March 2011

Auggie up with the Cards

Bryan Augenstein (2007) took a tough loss out of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen in an extra-inning loss to San Diego on Thursday. Auggie was one of 12 pitchers to make the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster.

Augenstein was near dominant in the Cardinals’ bullpen during Spring Training, posting a 1-0 mark in seven appearances, spanning 11 2/3 innings pitched, with a 0.77 ERA and 15 strikeouts during Grapefruit League play. Augenstein allowed just five hits, three walks and one earned run.

Roster move update …

The staff here at Bird Droppings has just found out that RHP Derek Eitel (2010 Osprey) will not be in the South Bend bullpen … he is instead heading into the starting rotation for Class A Advanced Visalia. According to a post on his Facebook page, Eitel indicates that they will break camp on Saturday.

As we have indicated earlier, rosters are expected to be announced on Saturday or Sunday. The Osprey will be releasing the former players who have been placed at full-season clubs on Monday.

The time is now …

Here’s hoping that people are nice to you on Friday. While it will be Opening Day for everyone else who did not play on Thursday in the Major Leagues, it will also be … April Fool’s Day. So keep your  head on a swivel.

– A piece of Osprey information first – the annual Osprey Job Fair will be held on April 19, from 3-8 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in Missoula. More information will be coming soon to the club’s website, www.missoulaosprey.com.

– As has been the case in Bird Droppings this month, anytime we mention a player would be in contention for a roster spot (Pedro Ciriaco and Jordan Norberto, anyone?), the opposite ends up happening. Now, we could call it a curse, but we’re citing other sources with this information, so we deny any and all bad ju-ju associated with such moves.

That being said, hours after we mentioned he was in the mix for a relief position in the bullpen, right-hander Esmerling Vasquez  was sent to Triple-A Reno, despite having a solid spring.

– In Nick Piecoro’s blog, a scout asseses the D-backs player-by-player. The assessments include some good stuff on the beforementioned Norberto.

– Charles Brewer (2009) danced with perfection in his last spring outing, pitching 4 2/3 perfect innings in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ exhibition game with Monterry of the Mexican League. Brewer’s final line – 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0BB, 5K. Brewer allowed a single and back-to-back home runs before getting that final out of the fifth, plus also managed to lay down a sacrifice bunt. He also picked up the win in an 11-4 D-backs’ rout.

– Also playing in that game – Monterry third baseman Agustin Murillo, who played with the Osprey in 2003.

– The Cactus League finale – a 15-8 D-backs win over the Chicago Cubs – also featured former Osprey making appearances as the teams were in split-squad for the last time during Spring Training. Kyle Greene (2008), Bobby Stone (2008-09-10) and Roidany Aguila (2009-10), who drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, played in the win, while Vasquez pitched an inning of one-hit, two-strikeout relief.

– Former Osprey catcher Richie Rowland (2010) did not stay “retired” long. After ending his term with the D-backs, the son of former Major League backstop Rich Rowland has signed a contract to play with Traverse City of the Frontier League. Richie’s younger brother, Robby, will be in Extended Spring Training, for now, with the D-backs.

– One other former Osprey let out where they were headed within their social media circles on Wednesday. Third baseman Matt Helm is headed to South Bend, and will spend a lot of his time in the lineup at third base. Helm was forced to learn first base and the outfield in South Bend last season to make way for prospects Bobby Borchering and Matt Davidson, and moved back to third when he rejoined the Osprey. Helm, just in case you forgot, played with the Osprey in the 2009 postseason, and then joined the club for the second half of the 2010 campaign.

– One other note – official rosters for the minor-league affiliates will not be released until Saturday or Sunday. Once we have an idea, we will post the information here, and have a complete look at all of the former Osprey placed on full-season rosters in a story on Monday, which will be send to the local media and appear on the team’s website.

Roster decision time

There are a few days that we here at the Missoula Osprey office look forward to which take place before our season begins. One of those – or, actually, more like three of those days – would be around the First-Year Player Draft.

Another one of those days is shortly after, when the D-backs announce who will be coming to Missoula, and the following days when we relay those announcements.

The third time begins … now.

This is the time that Major League teams announce their 25-man Opening Day rosters, and the minor-league teams also inform all of us who is headed where this season.

