Results tagged ‘ Manny Sanguillen ’

Day 8: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Catchers.jpgI wasn’t going to miss pop-up drills to the catchers today. No way. Even after being warned by one of the catchers (who will remain unnamed) not to report my observations here on the blog. That comment, of course, is all about context. For those who were here last year on the first day of pop-up drills, you probably remember the disaster.

To be fair, 25-30 mph winds were partially to blame last year. But so many balls were dropped that Manny Sanguillen was left shaking his head and fans behind the fence were left applauding when a ball was actually caught.

Well, I’m pleased to report that today’s exhibition on how to catch pop-ups was extremely impressive all around. There was wind factoring in today, too, so that made the drill’s success even more notable. The catchers (seven in all) hardly dropped a ball, including when Minor League manager Tom Prince shot up two or three in succession.

As for the rest of your daily squeeze…

  • Pedro Alvarez was out of workouts today with a muscle spasm in his neck. He woke up feeling sore and had treatment while the team was on the field. The Pirates list Alvarez’s status as day to day.
  • With Alvarez inside, Garrett Atkins stepped in at third base during defensive work with the rest of the starting infielders. That gives you some idea of the initial depth chart.
  • Lefty Scott Olsen (mild left hamstring strain) was out throwing long toss for a while on Monday. When asked how Olsen was progressing, GM Neal Huntington said only that the team would update his status later in the week. The club has been quiet on how Olsen’s setback will affect his ability to get ready for the season.
  • Olsen’s status obviously affects that of Charlie Morton, who is also competing for the fifth spot in the rotation. Manager Clint Hurdle spoke briefly about Morton today: “I don’t think there is any doubt he has learned some things. He’s another guy who has taken ownership of poor performance. He knows what he’s capable of. What I’m encouraged by in what I’ve seen from Charlie is he’s honestly self-evaluating. He has visited the places where he could maybe have done better in some situations. From here on in, it’s taking the actions.”
  • One of the first defensive drills of the day was working on cutoffs and relay throws. Time was also spent having pitchers field grounders and cover first on groundballs gloved by the first baseman or second baseman. Communication was key in these drills.
  • Pitchers also spent time fielding comebackers and practicing their bunting. Hitters took batting practice, though it was thrown by coaches today.
  • Effort continues to be an emphasis in each and every drill. Said Hurdle: “That’s one of the elements we’re really trying to challenge the players with this spring — if you want to play in the game, you’ve got to work at practice. Sometimes, it’s done the other way. I’ve been guilty of it. What we’ve tried to do is make practice more challenging.”
  • Live batting practice will resume on Tuesday and Wednesday. Pitchers will throw two innings (one inning is 18 pitches) and will throw half of those pitches out of the wind-up and half out of the stretch. There will also be an emphasis on slide step moves.
  • Owner Bob Nutting addressed players in a morning meeting and spoke to reporters afterward. For a full transcript on what Nutting had to say, go here.
  • The National College Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2011 class, of which former Pirates shortstop Dick Groat is a member. Groat played two seasons at Duke University, where he was also a standout on the basketball team. The induction ceremony will be July 3 in Lubbock, Texas.
  • There are always plenty of meetings and procedures early in camp, and today was no different. Players and staff attended the MLB Umpires Meeting after workouts. In the morning, everyone went in for blood work.
  • Hurdle has still not announced his pitching assignments for Friday’s exhibition game against those fightin’ Manatees or for the start of Grapefruit League play. Once he does, I’ll be sure to post it here.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 2: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Hart, Kevin.jpgLet me start off today’s post-workout recap with a question for you: What’s the biggest challenge facing Clint Hurdle as he begins the task as this team’s next manager?

That was the question posed to me recently and the subject of a story I wrote for the main site today. You can find my answer to that inquiry here. And, of course, I would love to hear your thoughts as well, if you so desire to share.

