Posted on: March 8, 2012 7:59 pm
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Small world, baseball. So it's not a shocker that Yonder Alonso knew a few Padres when he was traded from Cincinnati.
He was teammates with three current Padres at the University of Miami -- catcher Yasmani Grandal, outfielder Blake Tekotte and catcher Jason Hagerty -- on a Hurricanes team that was the No. 1 seed entering the 2008 College World Series.
But the best story is his acquaintance with center fielder Cameron Maybin.
"My first impression was, 'Geez, who is this guy?'" said Maybin, who first encountered Alonso when they were playing Florida travel ball as high schoolers.
Maybin was playing for the Midland Redskins, Alonso for the Florida Bombers.
When the two met, Maybin says, Alonso went 4 for 4 with three home runs.
"I still have the tape of that game," Maybin says.
Playing alongside Alonso for the Bombers: current Blue Jays catcher J.C. Arencibia, Reds pitcher Mat Latos (whom Alonso was traded for, ironically), Athletics second baseman Jemile Weeks, Twins third baseman Danny Valencia and Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay.
"They were sick," Maybin says.
The Twins drafted Alonso in the 16th round that year (2005), but he passed and went to the University of Miami instead.
"I needed it," Alonso said. "I wasn't ready for pro ball. I needed more baseball in me, and I needed to mature a little bit more."
Sunblock Day: Cool Thursday, but the wind stopped and that made all the difference. As predicted, the high was right at 60 degrees.
Likes: Chris Getz, vying for a job as Kansas City's second baseman. Good kid. He loved the fact that I was wearing a "Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band" hoodie in Royals' clubhouse (hey, it's been cold ... and he's from the Detroit area). ... Sour cream enchiladas and frozen strawberry margaritas at Los Olivos in Scottsdale. Perfect combo... Spotting a Culver's Frozen Custard in Arizona. ... Old Town Scottsdale. You can't go wrong. ... The Jacuzzi at my hotel pool, which provides some pretty solid therapy for this doggone oblique strain that has been nagging at me (yes, spring training can be tough for writers, too!).
Dislikes: Clocks changing Saturday. Ugh. I like the idea of it being light later and later. Love it. But man, I hate giving up that hour of sleep Saturday night.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"We're gonna need each other
"So I'll drive while you sleep
"And when I get too tired you can take the wheel from me"
-- Steve Azar, Hard Road
Posted on: June 17, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 4:24 pm
Though the Blue Jays' youth movement hit a bump when Kyle Drabek pitched himself back to the minor leagues this week, it's not all bus rides and Motel 6's for the kids. Blue Jays' rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia continues building the foundation for a promising major-league career.
But it's not just his offensive production that has impressed the Jays.
"From spring training to now, he's advanced by large steps," Toronto manager John Farrell says. "He's handling the pitching staff, his game-calling, his blocking balls in the dirt."
At 25, Arencibia, Toronto's first-round pick in the 2007 draft, has advanced to the point where he's caught more innings than expected. With veteran Jose Molina behind him, the Jays figured to break in Arencibia a little more slowly. But he's played in 52 of the Jays' 69 games, a workload that's been the combination of acumen and want-to.
"He loves to play," Farrell says. "I had to fight him early in spring training to come out of the lineup on certain days with the plan we had. He knew about the [schedule], but he wanted to play."
Not all has been smooth. Arencibia recently has been playing with a sore thumb, and that, too, will be a learning process. Professionally, he's never played in more than 116 games (2009, at Triple-A Las Vegas) in a season. The aches and pains and grind of a big-league schedule can take its toll, and the Jays may need to get Arencibia more days off later this summer.
But overall, the kid has looked like a keeper since he said hello last Aug. 7 by becoming the first player in the modern era to knock out four hits, including two homers, in his major-league debut.
"He's maturing as a player," Farrell says. "His conversations between innings with pitchers are right on the mark. They really are.
"He's handling both sides of it."