I may have to go back and buy this shirt. Photo credit: SisterLefty
The Lefty family (The Mr and I, BrotherLefty, SisterLefty, and MrSisterLefty) have escaped the California storms and are ensconced in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. Here’s a little travelogue, interspersed with some thoughts about the rather desultory Cactus League game we saw yesterday.
Back to Scottsdale
MrLefty and I were spring training regulars–didn’t miss a year between 2010 and 2020–until the pandemic and then the lockout broke our streak. We were looking forward to being back here for the first time in three years and have asked ourselves: “Does it feel like a long time since we’ve been here, or does everything seem familiar?” I think we settled on “familiar.” We’re at the same hotel that we’ve usually stayed at, a comfortable but not fancy Marriott on the edge of Old Town, which is an easy walk to Scottsdale Stadium. Last night we ate at one of our favorite spots, Citizen Public House, which has the best chopped salad I’ve ever had anywhere. We had been there during our March 2020 trip, just days before the world shut down, and as it turned out, Citizen Public House was the last restaurant we ate in for a long, long time. I had the chopped salad–in fact, we all did–and it did not disappoint.
Before heading over to Talking Stick for yesterday’s road game, the Mr and I walked over to Scottsdale Stadium to check out the merchandise at the Dugout Store–I might also have had a wish list from Crawnik. We were surprised and disappointed by the combo of poor selection and high prices. I have a collection of spring training T-shirts dating back to 2010. I even have ones from 2021 and 2022, when I couldn’t attend in person. So I wanted a Giants-themed shirt with the specific year on it. I found exactly one such shirt in the whole store. All they had left were smalls and mediums, which worked out OK for me but not for Crawnik. There were several hats with 2023 on them, but again a limited selection. And the prices–yikes. An adjustable 2023 cap was almost $38 dollars! My take on this situation is that the Giants know that fan interest is more limited than in previous years, and they don’t want to get stuck with merch dated with a specific year. “Giants” and “Spring Training” will work for any year. There were also very limited options for specific player jerseys (same bunch we saw in San Francisco a couple weeks ago). Anyway, such is the moment we are in.
If you ever make a Cactus League trip, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale is worth a visit (the Rockies and Diamondbacks share it). It’s a nice ballpark with comfortable seats and a decent amount of shade–definitely more than in Scottsdale Stadium. The weather here is great this weekend–not too hot or too chilly–but the sun can beat down on you after a couple of hours. BrotherLefty was pleased with the Chick-Fil-A pop-up as a lunch option.
There was an awkward moment during the National Anthem when the singer brain-farted on the lyrics and went dead silent for a few seconds. You can see the singer, and the Rockies’ loathsome mascot Dinger, in this photo.
Why was Dinger there, anyway? I’ve never seen Lou Seal at Scottsdale Stadium. Stay in Colorado, Dinger.
Then the game started, and that was pretty much the end of the fun. Alex Wood and Jakob Junis, who other than Tyler Rogers were about the only Giants pitchers I’d ever heard of, each gave up four runs and got hit hard. Wood in particular was terrorized by C.J. Cron, who had a double, a homer, and four RBIs against him. However, Wood was also victimized in the first inning by two very bad plays in the outfield by Joc Pederson, who for some reason was playing left field while Brandon Crawford DH’d. Cron’s double should have been the third out, and instead it drove in two runs. Wood didn’t look great, though–he walked a couple and wasn’t fooling anybody. As for the offense, the only interesting thing was that Luis Matos, who started in RF and finished in CF, had two hits, including this homer to left.
Luis Matos sends one out to left 👏 pic.twitter.com/WtcBLLRkHN
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) March 10, 2023
Beyond that, once the starters came out, and that was pretty early, it was a pretty deep dive into the Giants’ minor league system. I mean, Abdiel Layer? Damon Dues? Riley Mahan? Kade McClure? Juan Sanchez? Who are these people? I consider myself reasonably well informed about the organization, but there was one guy after another whom I’d never heard of. (I think I was aware of Layer, which was pronounced “liar” by the PA announcer, but that’s it.) At a spring training game, especially on the road, you don’t expect to see the regulars, but it might have been nice to see some more top-30 prospect types. Even guys whose names I recognized like Brett Auerbach and Logan Wyatt are no longer on that list.
Other Giants News
The first round of cuts happened yesterday, and speaking of top prospects who may be off the list soon, Heliot Ramos was optioned after going 3 for 16 in Cactus League games. Especially with Austin Slater still injured, you’d think they might have taken a longer look at Ramos in case he’s needed (right-handed hitter, can play CF), but I guess he didn’t impress anyone. Meanwhile, Mitch Haniger was scratched from yesterday’s game.
Mitch Haniger was scratched with oblique tightness and is expected to miss at least a couple of days, according to Gabe Kapler.
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) March 10, 2023
So with the Giants at least temporarily down three outfielders (Haniger, Slater, and Luis Gonzalez), Bryce Johnson and Steven Piscotty, both non-roster invitees, are still with the team and both in today’s starting lineup against the Dodgers. Again, that just emphasizes how badly Ramos’s stock seems to have fallen internally.
Here are some more injury updates. Good news about Luciano. Weird situation for Szapucki.
Giants updates from sick bay: Marco Luciano (back) cleared for full baseball activity, Austin Slater (elbow) hit yesterday and will soon begin throwing program, Vaun Brown diagnosed with left patellar tendinitis, Thomas Szapucki (left arm neuropathy) hasn't thrown for 10 days.
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) March 9, 2023
Finally, RIP to 60s-era Giant Jesus Alou, who memorably played in the outfield with his brothers Felipe and Matty on September 15, 1963, to this day the only three-brother outfield to play together in the majors. Jesus spent the first six of his 15 major league seasons with the Giants. The Alou brothers played together in eight games that season.
Dodgers at Giants, Scottsdale Stadium, 12:05 p.m. Mays Standard Time
Some Dodger I’ve never heard of vs. Alex Cobb
Radio: KNBR; TV: NBC Sports App (I’m not exactly sure what that means, but that’s what it says on the MLB app.)
Here’s the Giants’ lineup:
I’m so interested to see the Schmitt-Villar left side combo. That could pretty quickly be a thing in the post-Crawford era (which might start earlier than 2024 if Crawford, who’s hitting .091 in the Cactus League, picks up where he left off in 2022). Sabol started at catcher in yesterday’s road game and is DHing today. The Giants clearly want to take a nice, long look at him. And I mentioned Johnson and Piscotty in the outfield.
I’m looking forward to our first game in Scottsdale Stadium since March 8, 2020, even though there will be icky Dodger blue there, too. I hope to publish a bonus OOLF on Monday after we get home so that I can share thoughts about these two weekend games (tomorrow the A’s). Thanks for reading. Lefty out.