Yesterday I went to an exhibition game between the San Fransisco Giants and Team USA from the World Baseball Classic tournament. It was really great to see some of the best baseball players in the world and it was even more interesting to see who was going to start and who was going to be sitting on the bench. The tournament itself is targeted toward being somewhat of a replacement for Spring Training which is happening at the same time. In the first few rounds of the tournament the pitchers are on regulated pitch counts. The players themselves are on unregulated but fairly well spoken rules that they really will not generally play a whole game. Most players only went five innings and to make sure that team USA was ready for the tournament the game was schedule for 10 instead of nine innings.
It was fun to see so many familiar faces, including on the coaching staff. Ken Griffey was coaching first base and John McLaren coaching third base. Griffey ended his career playing with his son on the Mariners (look for Sr., Jr. and Trey as the ball boy at the USA vs. Canada game on Wednesday). McLaren was the third base coach for many years and left when Lou Penilla went to the Devil Rays.
On the field itself it was great to see a lot of players that played in Seattle. In some later post I will list all of those with a Seattle connection. One interesting thing was that on Ken Griffey Jr.’s uniform it actually said "Griffey Jr.". The word is that the Jr. will be gone by tomorrow’s first round game. Sr. had taken number 30 which Jr. is wearing in Cincinnati so Jr is wearing number 3. I am very happy that I will be coming home with a World Baseball Classic official ball signed by Jr. I am not sure I have a ball of his from his days in Seattle.
The game itself was kind of slow. Roger Clemens was the started but only pitched two innings. The star of the day in the USA win over the Giants 12-7 was Chase Utley of the Phillies who went 5-5. Al Leiter really struggled for USA. Most of the starters only went five innings and it was strange to see Alex Rodriguez come in as a replacement in the fifth inning. I did see that his is going to start tomorrow when the USA plays Mexico.
Scottsdale stadium has had a lot of improvements to it. They actually have a practice field and new batting cages. The stadium itself has added a bunch of seats and they built up the grass berm so that the stadium itself looks a lot more like Surprise or Perioa.
Go Team USA!
Update: I added the photos. These were taken by Gretchen S.