Plenty else to run through at the end of another workout day, so let’s get rolling:

  • First baseman Lyle Overbay arrived in Bradenton last night and made his first appearance at Pirate City on Tuesday. Overbay helped out during the pitchers’ fielding practice, and he took some cuts during batting practice. With Overbay in uniform, the Pirates are now just missing seven of their 62 players.
  • Right-hander Kevin Hart was out on the field before workouts going through his long toss program. Hart had been shut down for 10 days and given a cortisone shot to help reduce inflammation in his surgically-repaired shoulder. All went well on Tuesday as he got to throwing again. The Pirates aren’t going to rush Hart’s progression, though, so it will be a while before he takes the mound again.
  • Congratulations are in order for Manny Sanguillen, who was recently inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame. He was part of the second class of inductees and was joined by Edgar Martinez, Luis Tiant, Andres Galarraga, Rico Carty, Dennis Martinez and Fernando Valenzuela. The ceremony was held this past Saturday in the Dominican Republic.
  • I had the opportunity to meet pitching prospect Luis Heredia today, as he spent the morning watching the Major League Spring Training workouts. He asked to leave the Pirate City dorms and watch. Heredia also threw a long toss session in the afternoon. He is scheduled to throw off the mound on Thursday. My first impression: very cordial kid, and very tall! And to think that he is already 6-foot-6 and only 16, with time to continue growing.
  • The following 16 players threw their scheduled bullpen sessions on Tuesday: Charlie Morton, Brian Burres, Fernando Nieve, Chris Resop, Sean Gallagher, Tony Watson, Cesar Valdez, Tyler Yates, Jeff Karstens, Justin Thomas, Brad Lincoln, Chris Leroux, Daniel McCutchen, Ramon Aguero, Daniel Moskos and Bryan Morris.
  • The final number of side session was then pushed to 17 when Donnie Veal took the mound for a short side after the rest of the group had finished. Veal is on a different track than the rest of the pitchers, since he is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • Pitching coach Ray Searage (unsolicited) specifically praised three pitchers for looking particularly sharp in their first official bullpen session — Yates, Evan Meek, and Michael Crotta. Speaking of Meek, Searage said: “That was the best ‘pen I’ve ever seen out of Meek. Good gosh, it was solid.”
  • You can find more about this in the lengthy Pirates Beat that will be posted on the main site later this afternoon, but lefty Scott Olsen is being particularly cautious in his Spring Training progression this year. The goal is to ensure that the left shoulder, which has caused him injury issues over the past two years, does not flare up. A slower progression won’t affect his ability to compete for a rotation spot.
  • You won’t be seeing any strings during the side sessions any more. The strings that former pitching coach Joe Kerrigan used to put across home plate as a marker for pitch location are gone. The dummies are still around, but they will not be used all that much anymore, either.
  • Right-hander Brad Lincoln has reported to camp a few pounds lighter after some tough offseason conditioning work. His breaking ball isn’t all that sharp yet, though that’s obviously common at this point in the spring. As for his mechanics — which were badly tinkered with last season — Searage said they are back to where they need to be. Searage also promised that he would not be forcing any new mechancial changes on Lincoln moving forward.
  • Don’t expect the Pirates to name an Opening Day starter until at least midway through the Grapefruit League schedule. Hurdle said he already has some candidates, but he wants to see these starters pitch in games before a final schedule is mapped out.
  • Congratulations are also in order for James McDonald, who got engaged down here on Monday night.
  • The Pirates remain mum on their closer decision. It should be made this week, though.
  • Outfielder Matt Diaz is looking for 120 volunteers to help him build a playground for the Winter Haven Boys and Girls club on March 15. If you want more information, go here.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Video: Pirates alumni invade Bradenton

Jenifer Langosch/

This next video I created will complement a story that I’m writing today for about the Pirates alumni who are here as special instructors at Spring Training. The group includes Kent Tekulve, Manny Sanguillen, Bill Virdon and Bill Mazeroski. The written story will delve into their reasons for coming and the impact they have with players, but I thought it would be interesting to also ask each about their favorite Spring Training memories as a player. It’s those answers that you’ll find in this video.

Hope you enjoy, and again, you can find a full story about these ol’ timers later in the day.


Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 8: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Jaramillo (1) 02-18 _212.jpgThe 25-30 mph winds in Bradenton today played havoc with the catcher’s pop-up drills (and not to mention on my hair), but it made for quite the entertainment. There were by far more balls dropped than caught during the session, which explained why a handful of onlookers would clap when one was actually caught. The balls were launched 200+ feet high in the air.

Former Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen watched the entire session, often mumbling under his breath. “That’s the worst execution I’ve seen!” he said at one point. “Get your glove up! Get it up!” Sanguillen said at another. Sanguillen certainly made some valid points, but to the catcher’s defense, that wind was playing games with them.

Anyways, here’s everything else you could want to know about this blustery day:

  • A second group of pitchers — Zach Duke, Charlie Morton, Vinnie Chulk (who looks eerily similar to Adam LaRoche), Evan Meek, Ramon Aguero, Ronald Uviedo, Daniel McCutchen, Brian Burres, Jeremy Powell, Javier Lopez, Wil Ledezma, Brian Bass, Jeff Sues and Jean Machi — threw live batting practice.
  • Pitchers will all get a day off from throwing on Friday before each group throws one day this weekend. That means that Friday’s workouts will be short and sweet. Many of the players are also participating in a charity golf tournament during the afternoon, so there is incentive for a quick day.
  • No word yet on Joel Hanrahan and Jose Ascanio’s visit to see Dr. Andrews. As soon as we get any information, I’ll pass that along.
  • Right-hander Octavio Dotel (left side soreness) is progressing, though the Pirates have not yet determined the exact day he’ll return to the field. Manager John Russell: “He’s feeling better. We’re just kind of still day-to-day. We’ll see how he does the next couple of days and hopefully get him out there pretty soon.”
  • For anyone who might be in Bradenton, there is a Pirates/Marauders pep rally from 6-10 pm on Thursday on Old Main Street. There are supposed to be 15 current players in attendance, as well as Frank Coonelly and Steve Blass. The jerseys for the Bradenton Marauders (high-A) are expected to be revealed at 7 pm.
  • The MLB Network has plans to televise four of the Pirates’ Spring Training games: March 3 at 1 pm (Pirates @ Yankees), March 10 at 7 pm (Orioles @ Pirates), March 13 at 7 pm (Pirates @ Red Sox), March 14 at 9 pm (Yankees @ Pirates).

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB 

Day 4: Daily Squeeze

Jenifer Langosch/

Sanchez,T (2) 02-20 _230.jpgOne thing I learned in journalism school was that you know you’ve done your job as a reporter when you have so many notes for one story that you are forced to throw three-fourths of them out because you don’t have enough space. That was close to the case this afternoon as I was working on a feature about Tony Sanchez, the Pirates’ first-round Draft pick last year.

First off, Sanchez is a delight to talk with. Very engaging. Very cordial. Seems genuinely appreciative for the chance to be at Major League camp. But the praise he has already been receving from others was what really struck me. You’ll find much of that in the story on the main site shortly.

But because I wasn’t able to use half of the information I collected, I wanted to share one thing from Sanchez that didn’t make it into my main story. We got to talking about his opportunity to join the high-A Lynchburg team at the very end of its season (Sanchez had been playing for low-A West Virginia) just in time to help the team in the playoffs.

Yes, he talked about how neat it was to win the Carolina League Championship. But Sanchez spent most of the time lamenting the fact that because he got called up for the playoffs, the catchers who had helped Lynchburg get there were forced to sit on the bench:

“It wasn’t the position I wanted to be in, though I know it’s a business now. Those catchers have caught those guys for 142 games. They were putting in the work to get to the playoffs. Then I showed up and ended up catching the playoffs. It was kind of bittersweet. I loved to move up and I loved to help that team win a championship, but I know that those catchers had worked so hard for their team to get to the playoffs. I kind of felt bad. But I did whatever I could to help them win.”

This seems to speak to Sanchez character very much. With him, you’re not going to find a guy who feels entitled to anything even though he was a top Draft pick. He wants to earn everything. And he wants to do things right.

