Category: Dailies

Spring Training: Days 2-3

By: Noah Frank

The Giants took a trip out to Surprise yesterday and handed the Rangers the second loss in as many games between last year’s World Series participants this spring. San Francisco continues to look particularly sharp here in Arizona, compiling a Major League-best 14-5 overall mark to this point, even with today’s loss to Milwaukee.

Doing his part along the way has been 2010 Grizzlies reliever Steve Edlefsen, who has gone 1-0 with a save and has not allowed a hit, walking three and fanning five over 5.2 scoreless Spring Training innings. Before this afternoon’s matchup with the Brewers, I had a chance to sit down with “Eddy”, and we chatted for a bit about his tricky name, his eventful offseason and a quick look ahead at 2011.

Q: Have they been getting your name wrong in spring so far?

A: On the loudspeaker they’ve doing an ok job. I’ve gotten it butchered here and there, but it hasn’t been too bad.

Q: It seems like you’re hitting your stride early on. How has everything felt so far?

A: I’ve felt good, you know, I’m just trying to get my legs under me, get my arm slot figured out. So far it’s gone well, I just want to stay (in Major League camp) as long as I can, hopefully put some pressure on these guys at the end of Spring and we’ll see what happens.

Q: This was a big offseason for you– you got married and you were added to the 40-man roster.

A: It was an exciting offseason, but it was a quick offseason. I feel like it was just a couple of weeks ago that we were packing up our stuff in Fresno. It was great to be added the 40-man, it’s an honor, it’s something you strive for. It’s a start, it’s not exactly where I want to be, I want to be on the 25-man. But it’s a good point in my career and it was exciting to hear that, and obviously getting married was a blessing and a great time in our lives.

Q: You were an All-Star for the Grizzlies last year, but struggled with some injuries. Do you still feel like you have something to prove this season?

A: Yeah, I just want to build off (last year), is what it comes down to. In this game you have to prove yourself every day, so I always feel like I’ve got something to prove. But I’m excited with where I’m at, Spring Training’s gone well so far, so I just want to keep trying to throw well and keep trying to be consistent.

Spring Training: Day 1 Recap

By: Noah Frank

After a flight delay, a missed connection and a rental car line that looked more like the wait for an amusement park rollercoaster, I finally stumbled into Scottsdale Stadium unfashionably late. Of course, arriving in the bottom of the second inning of a Dodger game is pretty much par for the course, just not for the Giants.

The packed house of 12,081 (a new Scottsdale Stadium record, evidently) was fairly laid-back, coming to life only for home runs from Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, and a standing ovation as Brian Wilson entered the game to pitch a 1-2-3 sixth inning in relief. The Giants
ran out a starting nine very close to what they may well showcase against these
same Dodgers on Opening Day in a couple weeks:

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Torres CF
Sanchez 2B
Huff 1B
Posey C
Tejada SS
Burrell LF
Ross RF
DeRosa 3B
Ishikawa DH
Runzler LHP

Of course, there will be no DH, and Tim Lincecum will be toeing the rubber for the defending World Champs, but otherwise it looks pretty close.

By the seventh inning, however, that Opening Day lineup was all but departed from the field, leaving something that looks a lot like what Grizzlies fans will see at Chukchansi Park on April 7th. At that point, the Giants had Jackson Williams behind the plate, Brandon Belt at first, Emmanuel Burriss at second, Conor Gillaspie at third, Brandon Crawford at shortstop and Thomas Neal in left field. While that may be a projection into the future for Giants fans, it was very much a picture of the present for the Grizzlies.

Gillaspie made a nice play at the plate to gun down a runner trying to score from third on a ground ball, but later committed an error that opened the flood gates on reliever Javier Lopez, leading to a four-run inning for the Dodgers. Only one of the four runs was unearned, though, as the Dodgers turned a 6-3 deficit into a 7-6 advantage. But the Giants survived a double-play ball from Williams in the ninth and compiled a two-out, two-run rally to send the crowd home happy with an 8-7 win.

Hopefully I’ll get a closer look at our future Grizzlies today as the Giants take on Texas out in Surprise. I’ll also hopefully have some audio from Steve Decker (whoI ran into while checking in to the hotel) on his thoughts so far this spring and for the upcoming season.

(Photo: Scottsdale Stadium from behind the berm in right-center field)

Prospect Watch: Thomas Neal

Prospects have always been a hot topic during Spring Training and this year is no exception. Players like Brandon Belt, Zach Wheeler, Conor Gillaspie, and Darren Ford all ring a bell to any Giants lover. During this year’s Spring Training, much has been made about the Giants top prospect, Brandon Belt, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye on outfielder Thomas Neal as well.
Neal has produced consistently strong Minor League numbers that have landed him in the top seven of Baseball America‘s Giants prospects list each of the last two years. Not only has he shown a good glove in the outfield, committing just 19 errors across his five-year minor league career, but he has also shown enough pop in his bat to be a potential big leaguer.

