Filed under: Wood Baseball Bats
Good morning, or afternoon depending on where you are when you read this,
A Spider Roll, Spicy Salmon and Hawaii 5-0 Roll for dinner always works for me!
Last night ended our 6 day 5 game road trip with stops in Burlington, Iowa and Peoria, Illinois. We arrived in Peoria on Friday afternoon because of the rain out at Burlington, so we got an evening off. We checked in at the Quality Inn, and Shepherd and I went to our room to check to the internet connection, our PlayStation and of course find all of the ESPN channels. It was the middle of the afternoon, and we were all relatively hungry so we ran back down to the lobby and got on the bus with a few other guys and headed over to a place around the corner for sushi. The bus drove us (Brian Adams, Walker Weickel and I) through the rain to Sushigawa, a small joint in a little strip plaza. When we tried to go get a table we realized the place was closed, the sign out front reading “Closed 2-5:30 Daily.” We not only had a major let down in terms of what we would eat for lunch, but the bus had already left us, meaning we’d have to walk somewhere in the rain. I gave Walker a real hard time about the place being closed because he had found it on his phone, and therefore he had to take the fall. I think more of the heckling came from the fact that I was trying to ignore the fact that I was getting soaked walking around in the rain. We ended up eating at Chipotle, a Minor League favorite before Adams and I walked back to the hotel. We used our new favorite social media outlet, Vine, to document the trip. (Walking in the rain) When we got back, I scheduled the hotel shuttle to take us back to Sushigawa for dinner at 7. Shepherd and I passed the couple hours (he never left the hotel room) playing NHL13 as usual and then I headed back out. Dinner was good, but not like the sushi places I normally go back home, when Dad and I GO TO TOWN at Matsu back home.
Fireworks over left field at O’Brien Field
The first game of our series at Peoria we faced Kurt Heyer, a friend of mine from summer ball my sophomore year summer in Cape Cod. Kurt and I played together in Orleans, and worked together at the Orleans Firebirds Kids Baseball Clinic. Kurt was part of last year’s University of Arizona National Championship team. He’s a righty with good stuff, and an incredible ability to make hitters uncomfortable. I found that out in a hurry, striking out looking on three straight pitches without even getting settled into the batters box. We were shut down all night, and then got sent to a 38 minute rain delay. When we came out of the delay Dane Phillips hit a ball over the fence in left field, but it somehow bounced back into left field and the umpires ruled it a double. That lead to Jose’s first ejection of the year. We lost the game, and continued to struggle having good at bats all game. After the game the Chiefs hosted a fireworks display which I caught the end of.
Game two was an afternoon game on Sunday that had a true Sunday “Getaway Day” feel to it as it only took 1:47 minutes to complete. We lost 1-0 in a frustrating game. We had very few base runners, and just couldn’t break through. I had a hit, and played SS again for the second time in three starts. The opposing pitcher threw just 97 pitches en route to a complete game shutout. We once again were forced to fight to salvage a game in our final day of the trip, something we haven’t been good at this year. Again we were a little snake bitten in the final game, having hits that lead to no runs, bloop hits against us that lead to long innings and another loss. We lost 4-1, and I think only 1 of their runs was actually scored on a hard hit ball. The rest were grounders or broken bat doinkers that just found the ground. We were swept out of town, and sent packing with a disappointing 2-3 record on the trip.
Our bus ride home was a long overnight trip, across a timezone and we got in around4:30 am. We rushed home and went to sleep, again I moved my mattress into the closet and slept in the dark, waking up around 11. We went for lunch at a sushi place (yes, again) that Brian Adams recommended. Adams, Dane, Baltz, Walker, Fried, Shepherd and I drove across town to Koto and had some really good food, made better by the good company. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the guys away from the ballpark and just get to relax. Tonight we’re having a barbeque and will throw some steaks, potatoes and corn on our new grill. I’m sure they’ll go great with whichever hockey game is on tv tonight!
Go Leafs Go (yes, I’m finishing all my posts with that until they’re eliminated!)
