It’s been a while …

by Ben Catley

Yeah, I know, it has been a few days since there has been a blog post. All of my energies have gone toward getting ready for what is truly my Opening Day – which is Media Day. Which was a day earlier than I had planned it to be. So … yeah … I have been a little distracted.

There has been a lot going on … the record book is done enough, the player bios are set, and we have a team in town … baseball is almost here. I want to say that I am expecting to use the “off on a 360-foot trot” phrase often this season, but I will wait on that.

I am also expecting that we may have more news about the 2011 Osprey. Any day now.

When it comes to the roster, this is a time of ebb-and-flow. What the roster looks like today may not be the same thing tomorrow. Especially since (1) the Osprey only have 28 players and (2) can have up to 35 on a roster. That means there are two active slots still open, so there will be some additional Osprey joining the nest shortly.

As I will tend to do during the season … I will shed some light on certain things, make some notes and share some thoughts on certain things. So ….

1. The rotation is set. For now. Robby Rowland, as we called back in March, is the Opening Day starter. Enrique Burgos will go in Game 2 of the series at Helena on Tuesday. The Opening Night starter at Ogren Park Allegiance Field will be right-hander Jesse Darrah, while fellow Golden State Athletic Conference pitcher, left-handed pitcher Taylor Siemens, gets the ball on Thursday. Friday’s starter for the opener of a three-game set at Great Falls will be tall right-hander Dexter Price, followed by Rowland and Burgos. Which, by the way, makes Burgos your starter on the first Fireworks Night of the season, July 1.

2. If you like home runs, or at least hard-hit balls to the gap, today’s BP showed a couple of things. Or should I say, a lot of things. We will see how that translates to live pitching, but it was revealing today in the rain.

3. Westley Moss may become a potent .300 hitter here. With his speed, he has a chance to do some special stuff. He doesn’t have a lot of pop, but he reminds me a bit of Ollie Linton, who was good enough to make the Southern League All-Star game. Guess I am going to have to work on my stolen base calls, eh?

4. Eric Groff, Ty Linton, Enrique Burgos, Robby Rowland, Fidel Pena … five guys who are a LOT more relaxed and confident this season. Of this bunch, Linton has made the biggest 180-degree turn from a wound-up top to one who has been spinning so much, the tip isn’t as sharp as it used to be. Which, in my experience with tops, is a good thing. But you see in their eyes they are all ready to make a big step forward. Of the Extended guys, these five may be the best placements that the D-backs make, in my opinion. Which means a great thing for Osprey Nation!

In the words of fictitious manager Lou Brown … “My kind of team Charlie … my kind of team!”

I do have one concern, though. While we should be strong defensively – Josh Parr may be the most solid shortstop we have seen defensively here, at least since I have been here – the infield needs work. We did not see the outfield, thanks to the rain that was present throughout the practice, so that will be interesting.

However, that’s where having manager Hector De La Cruz will be a huge asset. Having Hector as the manager here is like having a roving infield instructor that loves the Pioneer League so much, he doesn’t leave. Or having your own infield specialist on staff at all times. Hector just has a way of being able to see your weaknesses, the knack to be able to teach you how to fix them, and turn them into strengths instead.

For proof – watch Eric Groff play second base, which, I feel, is the infield position of major depth, both offensively and defensively. He moves so much more smoothly at second base (remember, he had played third base in high school and college, and was a convert to second base during the 2010 season), it looks natural. And, it also looks like he is catching up to the speed of the game.

And I give Hector De La Cruz a lot of the credit for helping make Groff into a second baseman. He worked Groff hard, putting in a lot of extra work, and combine the work and the will … well, it’s showing now. Because, of course, you have to have the “Want-to”, and it’s apparent that Groff – who ended the season at Triple-A Reno in 2010 – had the want-to.

OK – enough ramblings for now. Tomorrow is a new day, and the final workout before the season opens in Helena on Monday.

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