* It was the final tune-up for starters John Hudgins and Tim Cunningham and both once again impressed out on the hill. Hudgins went four innings giving up just one hit and one unearned run. He walked only one and struck out four. He's throwing hard, the breaking ball looks good, and the change-up continues to baffle hitters. Cunningham also threw well tossing four innings yielding one run and two hits. The southpaw walked only one while recording two K's. The run Cunningham gave up though was not a good one from his standpoint. He walked the leadoff hitter, the runner went on to steal second, advanced to third on ground out and then scored on a wild pitch. Other than that hiccup though, it was a very solid outing. An announcement should come in the next day or two as to who will be the #1 starter, at least to start the season.
* Ryan McCally and Kodiak Quick were the first two relievers to see time today and both of these guys also continued to throw well. McCally went five full innings giving up just two unearned runs and three hits. He didn't walk anyone while picking up one strikeout. The senior right hander continues to display outstanding control as he was always getting out ahead of hitters 0-1 and often 0-2. Quick also went five innings and except for one bad inning, threw very well. The freshman worked a 1-2-3 first inning but ran into some trouble his next time out. Jonny Ash rapped a hard ground ball to third that Brian Hall couldn't handle and then Carlos Quentin stepped to the plate and blasted a home run to left. Quick looked a little rattled out there after the home run as he then gave up a hard hit single to Mayberry, a walk to Lucy, and a single to Ash. After the dust had settled, two more runs had come across. Quick would finally settle down though tossing two shutout, no-hit innings after that rough patch. All told, Kodiak gave up five runs (three earned) and five hits in his five innings of work.
* David O'Hagan and Jonny Dyer finished the afternoon each throwing an inning apiece. O'Hagan looked good with a perfect 1-2-3 frame but Dyer continued to struggle giving up two runs on three hits with a couple of walks mixed in.
* As for the hitters ... it started out as a very quiet afternoon with Hudgins and Cunningham dealing but picked up toward the end. Carlos Quentin, Donny Lucy, and Ryan Garko are the guys that stand out in my mind as having good days today. As mentioned earlier, Quentin hit a home run and also had a couple sizzling line drives. It's looking like he's going to have a monster year. Garko had a double off the wall in right and chipped in two other singles. Lucy also was swinging well today with a couple of base hits.
* John Mayberry Jr. continues to look good at the plate but another part of his game has impressed me recently. I've seen John steal a few bases the last couple of intra-squad games and it looks like that will be a part of his game at Stanford. I talk a lot about the power of this team (and it's certainly justified) but there are a lot of guys in this lineup that should steal plenty of bases this year. Swope, Hall, Lucy, and Fuld are real speedsters in this lineup while guys like Quentin and Mayberry have pretty good speed as well. This is a very well rounded offense and it should be really fun to watch this season.
* One down side to today's practice was the defense. Half the runs scored today were of the unearned variety and it was a little discouraging to see. Garko dropped a routine foul pop-up while playing first base and I can recall three or four misplays in the infield as well. Hopefully just a bad day.
* Turning the attention back to the pitching staff ... obviously the top two spots in the rotation are set but the question of who the #3 guy will be remains a mystery. From everything I've seen, Ryan McCally is the best available option. He had an outstanding year last season recording seven saves and a 3.53 ERA and dominated in the postseason (nine innings, three hits and one run allowed). I saw him pitch a lot in the fall and again here in the preseason and if Coach Marquess wants to go strictly with his best pitcher for the #3 spot, he'll go with McCally. Now on the flip side, Ryan would be an extremely valuable asset as a closer again this year and there's something to be said for having one of your very best pitchers out there in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings of close games. So, let the debate begin. If McCally doesn't start, it's looking like Mark Jecmen would be the guy but freshmen Mark Romanczuk and Matt Manship are coming on strong.
* A big problem last year was pitching depth in general. By all accounts, it looks like this year's team will be deeper as a staff. Hudgins, Cunningham, and McCally are three guys with loads of experience. Jecmen is a year older and looks improved. Quick has impressed in practice and will see lots of action out of the bullpen this year and may become the closer if McCally moves to the starting rotation. Romanczuk and Manship have also looked good in practice and should see plenty of action. Other middle relievers from a year ago in Ehrlich, O'Hagan, and Dyer are a year older and should improve. That's already ten pitchers right there and there could be more help on the way if Kopmar gets healthy and Paganetti continues to develop.