Filed under: Wood Baseball Bats
I first have to apologize for the fact that I haven’t posted in a while, I was under the impression that I was able to post to two places at once, and have my personal blog and the Viper Bats one done at the same time. I found out last night that this isn’t the case, so I do apologize for the lack of updates I didn’t realize it was not working. That being said, I’ll just drop you guys into my latest post, because it would be a nightmare for you to read, and for me to write about the weeks since my last post. I had a solid first month of the season hitting .329 with 11 RBI’s and our team played well enough to finish above .500 for the month. So here we go, back to the blog posts
We left home on Wednesday morning just after 6am to head out on our six game, two city road trip. I made sure to drop my personal stuff off on the bus before packing my baseball bag, and getting breakfast to make sure I got my own seats. I made sure to put my fully packed snack bag on one chair and my bag with my clothes on the other, then ran downstairs to throw my baseball stuff together. I packed, and did my usual double check to make sure I didn’t forget anything. Max and I then jumped in my car and drove to McDonalds to get some breakfast, and I ended up bringing back an order for Baltz and Carmon also.
When we pulled out of Parkview Field I immediately threw myself on the floor of the bus to go back to sleep. I always bring my pillow on the trips so it’s actually pretty comfortable. I tried to fall asleep, but couldn’t help but hear the movie that was playing over the bus televisions. I popped my head up and asked someone, “this is Skyfall right?” I was right, I recognized the sound of the opening scene somehow and so I jumped back up into my seat to watch because there is no better way to start a morning than a 6:30 am showing of James Bond. I watched as he saved the day, and then struggled to stay awake the rest of the ride. We pulled into The PZAZZ hotel and resort just after lunch, and walked through the many lobbies past the casino, spa, arcade and indoor water park before going upstairs to our rooms. Me and Shepherd played a quick game of NHL13, and I finally broke my 17 game losing streak in a 3-2 victory by the London Knights over the Kitchener Rangers.
We headed over to the ballpark before the first bus, to take a look around at the stadium we’d be playing in for the next three days. I walked with Shepherd, Eflin and John Hussey, an Australian pitcher who recently rejoined the Padres organization after being out of baseball for a couple years. We snapped some pictures, and walked around wondering aloud how anyone could possibly play in the old stadium that plays host to the Angels affiliate. We realized just how spoiled we are to have a world class facility like we do in Fort Wayne. The stadium was extremely small, with bleachers about 20 rows high between the two dugouts. There was no upper deck, no suites, no video board, no radar gun display, no padded benches, and certainly no advertisements in the dugouts. It was the truest “Minor League” field we’d experienced so far this season, it was really just a field with a grandstand, consisting mostly of metal bench seating. We headed into the clubhouse, which had no air conditioning and got ready for either early work or conditioning and then headed out to our respective jobs. I took some rounds of front toss with Burkie in the cage, which was surprisingly spacious and a good work space.
The game was a bit of a mess, we scored, then gave up runs. They scored, then gave up runs. We made an error and they returned the favor. It ended with us coming away with an ugly win in the first of our three game series. At one point I counted exactly 68 people watching the game, it was a morbid atmosphere. There is no worse way to play a game than in front of a tiny crowd in a dark blustery field. By the time the 8th inning rolled around we encountered what I called the “Iowapocalypse” a combination of freezing cold 85 mph winds and a stadium that made an eerie ghost noise. It was BRUTAL.
Our next game was at 11:30 am the next morning, so we were at the ballpark at just after 8:30. We ate peanut butter sandwiches in the clubhouse, and traded complaints about how miserable it was to wake up early for a game. We walked out to the field after cage work for batting practice and realized it was kids day. Seven or eight local schools brought school buses full of screaming kids and the place was pretty well filled up. We joked about how a full house at Community Field wouldn’t fill a single section at our place, and again we were pretty snobbish about it. We managed another win and survived kids day with very little annoyance. We headed back to the hotel around 2 and had an entire afternoon to waste. We ate lunch at the Boogaloo Cafe in the hotel and then headed to the arcade for the afternoon. We played Skee-Ball, basketball, went on the Go-Karts, and played 4 on 4 Lazer Tag. We killed about two hours then went back to our rooms and played NHL again before dinner.
