Each week, we'll take the best bits and quotes from Sweets players and put them in our Thursday feature for the listening pleasure of our audience. This week's edition is for before, during, or after your late-night snack.
This week, a special shouldn't-be-up-at-this-hour edition as we make the run-up to Opening Night presented by Edward Jones at Borleske. The Sweets dropped a strange exhibition in Yakima that featured two designated hitters in the home lineup, and a bottom of the ninth inning after the game had been won by the Pippins, so Travis Ulvestad pitched in front of about 50 fans instead of 1,500.
So, what were the impressions of the new manager Frank Mutz after his team's first outing? He likes the pitching staff:
The bats definitely came out slow, with just four hits and a double-digit strikeout total. Who steps up to lead the offense? Hitting coach Jimmy Milkovich weighs in:
Hechtner snagged a hit in three at-bats, drew a walk, and stole a base late. McCready picked up a single going the other way that bounced into foul territory but got cut down trying to stretch the single into a double. Geary came up empty in four trips, but put together some competitive at-bats. Speaking of Geary, he did a little of everything with VMI, starting as a leadoff man and shifting down in the order as the season went on to generate more RBI opportunities. Geary says there isn't much change in approach:
Geary likely won't lead off much, especially early in the season with so many fast outfielders ahead of him in the order. Is he okay with that?
Mutz also has the first four pitchers in his rotation set, at least until more players file in. In addition to Sean-Luke Brija (more on this later) starting opening night against Medford, the Sweets will roll out southpaw Cooper Powell on Saturday. Powell has quite a reputation, says the skipper:
As for the former Gatorade Nevada Player of the Year, he wants to take things as they come in his first live game in over a year:
Sunday will see Micah Gorman get the ball with the hopes of grinding his way through a good outing:
With a day off Monday, the fourth starter will go Tuesday against Wenatchee. That's Jeider "Papi" Rincon, another left-hander who brings a teammate with him in Travis Ulvestad. Ulvestad sat the Pippins down in order in the ninth, and sized up his fellow USF Don for us:
Mutz was quite pleased with Rincon's work in Yakima, and simply for the chance to have him here as a more or less last-minute addition:
Rincon struck out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth inning on Wednesday.
There was no doubt or debate about where Sean-Luke Brija would stay when he returned to Walla Walla. We got his thoughts on the Swanson family:
David Geary shares similar enthusiasm for the weather in the Walla Walla Valley compared to the muggy climes of the South this time of year:
The One That's Better in Print
For some reason, there's always an outtake or a piece of sound from every venture of this sort that, while funny or quotable, doesn't quite make it cleanly to tape. Outfielder Jon Hechtner provides this week's example with a line regarding his impressive mustache that didn't make the trip to Walla Walla nor, as it turns out, to the spring.
"I haven't had [the mustache] since picture day. Coaches are giving me flak, so it might come back. You never know."
Hechtner has opted for the full beard instead, which requires less precision and gives him a head start on everyone else come postseason time, but at least there's a chance.