Friday's (1-10) Baseball Practice Notes

Preseason practice has begun at Sunken Diamond in preparation for the upcoming season which starts in just a little more than two weeks. Included in this report is a detailed description of today's intra-squad game, player position information, as well as the latest injury news.

Baseball has begun once again at Sunken Diamond as the 2003 Cardinal opened up their preseason practice schedule today.  The highlight of the practice was an intra-squad game that featured some outstanding pitching.  Here are some notes from today's action ...

* Tim Cunningham and John Hudgins were the two starting pitchers in today's game and it was a welcome sight to see Cunningham back on the mound as the senior lefty sat out the fall season.  Both pitchers threw about three or four innings today and both were very effective (the hitters started each at-bat with a 1-1 count).  Cunningham gave up only one run in his outing while walking two and striking out four.  The majority of his strikeouts were from off-speed pitches and he even appeared to be throwing pretty hard when he went with the fastball.  Hudgins also gave up just one run while recording four strikeouts.  I wouldn't classify either of these guys as strikeout pitchers (a la Jeremy Guthrie), but both picked-up their fair share of K's today and made guys like Carlos Quentin and Ryan Garko look foolish at times.  All in all, two very encouraging outings for Stanford's top two starters, the question is who will be the #1 guy?

* The other two hurlers that saw time today were senior Ryan McCally and freshman Kodiak Quick.  McCally struggled briefly at the start of his outing giving up a couple of hard hit balls, but rebounded to throw some quality innings.  As usual, he was around the plate and looked to have a nice change-up working today.  McCally is certainly a candidate for the #3 spot in the rotation, but he would be a valuable late-inning, closer type pitcher if he were to stay in the bullpen.  Meanwhile, Quick continued to throw well after his impressive fall season.  The freshman has a 3/4 release and because of it, there's always a lot of movement on his pitches.  I especially liked a sequence he had with Sam Fuld at the plate as he threw a 1-1 off speed pitch low-and-in that Fuld swung over the top on, and then came back with a sizzling 1-2 fastball on the outside corner that caught Fuld looking.  I expect Quick to see plenty of innings out of the bullpen this year.

* As you can probably already tell, it was a pitching dominated practice.  This definitely isn't a surprise considering who threw today and the pitching usually is ahead of the hitting when the team comes back from winter break.  There were no homeruns hit in today's game and I can't even recall an extra-base hit from any of the batters.  John Mayberry led the hitters with a 3-for-4 performance while the only real other hard hit balls were a line drive single to the left-center field gap by Donny Lucy, a lined single by Garko into left, and a hard line drive out by Fuld to first base.

* Defensively, there were no real surprises ... C - Lucy, Hester, Garko ... 1B - Mayberry, Garko ... 2B - Lewis, Lowrie, Ash ... 3B - Hall, Minaker ... SS - Lowrie, Lewis, Swope ... LF - Putnam, Minaker, Lucy ... CF - Fuld, Putnam ... RF - Quentin.

Now for some other random notes ...

* Garko continues to see lots of time over at first base.  He still looks pretty shaky over there at times but it seems the coaching staff is really looking hard over at him as a first baseman.  Although he didn't play first in the intra-squad game, Lucy looked like the top defensive first baseman on the team from what I saw in a defensive drill.  Mayberry also looks solid around the bag.  It will be interesting to see who plays where among these three guys, my prediction is Lucy behind the plate, Mayberry at first, and Garko at DH.  Lucy could also see time out in left field.

* Speaking of Donny Lucy, I really think this is going to be a big year for him.  He has the potential to be a 5-tool guy and he looks to have bulked-up some.

* Jed Lowrie and Chris Lewis continue to impress with their defense up the middle.  I especially like Lowrie, he's got such soft hands and can pick-up anything.

* The hitting teams in today's game were separated into three groups with the leadoff hitters in each respective group being Tobin Swope, Brian Hall, and Sam Fuld.  It's a pretty safe bet one of these three will be hitting leadoff this season.

* Billy Paganetti only worked out with the pitchers.

* Good news on Chris Carter and that he is out of the sling that he was in after minor shoulder surgery in November.  He was at practice in full uniform and acted as a base coach during the intra-squad game.  By all accounts, it appears Carter will be back in time to make an impact this season.

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