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In 2009, a then 21-year-old Neal put up break through numbers that shot him up the ranks of Giants prospects. He batted .337 (160-for-475) with 67 extra-base hits in 129 games with the San Jose Giants. He also belted 22 of those out of the park and polished off the season with 90 runs batted in. These outstanding numbers nabbed Neal the 2009 San Jose Giants MVP award.
He advanced to Double-A in 2010 with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, where he proceeded to post solid numbers yet again. He compiled a .291 batting average, also cleared the 40-double mark for the second straight year. His career minor league line of .296/.375/.475, has helped him rise steadily through the minor league ranks.
His overall performance in the minor league system eventually scored him a spot on the Giants 40-man roster in mid November. Neal is currently playing on Major League Spring Training with the Giants in Scottsdale, Arizona. He will more than likely end up in Fresno for the beginning of the season and has a possibility of making his Major League debut in San Francisco in 2011.
In addition to being a noted prospect, Neal has joined the Twitter trend that has exploded within the sports world recently. His username @TdaddyNeal is constantly being updated before and after (but hopefully not during) Spring Training games. Neal logs in daily to tweet about Spring Training, day-to-day life, random questions of the night and favorite quotes. He frequently interacts with fans through Twitter, which is always great for a technologically keyed-in Giants fan base.
His down-to-earth online persona has received positive attention, helping him attain a collection of over 2,200 followers, as of this article. Check into Yard Work in the near future to catch a full length interview with Thomas Neal, in the mean time feel free to start following @TdaddyNeal, as I do, for everyday updates from the prospect himself.
(Photo Credit: Real Life Studios)

Grizzlies Alumni Report: Sergio Romo


Who: Sergio Romo
When He Was a Grizzly: Sergio Romo made three appearances for the Grizzlies in the late summer of 2008. He made three more appearances in a short one week stint with the Grizzlies in 2009.

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Fresno Highlights:
     In Sergio’s six games as a Grizzly, he pitched nine innings from the bullpen and allowed no earned runs.
     Sergio struck out 10 batters while allowing only two free passes.
     Sergio made his triumphant return to Fresno with the World Champions Trophy in February 2011 as a special guest speaker for the Hot Stove Gala.
Where He Went From There: After making his Major League debut for the San Francisco Giants on June 26th, 2008, Sergio appeared in Fresno before being returned to the Major Leagues on August 16th. In his debut against the Cleveland Indians, Sergio entered the game in relief and struck out two batters in one inning pitched on the road. The following season, Sergio recorded his first Major League save on July 7th at AT&T Park in San Francisco against the Florida Marlins, striking out the final two batters to seal a 3-0 victory for the Giants.
Where He is Now: In 2010, Sergio mostly played the role of setup man for closer Brian Wilson. It was his biggest year as a Major Leaguer so far, as he recorded a 5-3 record with a 2.18 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched. Sergio struggled in the National League Division Series, giving up three runs in 0.2 innings pitched, perhaps contributing to the “torture” of watching Giants baseball. However, Sergio was able to rebound in the National League Championship Series and World Series, where he tossed three scoreless innings, helping the Giants in their championship quest.
Career Highlights:
     In his short career, Sergio has a 13-6 record with a 2.63 ERA
     Sergio contributed to one of the most exciting home wins in Giants history when he setup Brian Wilson for the save against the Padres in the final regular season game to clinch the division. He sat down both batters that he faced, striking out one of them.
     In 2010, Sergio had a 1.47 ERA in eighth innings, solidifying his role as the setup man for the Giants.

The Social Network

By: Noah Frank

So yes, the
title of this post is obviously a play on the upcoming Academy Awards and the
favorite in the Best Picture category. But did you know that the Grizzlies have
been at the forefront of the social media push in Minor League Baseball? Thanks
to you, our great fans, we have become one of the leaders in followers, as it
were, and we’re continuing our push to lead the way in social media.

A few weeks
ago I was scanning through our social media sites and realized that the
Grizzlies Official Twitter Account was within a few dozen people of cracking
5,000 followers. As I browsed the rest of the Pacific Coast League teams’
accounts, I found that we were 

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leading the pack (albeit narrowly), but had the
best chance of cracking the milestone mark first. It was one of those
opportunities that I didn’t want to waste, or let slip by.

I converged
with our marketing department and we secured two tickets to our Hot Stove Gala
to give away to one of our followers. While that was a nice incentive for one
winner, I wanted the chance to reward all of our followers for the community
they have become. So, we worked with our tickets department to create an
awesome Opening Weekend Package full of special perks, unique to this offer.
Plus, we got a great price exclusively for our Twitter following.

We rolled
out a press release exclusively through Twitter, directing people back to our
website for the special ticket offer. The idea of using Twitter as the
exclusive platform for a press release was intriguing, as it was something that
we had never done before, and that I hadn’t heard of others doing either. Sure,
people often will include a link to a release that has been put out to the
public, but a Twitter exclusive?

We pushed
the message out on a Friday morning, attempting to reach the plateau before the
weekend. We crept along much of the day, inching closer and closer, then caught
fire and skyrocketed past the 5,000 mark. Thanks to some publicity, both local
and national, we pushed through and have possibly ignited a friendly social
media competition with our 

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neighbors to the north up in Reno. The Aces have the
second largest Twitter following in the league and are the only team ahead of
us in Facebook followers as of the writing of this post.