I went to sleep early last night because we had a 9 am lift in the morning. I woke up, and headed to the bus. We went to the local YMCA and did a quick lift, I did a bunch of TRX stuff, some light leg stuff and then core. We packed up and headed back to the hotel for some breakfast. Walker and I went to the buffet together and had some steak and eggs, a favorite of mine. Our trainer Ricky came and told us that the game tonight was cancelled and that we’d leave early for Peoria. So here we are, driving through a pretty hard rain en route to Illinois.
Filed under: Wood Baseball Bats
The first couple weeks out here in Clinton have been nothing short of a whirlwind. When we first arrived out here we practiced for one day and left the next morning for a 7 game road trip to face the Burlington Bees (Angels) and Kane County Cougars (Cubs). In the second game vs Burlington I was part of a back to back to back home run sequence in the top half of the first inning. I hit the 3rd homerun in the sequence and that is actually the 2nd time in my professional career I have hit the 3rd home run of a back to back to back sequence. It happened last year in the Northwest League vs the Spokane Indians when Mike Zunino, Taylor Ard and myself did it.
Once we returned home from that road trip is when all the craziness began. Not only did we have baseball to worry about but we also had to find a place to live and going through the process of finding an apartment and signing the lease and getting settled in. One of the reasons it has taken me so long to finally update you guys on the season is that we finally got internet and cable yesterday.
We played the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Twins) on our opening day series and the first two games of that series were cancelled due to rain. We played 2 7-inning double headers the next two days. This would become the norm the next week as the rains poured down on us and caused 2 games at Quad Cities (Astros) to get cancelled and 2 more vs Wisconsin( Brewers). We had to make up all these games with 7 inning double headers. As of today we have played more 7 inning games than 9 inning games.
As a team it is tough with these circumstances to get on a hot streak because we never knew if we would be playing that day. It seems as if the rain has finally come and gone which is good and hopefully the cold weather will be on its way out soon also and we can get some warmer weather and play some games on an every night basis.
We finish up a home series against the Beloit Snappers (A’s) this Tuesday then it is off on a road trip to play the Lake County Captains (Indians) and Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres). Ill do another post when we return from road trip and let you guys know how it went.
Filed under: Wood Baseball Bats
The last two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, between the end of spring training and the start of the regular season there are too many things for a person to actually process at one time. I’ve written this post from notes that I wrote myself either in my phone or on my Ipod because quiet frankly as the stories unfolded they changed, and changed again and then finally became something solid. That being said, bare with me if some of this seems like disjointed mambo-jambo.
As Spring Training drew to its final week we were reassigned to our likely Opening Day rosters. We began to play as a unit that would eventually fly north together, to get a feel for each other on the diamond. Our team got a huge boost when Scooter (Stephen Carmon, from my Eugene team last summer) was taken off the rehab roster and given the go ahead to participate in full. Scooter and I developed very solid chemistry last season, and turned a lot of big double plays as the season wound down. I was really excited to have him back because knowing my SS’s tendencies becomes a major issue when a giant first baseman is barreling down on me as I try to turn two. We started talking half jokingly that we were going to try and break the league record for double plays turned. I say half jokingly because he is very sarcastic in his nature, and we’re both very confident in each other up the middle.
Then there were the last minute cuts, which obviously were a major bummer. Again, the last four days had proven to be a similar series of highs and lows. Guys we were pulling for to make our team going both ways, some making the team and others being reassigned to Extended Spring Training. We saw Ronnie Richardson who lead us on so many huge comebacks last summer slide off our roster, but he handled it like a true professional and I have no doubt that he’ll be up here soon doing his patented walk off home run trot.