Unless you know one of the minor-leaguers, or keep tabs of them through social media means, the announcement of the rosters are the first indication of the progress they are making through the spring, unless they end up playing in a game or 10 with the parent club during the spring.

But, on occasion, we do get some inside information that we can pass along … with that in mind, as promised in the comments section of a prior post, we at Bird Droppings have found these nuggets:

– Derek Eitel has long suspected that he would start the season in South Bend, but the 2010 former Osprey will begin the season in the SilverHawks bullpen. Patrick Schuster (2009-10) will also open the season in South Bend.

– Robby Rowland, also a member of the 2010 Osprey, will not be on a full-season roster to start the minor-league season. Instead, Rowland will stay in extended spring training.

There’s other items of suspicion, like that 2009 Osprey alum Bobby Borchering will start at Class A Advanced Visalia. The Arizona Republic penned a very interesting story on Borchering’s youth. We have to admit, we’re all a little jealous of his backyard field …

And the battle that former Osprey Emilio Bonifacio (2003) find himself in while trying to earn a roster spot with the Florida Marlins.

– Adam Eaton (2010) informed his friends on Facebook on Tuesday night that he will start the 2010 season in the Visalia outfield. Not a surprise, with Eaton making the most of his looks in games he appeared in with the D-backs in Cactus League action.

– Former Osprey catcher Wilkin Castillo (2004) will start the season in Georgia, just not the destination we were hoping for.

– It looks like former Osprey reliever Daniel Schlereth (2008) will be standing on the line at Yankee Stadium with his Detroit Tiger teammates on Thursday. The official announcement is expected to happen today, but it’s pretty apparent he’ll be in the bullpen for the Tigers this season, barring injury. Which, if you have followed the Tigers at all, seems to go with their bullpen.

– Back to the D-backs, as it is now apparent that the final spot on the 25-man roster is in the Mibullpen, with former Osprey pitcher Esmerling Vazquez (2004), who has put together a solid spring, in contention for the spot. Especially with former Osprey left-hander Jordan Norberto now at Triple-A.

This means the following former Osprey (pending official announcements) will likely be on Major League Opening Day Rosters:
– Miguel Montero, Arizona
– Gerardo Parra, Arizona
– Lyle Overbay, Pittsburgh
– Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
– Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado
– Jose Valverde, Detroit
– Daniel Schlereth, Detroit
– Sergio Santos, Chicago White Sox
– Tony Pena, Chicago White Sox
– Emilio Bonifacio, Florida
– Scott Hairston, NY Mets

Tomorrow, more roster news, and some updates on former Osprey who managed to get in some looks with the parent club in the last few days of Spring Training, as well as one former Osprey who will be back behind the plate soon enough – albeit in Michigan.

Was it you … were you among the two?

Countdowns – t-minus 86 days until the home opener, 84 days until the season opener, and about 80 days before the standard sweating begins in the Osprey Radio booth. Or is that 75? We forget …

By the way, we here at Bird Droppings salute the two people (or the one person who, on a whim, filled out two brackets, and did not change their Final Four) who picked all four of the Final Four teams in the ESPN Tournament Bracket Challenge. That was two out of 6,000,000-plus brackets.

…. as that sinks in, on with the nuggets ….

– While the official announcement is still a few days away, it’s looking like most of the 2010 starting rotation for the Osprey will be headed to South Bend to at least start the season.  South Bend SilverHawks radio broadcaster Owen Serey blogged about who could be headed that way recently. The official announcement isn’t expected to be until this weekend – South Bend has an exhibition game next Tuesday at Notre Dame.

– Opening Day is Thursday, and that means that Major League clubs will also be making decisions as to who will be on their 25-man rosters. Two of those decisions, which involved former Osprey, came down on Monday:

The Arizona Diamondbacks have optioned Jordan Norberto (2006 Osprey) to Triple-A Reno to begin the 2011 season. In nine appearances, Norberto collected one save in one opportunity and posted a 6.23 ERA, walking six batters in 8 2/3 innings pitched. Norberto slumped a bit toward the end of spring while trying to compete for a spot in the D-backs’ bullpen.

Also, the Pittsburgh Pirates have opted to option infielder Pedro Ciriaco (2005)  to Triple-A Indianapolis. Here’s one Pittsburgh writer’s take on the situation.

