes) retired and Havee (left-fielder Brandon Haveman) retired I was like ‘OK. The only position player I have left (returning) is Fio’ (right-fielder Jeff Fiorentino) until I talked to Limonta and he said ‘No. I don’t want to go to Mexico. I want to come back and play in the league.”” — Mason ended having to find replacements for left field, center field, third base and short stop.
- Here’s York’s starting outfield: Left-fielder Jason Repko, center-fielder Tyler Graham, right-field Jeff Fiorentino. Mason said he Limonta, Brian Burgamy and Eric Patterson as possible back-ups in the outfield if needed. Plus, he said Andres Perez could play left field if needed.
- Sales pitch to Graham: “He had contacted some other clubs and when I talked to him on the phone I said ‘Look, this is what I’ll do. You come into camp you’ll be our everyday center-fielder and you’ll hit lead-off. That’s what I can promise you to start the season and after that it’s up to you to hold it.’ As soon as I said that I think we were like two minutes into the conversation and he’s like ‘I’m good, send the contract.’”
- A case like Graham’s is often a good example of what a player wants to hear, according to Mason: “Some guys I think if you tell them how you’re gonna use them and they like the role you’re gonna give ‘em that sways them a lot. And the players that have signed here and the success and the stuff that goes with it, the players like to hear that. (Third baseman) Andy Marte told me ‘You’re the only manager that has ever called me at my house in my pro ball career.’ I think players wanna talk to the manager because that’s the guy that makes the lineup. He’s gonna tell you how he wants to use you. A lot of players will tell you they got a lot of phone calls from around the league and it was ‘On behalf of the manager. I’m calling on behalf of the manager.’ Well, if you ask that guys questions he can’t answer like ‘How are you gonna use me?’ He might be able to offer you the money but the player really wants to know what are you gonna do?
- Mason’s background recruiting as a college coach helps in getting players to come to York: “I have about 23 seaosns in college ball. It’s all about recruiting. When you’re in a position where you’re recruiting and you tell them this is how I’m gonna use you, then that’s how I’m gonna use you. I told the guys this morning ‘I want you to showcase your ability every night. I demand 100 percent. When you’re out on the field, it’s show time go 100 percent and we’ll see what happens. It doesn’t take a lot of talent to give 100 percent effort. I told them I want to have fun while they’re here because a relaxed player is a better player. I’m not holding jobs over people’s heads. I’m not like that.”
Revolution outfielder Jeff Fiorentino throws to the infield after fielding a ball during the team’s practice at Sovereign Bank Stadium Monday, April 8, 2013. Bill Kalina photo firstname.lastname@example.org
Fiorentino packs on the pounds: In the course of working on the Graham feature, I chatted with returning outfielder Jeff Fiorentino, who arrived to camp Monday with some added pounds. There’s been some estimates that he looks 30 pounds heavier (by my estimation he’s added a good, healthy weight to a frame that was rail thin by the end of last season). Here’s what he had to say: “I don’t know what it was (amount of weight he added). I had lost a lot of weight when I was here last year.”….“I’ve lost 30 pounds in a season before.”…. “I trained hard. I still did all the things I needed to do, I just ate everything in sight. Taking protein and doing whatever I can.” … “I have the lengthy figure so even if I got fat it wouldn’t look fat on me.”.,.. “I stayed at my in-laws house, they’re out in the middle of nowhere (in north Florida, Mariana). They had a golf cart, I pulled the golf cart, I pushed the golf cart. I did that for a couple months. Same thing every year I went to a complex, it’s mainly an NFL combine place but during the off-season they do baseball also. 20 guys between the majors and minors. It’s in Fort Lauderdale (Florida). They train us there. They work you. We’ll do squats, ten sets of four. Two sets of box jumps. It’s all stuff that’s scripted out specifically for each person. I just got after it. Current major leaguers and current NFL guys. It’s mostly all local guys. Every now people like (Miguel) Tejada used to go down there and work out guys like Mike Morris, Mike Napoli, Raul Ibanez, Cliff Floyd used to.”
