Before you all report me to the authorities for hazing, I'd like to point out that no catchers were harmed in the making of this post. Dustin Averett and Drew Bowers officially became members of the catching corps at Chatt Valley today by recieving a ceremonial ice bath administered by your truly and the returning catchers. Basically, it works like this: I lure the new fellas over to the front side of the dugout and get them into their squats. Instead of learning some golden nugget of baseball wisdom, however, they instead get showered with a cooler full of ice water dropped from the roof of the dugout. Everyone gets a good laugh about it, and a couple of guys go home wet.
I know, it's childish, but this is a game, right? I figure if it's an acceptable Superbowl celebration, it can't really be hazing...
So far, the first week has been great. Guys are gettign after it, and some things are already showing promise. I think Crossfit is proving to be tougher than some of the guys anticipated, but all in all, I am pleased with where we're at. Our infield sessions the last two days have been very sharp. I feel like we could probably put a solid defense out there tomorrow. Maybe not a mid-season defense, but certainly a solid one. By the end of the year, I think this group has a chance to be as good as any Pirate infield we've ever put out there. Dacen Cash is one of several Pirate infielders that has flashed some serious leather in the first few practices, and thus far, we haven't had anyone get "exposed" as a pretender.
Our outfield has looked very strong early on as well. This may be one of the better throwing groups we've had. It's going to be fun to see how the outfield shapes up though, because we will certainly be formidable in the corners, but with the loss of Shaun Harrison to injury, center field is going to be a battle. We've got several good candidates for the job, and over the next two months, it will be exciting to see who takes it upon themself to really grab ahold of that position and wrestle it away from the competition.
Behind the dish, we've got four guys that are pretty good, and each one of them is doing a great job right now. Keith Tidwell is a great example of how to work back there, and even this early, I can see it rubbing off on the other guys. In terms of depth, I doubt anyone will be our equal at backstop this spring. The guys tossing them the ball are looking sharp as well. The hype appears to have some validity right now, as our pitchers have come in ready to go. Vollenwieder and Alder are gonna cause some problems with their angles, and there are a whole bunch of guys who are gonna compete on "stuff" alone. "Stuff", for any baseball novices out there, is a term for the action, movement, or effectiveness of a pitcher's repertoire. If a guy has good "stuff", he's hard to hit when he's in the strike zone. I can tell you this, too: When we smooth over the rough edges with Irving Monte Reese we are going to have a serious weapon on our hands.