Anyways, here’s the rest of your daily squeeze:

  • Gorgeous day here at Pirate City. First real good weather day yet.
  • The 16-pitcher group that threw side sessions on Friday were back throwing off the mounds on Sunday. As you can read here, they have pink strings and strips of rubber to help them out.
  • Position players had the option of taking the day off (remember, there is no official full squad workout until Tuesday) and many of them did. However, the following 10 players still showed up to take part in fielding practice and BP: Jose Tabata, Garrett Jones, Steve Pearce, Doug Bernier, Brian Myrow, Jeff Clement, Brian Friday, Brandon Jones, Aki Iwamura and John Raynor. Of that group, only Iwamura and Jones have already been guaranteed Opening Day starting spots.
  • Bullpen catcher Heberto Andrande has still not been able to arrive to help out with camp. He is stuck in Venezuela with visa issues.
  • I asked Manny Sanguillen, who works with the catchers, how the group looked this year. He answered by singling out Ryan Doumit: “Ryan has really come a long way. I’m happy with his attitude, and he looks good.”
  • When asked if he had given any thought to who might be the team’s Opening Day starting pitcher, manager John Russell succinctly answered: “No.” My guess? Paul Maholm, followed by Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke and Charlie Morton. Pure speculation on my part.
  • Did I mention the weather was beautiful today?
  • For those of you who have been asking when another video will be posted, be patient. I’m working on one right now that is going to include a handful of interviews. Hopefully I’ll have it up by the end of the week.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

Day 6 Daily Squeeze


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DSC00249 (Small).jpg(Neil Walker working with Gregg Ritchie, the Pirates’ roving hitting instructor)

And now your sights and sounds from a blustery Pirate City:

  • Third baseman Andy LaRoche did not participate in workouts today (fielding or hitting) after having some slight back spasms on Wednesday. LaRoche said the lower back pain wasn’t anything to be worried about, and the Pirates simply decided to sit him for precautionary reasons. He is expected to be back participating in full tomorrow.
  • Pedro Lopez arrived in Bradenton late on Wednesday and worked out with the team on Thursday. With Lopez in camp, the Pirates have 57 players now at Spring Training.
  • Utilityman Luis Cruz told me today that he has declined an invitation to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in March. Cruz didn’t seem too disappointed and said that he would have his best chance to make the club out of Spring Training if he stayed with the team all through camp.
  • Speaking of the World Baseball Classic, both Ian Snell and Ramon Vazquez have committed to playing for Team Puerto Rico. Vazquez will be the team’s starting third baseman, and as a result, he has been taking extra infield practice at third this week. Snell started his throwing program earlier than usual this spring and will have one start with the Pirates before joining the Puerto Rican team. Manager John Russell said that should ensure that Snell is ready to go for WBC games.
  • Had another interesting conversation with Manny Sanguillen today, who pulled me aside to share some insight. He watched Pedro Alvarez take batting practice earlier in the week and had to do a double-take: “I saw that swing, and I thought it was Willie,” Sanguillen said, referring, of course, to Willie Stargell. “It’s the same power, the same [bat] path. I’ve never seen that since Willie.” And the Sanguillen offered his prediction on Alvarez: “That kid — he’s going to be really special.”
  • Sanguillen also wanted to let me know that his 50-foot putt for eagle at Wednesday’s Charity Golf Tournament was the highlight of the day (in his opinion, of course).
  • Sanguillen wasn’t the only one wanting to catch a sneak peak at Alvarez. During morning fielding drills, the largest crowd, by far, packed around the field where Alvarez was. Considering all the team’s starting infielders were on a different field, fans had to be there to watch Alvarez.
  • The infielders had the added bonus of trying to catch pop-ups with a gusting wind outside this morning, which made the drill a bit entertaining at times for onlookers. But props to Freddy Sanchez, who made the acrobatic catch of the day by sprinting into right field, doing a 360, falling and making the catch.
  • In the meantime, pitchers worked on rundowns on other fields and catchers focused on throwing out baserunners.
  • Nine pitchers threw bullpen sessions today, and most had the dummies set up next to the plate to emulate a real pitcher-hitter situation. Tomorrow, pitchers will throw live BP for the first time. Eighteen pitchers are expected to do so on Friday.
  • I saw fan favorite Chuck Tanner from a distance today; it was the first time I had spotted him here since I arrived. He’s one of a handful of Pirates alumni who work with the team during the spring. Also here are Bill Virdon, Bill Mazeroski, Kent Tekulve and Sanguillen.
  • Friday’s workout will last longer than usual, with it concluding at about 2 p.m.
  • And if you didn’t already see it below, earlier I posted an entry relaying President Frank Coonelly’s message to the team earlier today. Coonelly addressed the team in a meeting before workouts. Scroll down a bit to see what was said.

