Those of you in Chicago can catch a replay of the Sox-Royals game at 7PM (and 3AM) on CSN. Or you can just read these quick impressions.
John DanksDanks looked spectacular in the first inning Monday. He threw mostly fastballs, mixing in about 5 cutters and a single changeup. The changeup missed badly, but all of the fastballs and cutters were on or just off the corners. He froze Esteban German with an inside fastball after he had seen a variety of fastballs and cutters on the inside and outside of the plate. Then he struck out Mark Teahan on a backdoor cutter.
I couldn't really see any lateral movement on the cutter, but the difference between it and the fastball was quite evident both on the radar gun and the late movement. In the first inning, the cutter was reading 89-90 MPH and dropping at the plate while the fastball was reading 93-94 MPH and riding at the plate. Comcast's gun seemed fast in the first, and more accurate late as Danks fastball read 90-92 in the 2nd and 3rd.
Danks was less impressive in the 2nd and 3rd innings, as he went more to his changeup and his control waned. He did however, use the cutter to get himself out of trouble, inducing what could have been a DP in his first opportunity with men on.
Later in the game Danks was in the booth talking with DJ. Normally, I don't put much stock in these type of interviews, but Danks revealed two things that match what I've been saying all off-season. Number one, he said he wasn't tired at the end of the season, but he thought the book was out on him, that teams had adjusted to him. They knew he threw "about 90% fastballs" on first pitch, and they would look for a changeup with 2 strikes. The self-aware Danks then said that he would be more inclined to use the cutter in those situations this year, as he did in the 2nd and third innings.
Alexei RamirezRamirez' Chicago television debut was a mixed bag. He appears to be extremely aggressive on first pitch, but tries to adjust later in the count. He broke his bat in each of the first two at-bats, the first after laying off a few pitches low and away. He reached out for one well outside and broke his bat when he caught it off the end. In his third at-bat against a struggling Jorge De La Rosa, Ramirez swung from the heels on first pitch, then worked the count back in his favor before smoking a fastball for a bases clearing triple into the right center field gap.
In the field, it was a bit of a tough day for Ramirez. Billy Butler hit about a 10-hopper through the hole on a Jon Danks changeup. It looked like one of those balls that a very good SS can get, and Ramirez might have been able to stop it with a dive, but wasn't quick enough to get to it and plant to make a throw. When he did have a ball that he could field, his throw was low in the dirt, and I would rate the arm as below average, but passable for a shortstop. His arm strength is probably good enough to play anywhere on the field, but would be below average at SS and RF, and average in CF.
Ramirez dropped a routine pop-up behind 3rd base that had nothing to do with the sun or Arizona's "high sky." He also bobbled the exchange on a would-be double play, but it appeared to be a poor toss from Richar which caused him to try a complicated pirouette to try and make the play. It would have been a very slick play had he made it. I don't think either play really says anything about his defense, but are worth noting.
- Carlos Quentin, who has the reputation of being unable to lay off sliders from righties, swung through at least 5 changeups from lefties. He also smoked a De La Rosa fastball up the middle and turned it into a hustle double despite Joey Gathright's speed cutting the ball off in the alley.
- Jenks and Logan were fine despite the 4 runs allowed. They allowed about 1 hard hit ball between the two of them.
- MacDougal threw strikes, but got hit hard.
- Mark Gonzales notes that the Sox had scouts watching Noah Lowry walk 9 batters in just over an inning of work before getting pulled. That gives him 12 walks in under 3 innings pitched this spring, and hopefully eliminates him from the Crede trade rumors.