Good news about Clay Zavada, according to Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro. Which, of course, got us thinking about that ‘stache …

We could not resist adding a Clay Zavada tribute video we found on YouTube.

We’ll keep up with the latest both here and on the Official Home Page of the Missoula Osprey, www.missoulaosprey.com.

Changes …

You may have noticed that the Bird Droppings blog looks a little bit different today. That’s because they have changed the host where we put in the blog entries. We’re also getting a search crew to find the three blog entries we are missing from this week. Please be patient as we make the transition to our new nesting area.

Among the new additions – a poll feature. It’s one of a couple of new things you will be seeing on the blog.

Keep checking back for new items!

Sweet 16 … or Final 4?

T-minus 90 days to the home opener, 88 days until the 2011 Pioneer Baseball League season opens in Helena, and a matter of hours before a double-digit seed (or two) goes dancing from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight. Which means that either your bracket gets a much-needed shot in the arm, or it ends up headed to the shredder.

– From the sounds of things, Geoff Blum’s sore right knee could either be ready for Opening Day or for the operating table. The utility man’s absence from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup card has allowed former Osprey shortstop Chris Owings (2009) to gain some valuable experience in Major League camp. His defense has been solid, but the bat – he went 0-for-4 in Wednesday’s Cactus League game against Texas – has been slow to come around. Owings is only 2-for-25 in 14 spring games, with a single, double and four runs scored.

– Sometimes, it pays to be the elder statesmen. In fact, as Lyle Overbay (1999) begins his first season with the Pirates, it’s his experience which will be a key ingredient, as well as his bat and his glove, to Pittsburgh’s success this season.

– Back to the D-backs, where it looks like there could be as many as four positions left to be earned on the pitching staff. One of those – left-handed reliever – will come down to either veteran Mike Hampton or former Osprey Jordan Norberto (2006). Norberto’s big spring has some thinking he may earn a spot, but it was his winter that started the eye-opening process for people around baseball.

– Catcher Miguel Montero (2002-03) is preparing for a season where he will be the No. 1 guy behind the plate for the D-backs, but he is striving for some big things this season.

– Last but not least, while the Major League teams will be breaking camp soon, their minor-league counterparts will be spending a few more days playing games before they break camp. In fact, the Class A schedule will go through April 1. Class A South Bend will not play at home for a while still – Coveleski Stadium is going through a facelift, including the installation of a turf field. Their annual scrimmage with Notre Dame, for example, will be played on ND’s campus – a mere five-minute drive from the park. And that’s on a bad traffic day. They will open with a pair of road series before returning home to start their first homestand of 2011.

The aftermath

Usually, we kick off the blog entry for the day with some sort of tie-in for the day, but we came across a serious piece of news for today’s entry, so out of respect for that, we just get to the info.

– Former Osprey pitcher Tony Barnette (2006) is hoping to get his second season with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows underway soon. However, with Japan still reeling from the devistating earthquake and tsunami that hit earlier this month, the process to return to normalcy has been a long one. Barnette talks about the questions and shares his thoughts in his latest blog entry on Davis Sports Deli.

– Scott Hairston, who played for Missoula in 2001, entered New York Mets camp as a non-roster invitee, and without a contract. He’s leaving camp in a week or so, at the very least, under contract and on the 40-man roster. Hairston has hit .425 in Grapefruit League play, with nine runs scored, two home runs and seven RBIs.

– Former Osprey catcher John Hester (2006) has been outrighted to Triple-A Reno by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hester spent a good portion of the 2010 season between Reno and the D-backs, and served as Miguel Montero’s backup for much of the season.

– Here’s more on former Osprey outfielder Gerardo Parra’s impressive spring. It’s always been a prevailing thought that Parra, who has hit at every level he has played, would eventually hit at the Major League level as well.

Made us think of Parra’s first Major League at-bat, which was a home run, and this is as close as we could get to getting video of it. Doesn’t do the pitch location justice – which Reds’ pitcher Johnny Cueto had headed into the dirt of the left-handed batter’s box.

– Miguel Montero’s also beginning to feel it at the plate. The influence in having veteran Henry Blanco as a backup should help Montero (2002-03 Osprey) as he continues to grow into the role of being the D-backs No. 1 backstop.