As this whole juggling act went on we began to form groups of players that would eventually become roommates once we arrived. I originally was going to live with Dane Phillips, Brian Adams and Scooter, but when Baltz got moved back to our team from the Lake Elsinore roster he had been playing with all spring that changed. Rosters then began to dictate living arrangements. Matt Shepherd and I agreed to live together, and had talked to Matt Chabot from our Eugene team about joining us. When he was reassigned the plan changed again and we chose to get an apartment with Walker Weickel and Max Fried. We had all discussed rooming together earlier in the spring, and somehow had come full circle and were now agreeing upon being roommates.
The last day of Spring Training we played a morning game against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch and we got no hit. The game seemed to be totally secondary as everyone seemed to be more focused on our flights north the next morning. We showered back at the complex and then emptied our lockers. The garbage cans were overflowing with half empty bags of sunflower seeds, empty cans of dip, old cleats, batting gloves and broken bats that had managed to stick around for locker room games. I went to sleep at 8:30 because we were scheduled to leave the hotel at 2:30 am for our 5 am flight. We flew in typical Minor League fashion hopping between cities on connecting flights from Phoenix to Houston to Chicago and finally Fort Wayne.
We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and were told that the ballpark/clubhouse would be closed. As soon as Shepherd and I dropped off our bags we headed to the ballpark to walk around and take in our new home. To say the ballpark blew us away is the understatement of the century. Walking up to the center field gate we immediately were able to see our new stadium’s most notable feature. In right field there is a parking garage beyond the outfield seating and built onto the side of the building is the scoreboard and a seating area called “The Treetops.” We each pulled out our cameras and began snapping pictures of everything. I wish I knew how to post a bunch of pictures in an album because I have about 30 that really show every part of the ballpark, from its intricate angles in the outfield, to the seating bowl and everything in between. We eventually made our way down to the dugout where we met up with Mallex, and Joe Ross. Right as we were about to leave our trainer Ricky showed up to drop his stuff off in the “closed” clubhouse. We followed him into the clubhouse knowing it would be open for him and so we piled into the labyrinth beneath the stadium. We got our first glimpse of the locker room, weight room, players lounge and training room. We met AJ, who is our clubhouse manager and got to discuss the important things like jersey numbers and pant sizes. We immediately got a good vibe from AJ who was quickly joking around with Joe picking up on stories from last year when Joe made his debut here. I picked a locker that would give me optimal access to one of the TV’s on the wall of the locker room. I avoided corner lockers, because as I found out last year they always become overcrowded. We threw some of our stuff that we had shipped to Fort Wayne into our lockers and then went back to the hotel for dinner. Our next few days consisted of practices, media day and an autograph session which were all a lot of fun. We got to do those tv introductions that the big league guys always do staring into the camera and giving our best “Hi I’m ____ and this is Fort Wayne Tincaps baseball on Xfinity!” We goofed around like we always do when any of us is in front of a camera. Before we knew it we were packed and on the road for our first trip of the year.
Opening Day was in Michigan at the home of the Great Lakes Loons, the Class A affiliate of the Dodgers. We played a four game series in freezing cold weather which included wind, rain and even a little bit of snow. We took the first three games, including one awesome 9th inning comeback in which we went from down 2-0 to winning 6-2 in what seemed like a matter of 30 seconds. The final game was a bad one, we didn’t hit, pitch or defend the way we are clearly capable and we got thumped pretty bad. The highlight of the series for me was having my Dad there to finally get to see me play in a professional uniform. When I signed, I immediately went to Arizona and then off to Oregon for the summer so I had never been anywhere close enough for him to make the trip. It was really cool for me to be able to leave him tickets at Will Call (even though I totally forgot the 2nd time to rewrite the pass list) and to have him see me play. It was interesting that just 5 years earlier we had stumbled across the exact stadium en route to a recruiting visit at Central Michigan University. Baseball has a funny way of writing stories that all end up tying together. This was a pretty special one for me, and I am incredibly thankful that he was able to come down for the weekend. Hopefully, next time the weather won’t be so awful and there might be a better crowd to have a little atmosphere.
