Notes from ChiSox vs. Mariners:
Brandon McCarthy struggled with his control once again. After three batters, he had already given up 2 runs on a double and a homerun. Not surprisingly, he threw only three pitches other than fastballs to the first three Mariners. His change up is clearly his best pitch, but like his fastball he was having trouble locating it.
As he went deeper in the game, McCarthy started to get a better feel for his pitches. He was grabbing strikes consistently with his fastball, and locating his change-up down in the zone. Unlike the other Sox starters this spring, he actually appeared to be getting stronger as the game went on, throwing his first good curveball of the spring in the 4th inning.
Ryan Sweeney is a man possessed. After hitting just one HR in almost 500 ABs in Birmingham, he has 3 already in just 15 at-bats in Tucson. The newfound power display was not what surprised me most, however. No, it was Sweeney's presence at the plate that made a lasting impression on me.
I've often wondered about his rather pedestrian walk rate. I've even asked a scout who often sees the Barons if Sweeney was "up there hacking at everything, but has great contact skills." He assured me that Sweeney wasn't just hacking, but could stand to work the count a little bit more. Today, I saw a confident Sweeney who was taking close pitches. It didn't surprise me when he hit his 3rd HR of the spring. He had already worked one walk, and was sitting with a 2-0 count when Scott Atchison hung a slider.
Owens swipes second
Jerry Owens' first at-bat was just as impressive. He quickly fell behind 0-2, but fouled off a few pitches before eventually drawing the walk. After Ross Gload failed to get him over, Owens stole second on the first pitch to Jim Thome, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Thome would drive him home with a ground out to second.
Thome also had himself a day. He was 1-3 with a triple -- yes, a triple -- and two walks. Thome's triple would have easily been a HR at USCF. It was a towering shot to straigt away CF that Jeremy Reed expected to get out. Thome got to third because Reed got too close to the wall and the ball ricocheted back over his head.
Robert Valido and Josh Fields also had good days at the plate, although Valido left a number of runners on base, and Fields did his damage against a AA pitcher.