One other quick item … we’re getting feedback in a few mediums right now on the blog, however, we want to encourage everyone to comment in here as well. Let us know you’re enjoying Bird Droppings, or what we need to do differently. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Also, Season Ticket Holders – don’t forget, the deadline to pay off your season tickets in full and receive a free popcorn and pop for each ticket purchased is March 31! If you have any questions, please contact the Missoula Osprey office at (406) 543-3300.

It’s Spring … Training

Your official Osprey countdowns – 93 days until Opening Night at home, 91 days until the season opener, and about 80-some days before the team arrives.

– A reminder for Season Ticket holders – you need to have your tickets paid for in full by March 31st to receive a voucher for a free popcorn and pop for each home game this season.

– Former Osprey slugger Paul Goldschmidt (2009) received a start on Sunday for the Arizona Diamondbacks back in big-league camp on Sunday, going 1-for-4 with a double. That moved his average to .429 in Cactus League play, with four doubles, a home run and seven RBIs in 14 games. Goldy and Adam Eaton (2010), who struck out in the ninth inning of the 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, will likely be regulars in the call-up-to-fill-out convoy from minor-league camp for the next week or so. Yup, the breaking of camp is coming soon …

– Speaking of Eaton, sports writer David Jablonski of the Springfield News Sun likes keeping up with the Kenton Ridge High grad, and pens another update on Eaton. Eaton – who is now 2-for-6 with a double and home run in Cactus League play, is more than likely headed to Class A Advanced Visalia, but there is some thought that if there is a need, he may be moved ahead to Double-A Mobile. Eaton has been working out with the Double-A minor-league camp, accoring to Jablonski’s story.

– You can add former Osprey second baseman David Nick (2009) to that convoy – he had an RBI triple that helped the D-backs put away the Oakland A’s in a split-squad game on Sunday, 4-2. Nick has doubled and tripled in four Cactus League at-bats this spring. Nick’s triple capped the ninth-inning uprising, which was started with a one-out double by fellow former Osprey infielder Chris Owings (2009).

– There’s also growing speculation that it could be one of two former Osprey – left-hander Jordan Norberto (2006) and right-hander Esmerling Vasquez (2004) – who could end up with one of the available spots in the D-backs’ bullpen. According to Nick Piecoro, both are possibilities.

– From the video category comes the former Osprey who may very well be the fastest former Osprey of the bunch – Emilio Bonifacio. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the Opening Day 2009 inside-the-park home run Bonifacio hit in his Florida Marlins’ debut.

It was the first such Opening Day home run since Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1968.

– Bonifacio has also taken a step in the utility direction, and is looking to earn a Major League roster spot by being versatile.

– It’s also beginning to look like the 31st Osprey to make his Major League debut last fall will make his first Opening Day roster at the Major League level as well. That would be former Osprey infielder Pedro Ciriaco, who is showing enough to all but lock up a spot on the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day roster.

Know where the Boss Button is …

It’s that time of the year, where productivity at workplaces all over the country will drop significantly (thanks NCAA March Madness), when more alcohol will flow in one town today than the average weekend (thanks, Butte, America, for one of the best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around), and when managers start grumbling with the beat reporters in both Arizona and Florida, like this example.

– Another Top Prospect list is out featuring 14 of the gems in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ system. It should be no surprise that eight of them are former Osprey.

– According to MLive.com blogger Steve Kornacki, it looks like Jose Valverde will not be the only former Osprey in the Detroit Tigers bullpen come opening day.

– If Daniel Schlereth wants to be in the Tigers ‘pen, he needs to stay away from days like these.

– Among the former Osprey players who were sent back down to minor-league camps on Monday were left-handed pitcher Greg Smith (2005 Osprey, Colorado) and right-handed pitcher Evan Scribner (2007, San Diego). Both are likely to start the season at Triple-A. Scribner’s option is his first since being added to the 40-man roster in November.

– While it’s doubtful that Wilkin Castillo (2004 Osprey) will make the Atlanta Braves’ Opening-Day roster, he is still making the most of what chances he is getting in Braves’ camp. In nine Grapefruit League games, Castillo has gone 3-for-9 with a pair of RBIs.

And, in case you were wondering, the “Boss Button” is on the top-right corner of your March Madness viewing window. Just remember that’s it’s not an active sheet, so you may want to open it once or twice to get an idea about it before you get quizzed on it.

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