While we’re
thrilled to be the first to reach the 5K followers mark on Twitter, we still
have a push to make to hit the 15,000 fans mark on Facebook (and catch Reno).
So, we’ll be rolling out a number of Facebook-only offers in the weeks leading
up to Opening Day. If you aren’t already a “fan” on Facebook, make sure you
“like” us
and spread the word to all your friends.

This is your
chance to have a dialogue with us about how to make the Grizzlies the best
organization for Fresno. This is your team, after all. Tell us what kinds of
offers you want to have us put out there, what will help you better enjoy your
Grizzlies experience.

Oh, by the
way, there are just 41 days left until Opening Day. Get excited!

A Day In The Life Of… The Datacaster

By: Jim Nelson

Have you ever wondered how the game is produced over the
internet? How box scores and stats are entered into the record book, or how you
can watch the game in real-time on your computer if you’re not able to make it
to the ballpark? It’s a job done entirely by one person … In this case,
me! My name is Jim Nelson, and I’m
the datacaster/stringer for the Fresno Grizzlies. I am in my fifth year with the
Grizzlies, working alongside the rest of my colleagues up in the stadium press
box.

To land my job, I started by first taking a 10-page written
test issued by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). This test is based
on general baseball knowledge, and included many obscure questions that only a
true baseball fan would know the answer to. My testing then advanced to calling
games on paper; I was sent a series of plays as if scoring a live game, and it
was up to me to determine the calls. Finally, after a series of telephone
interviews with MLB in New York, I was offered a job with the Fresno Grizzlies.
At that time, I had no idea what I was in for, but I am glad I made the
decision to pursue it!

My gamedays start about an hour before each game when I go
up to the press box and grab the lineups for each team. I take my seat right
behind home plate, which I believe is the best seat in the house!  I load the lineups, umpires, and even the
weather into the software 

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provided by MLBAM. Once I’ve made sure that all of the information is loaded
correctly, I get to go enjoy dinner with all the other folks in the press box.

Finally, it’s time to play ball! I sit in my seat and as the
game begins, I start entering strings of codes into the computer. The coding is
much like a foreign language. I record every single movement, from pitch
location, balls, strikes, hits, walks, errors, and all player movement on the
base paths. For example, 54/sac/bg.1-2
translates into a sacrifice bunt hit to
the 3rd baseman, with the 2nd baseman covering 1st, and the runner advancing to
2nd base
. Complicated, yet simple! Every move made during the game must be
entered– even things like a coach visiting the mound– as my accounting is the
official statistic for the record book. So who watches me, to see that I don’t make
an error? During the game, I am connected via AIM with MLBAM colleagues in New
York City, who watch each and every major and minor league game in play. If I
make a mistake, they are able to catch it, and let me know. I then make the
correction as needed. It’s always a
good night when I make it through an entire game without hearing from NYC!

Finally, while you’re watching fireworks or other post-game
activities, or filing out of the stadium, I will be busy in the press box
reviewing my work; the stats will be compiled and the box score created. I get final
approval from New York that all of my information is good. At that point, the box
score is printed. I hand the information over to the Grizzlies media personnel,
who distribute it to both managers and all media, and at that point, it becomes
the game of record.

If you’re not able to make it out to the ballpark, I welcome
you to follow the game in real time through the link at
http://www.fresnogrizzlies.com.

Grizzlies Alumni Report: Brian Wilson


Who: Brian Wilson nicknamed “B-Weezy”, friend/neighbor of “The Machine“.

When He Was a Grizzly: Wilson pitched on the Grizzlies for three years, where he made 64 closing appearances.

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Fresno Highlights:
    ? Had a total of 80 strikeouts in 73.2 innings pitched.
    ? Logged an ERA of 2.10 in 2007 in 31 games.
    ? Tallied 18 total saves with the Grizzlies.
    ? Allowed only two home runs in 73.2 innings pitched over three seasons.
Where He Went From Here: In 2006, Wilson made his Major League debut with the Giants on April 23rd, when he threw 2.0 scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Where He is Now: 2010 marked Wilson’s fourth year in the majors. His fearless ball-throwing skills helped carry the Giants to their first World Series Championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco in ’58. Also, Wilson is the keeper of the 2010 World Series game-winning baseball, which he stores in a Halloween candy jar in his kitchen. He is the face of the “Fear the Beard” slogan and is known for his bright orange cleats, that he began sporting after the All-Star game in 2010.
Career Highlights:
    ? In 2008, Brian became one of three pitchers in Giants history to have 40 saves in a single season.
    ? Made the National League All-Star team for first time in 2008, then again in 2010.
    ? Between May 2nd and August 20th 2008, Wilson had 24 consecutive saves.
    ? Finished off the 2010 season with 93 strikeouts in 74.7 innings pitched and led the NL with 48 saves.
(Photo Credit: Don Davis)