Quote of the Day: “Watch. These guys are looking much better. They are going to surprise some people this year.” — Sanguillen, on team as a whole.

Until tomorrow…

Day 1 Short Hops

The first official pitchers and catchers workout has come and gone. One day down… and I’m too afraid to count the number of days to go, so I’ll refrain in order to keep my sanity. The plan, though, throughout those remaining days of Spring Training is to use this blog to supplement the regular stories on the site. So be sure to check back here for all the miscellaneous details and anecdotes each day.

Your short hops (as I’m going to call them until someone suggests a better subtitle) for today:

  • 18 of the 34 pitchers in camp threw bullpen sessions (35 pitches) on Saturday. That would include: Ross Ohlendorf, Ian Snell, Jimmy Barthmaier, Brian Slocum, Matt Capps, Sean Burnett, Tyler Yates, Virgil Vasquez, Donnie Veal, Jesse Chavez, Chris Bootcheck, Craig Hansen, Juan Mateo, Evan Meek, Jeff Sues, Ronald Uviedo, Daniel Haigwood and Romulo Sanchez. Those that didn’t throw on Saturday are scheduled to do so on Sunday (the only exception, of course, being Phil Dumatrait, who remains about three weeks behind schedule).
  • All players reported (i.e. no visa problems) and all underwent physicals and EKGs before the team meeting began at 11:30.
  • After taking the field at 12:20 to do long toss, the pitchers split up onto four fields and took part in a variety of drills — fielding bunts, covering first base, etc.
  • At the same time the pitchers were doing fielding drills, the catchers worked on fielding bunts and position players Brandon Moss, Nyjer Morgan and Garrett Jones took part in BP.
  • Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan relayed his plans for dealing with the shortened workout schedule this spring due to the World Baseball Classic. Kerrigan said he plans to use nine relievers for one inning apiece in the Pirates’ first Grapefruit League game on Feb. 25. Starters will then begin pitching on Feb. 26.
  • Kerrigan has also begun introducing pitchers to two “dummies” that he will be using in an exercise to get pitchers more comfortable pitching inside. Right now, the dummies are being set up while pitchers play catch from 55 feet so that they can get used to them being there. As Kerrigan put it: “It’s just so that they get used to training their eyes so that they can get the hitter out of the picture when they pitch inside.” Later this spring, those dummies will be placed next to the plate every time a pitcher throws a sides session.

I also had the pleasure of spending some time talking with former Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen on Saturday after he took a seat next to me to watch the bullpen sessions. The always loquacious Sanguillen had plenty to say, so I figured I would pass along the highlights:

  • Sanguillen will be working with the catchers until heading back to Panama on March 6. I asked him if he would be donning catching gear at some point like he did last year and he said: “Of course.”
  • He lauded improvements Ryan Doumit has made defensively in the past year, noting that he’s doing a better job of staying down to block pitches in the dirt.
  • Sanguillen also singled out Burnett and Capps for their side sessions. He was especially complimentatry of the movement of Burnett’s pitches and an improved arm angle by the lefty.
  • I also asked Manny if he’d be helping out at all with Team Panama in the World Baseball Classic. He said he was invited to help, but declined the invitation. He hopes to be involved during the next WBC.

Quote of the Day: “It’s time for us as an organization to realize that losing is not acceptable.It’s not an acceptable way of life for a Pirate.” — Manager John Russell, repeating his message from the team meeting. 

Sunday’s workout begins with a 9:30 am team meeting and then on-field work from 10 am – 1 pm