- Fiorentino said he’s staying with former teammate and current Baltimore Orioles’ outfielder Nick Markakis again this season.
- Fiorentino’s wife is expecting the couple’s first child, a boy, near the end of August.
Repko visits Gettysburg: OK. Not really baseball related. But it’s a blog and I have this info so why not throw it in here, right? A resident of Washington state, Repko got into town last Wednesday with his wife and their two children, ages five and two-and-a-half. What better place to take those youngsters than Gettysburg, right?: “My wife, I guess you could say is a history geek. I’m into that, too. I just watched that movie Lincoln. It was really cool for me. I’m not into it as much as my wife is. It was really cool. We did the little Film-O-Rama thing.” … “We did go on the little driving tower, we got out and went up the towers and sat on the canons. It ended up being pretty cool. It was fun.”
Update on former Revs catcher: Travis Scott is still a free agent but he’s expected to sign with an Atlantic League club later this week. Scott, 27, batted .226 in 79 games for York last season.
Stat of the day: This one comes from Revolution play-by-play broadcaster Darrell Henry: The most former major leaguers York has had on its roster in one season from start to finish is 17. The Revs’ current pre-season roster has 13 ex-major leaguers.
Ballpark improvements: Check out the previous blog post yet on new upgrades to Sovereign Bank Stadium, including the food selection at games? Click here to read that.
Groundskeeper: For the fourth straight year, the Revs have a new groundskeeper. Zach Holm, 23, is originally from San Diego, California but for some reason opted to attend college at Delaware Valley, where he was a pitcher. He ended up blowing out his arm in college and underwent Tommy John surgery to his right throwing elbow. He has a pretty sick scare as proof. He’s had tons of experience working on a grounds crew, including an internship with the Boston Red Sox, time with the Yankees’ Class AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre club and most recently the Yankees’ Class Low A Staten Island club.
Robinson, Etch’ coming back to York, jersey retirement(s)?: Former York Revolution manager Andy Etchebarren, now retired, will make his first visit back to York next week for the club’s Opening Day on April 18, when the team will retire his jersey.Also scheduled to be in appearance that night is Brooks Robinson, according to Menzer: “We are expecting Brooks (Robinson) to be here Opening Night. At least he’s scheduled to attend. Brooks’ number has always been retired there’s just never been the appropriate recognition inside the ballpark that it’s retired. And the same with Jackie Robinson’s number. So we’ll unveil all of that on Opening Night.”
Bullpen catchers: Former Penn State York men’s baseball player Nick Wallin will be back as the Revs’ bullpen catcher this season. Joining him will be PSY baseball assistant coach Chris Trout.
LF Jason Repko
Quote of the day: From me to Repko, which I regretted as soon as I said it since it’s one of those things where you don’t really think before you say it: “You look a lot smaller than I was expecting. Just from the highlights and everything I’ve seen of you, I guess you just look bigger on camera.” Why did I regret saying this? Well, now every time Repko passes me, he walks with his arms way out to the side and his chest puffed out. I’m sure he won’t let me down on this for the rest of the season. To be fair, let the record show Repko had told me back in March he went from 194 pounds and 10.5 percent body fat down to 182 pounds and seven percent body fat.
Virginia Beach: The Atlantic League announced Monday that Virginia Beach has been given conditional approval to join the Atlantic League. What exactly does conditional approval mean? Well, I chatted with Atlantic League CEO Frank Boulton on Monday (more to come later this week on this conversation) on several topics, including the above question. Here’s what he said: “Basically when you get a conditonal approval from the league, it’s subject to financing and securing funding and once they do that, they can become a member.” While we’re on this subject, he said the Loudoun (Va) Hounds have also been conditionally approved. Compared to Loudon, Virginia Beach sounds like a far-off reality. So I’m not really sure what to make of “conditionally approved” news since neither teams are official members and will only become members once everything is in place. For more information on the Virginia Beach plans, click here.