We’re currently in Grand Rapids, Michigan finishing up this 7 game road trip tomorrow night with another game against the West Michigan Whitecaps (Class A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers). We will then hop back on the bus and head home to Fort Wayne where we open up our home schedule Thursday night at Parkview Field. I put a reminder in my phone to write every third day starting Friday when I’ll recap our trip home and our Home Opener! Until then, its back to waiting out the rain here in Grand Rapids, as our middle game has been washed out for the day. Back at it tomorrow, Go Tincaps!
Filed under: Wood Baseball Bats
Just checking in to let everybody know spring training went well and I will be starting the year in the mid-west league for the Clinton Lumberkings. We have a lot of good players and should be a fun and entertaining year. We open the season vs the Burlington Bees and then travel to play the Kane County Cougars. I’ll be keeping you guys updated weekly now that the season is getting underway. Have a great night and let’s play ball!
Filed under: Wood Baseball Bats
Hope everyone is having a good day and is ready for the start of baseball season. I’m currently out here in Peoria, Arizona participating in the Mariners mini-camp program. I arrived on February 15th and the camp runs until March 1. We then will have a couple days to recover and get ready for the start of Minor League Spring Training. The coaches have given each player here a couple things to work on and improve during the camp. They’ve been helping me a ton so far and i am excited for the start of Spring Training. They also have us on a strict throwing program and fielding program to prepare us. I will be posting weekly to keep everybody updated on how spring training is going and how i am preparing myself for the start of the season. I currently am working on getting some pictures of myself swinging my new Viper 244′s. I will also be posting things about Vipor on twitter. I’ve already put up a picture of my shipments of bats. You can follow me @PatrickKivlehan if you want. Hope to hear from some of you soon. I’ll update you guys sometime next week. Have a good day everybody
Filed under: Wood Baseball Bats
Hey everyone, It’s finally that time of year again, baseball is back! Well, sort of. Pitchers and catchers have begun to report for all of our MLB teams marks the beginning of a long standing tradition, Spring Training. 2013 will be my first Spring Training, so I am extremely excited to get down to Peoria and get this season underway!
Hopefully this post will sort of tie up all the loose ends that are the off season and get everybody as excited for Spring Training as I am. I’ve spent the winter splitting time between my desk job at Splash (see previous post) and my off season baseball job of hitting, throwing and working out. Throughout the process my trainer “Boots” has done all sorts of testing so we are able to establish how I’m progressing toward my goals. Today was the biggest day for me, as we finally re-tested my sprints, the area of my game that absolutely needed the most work. We are only able to run 30 yards at the Baseball Zone where I’ve been working out, maxing out the space by pulling all the batting cages out of the way. When I started to work with Boots in November I ran my 40 in 4.11 seconds. Today, I ran the same sprint in 3.88! I may not be the fastest guy in camp, but I am incredibly proud of the hard work I’ve put in in the last few months to get my times down. Like I said in my post about off season workouts, there is nothing better than competing with yourself and trying to better your scores and times. I know now that all of the hours I put in not only at the Baseball Zone, but at home stretching, foam rolling etc have paid off in a tangible way. It all adds up to 0.23 seconds!
I’ve been feeling great lately in the cage, my swing is starting to really feel like its ready to go. In the last week I’ve been able to stand in against some pitchers throwing bullpens, something I find incredibly helpful in getting my timing and my eye back. Last Thursday I stood in and saw 30 pitch bullpens from my college teammate turned Chicago Cub Jas Rakkar, and two guys who I’ve become friends with over the off season, Jamie Richmond (Royals) and John Marriotti (Team Italy, WBC). Over the weekend I was back practicing with my former high school elite team and was able to stand in against a whole bunch of 18U pitchers, both left and right handed. Tomorrow will be a big day for me as I’m going to actually take live batting practice swings off Jas, Jamie and John.
In wrapping up my off season I decided to FINALLY break out a new bat. Since I received my order of Vipers last fall at Instructional League (September 12, 2012)
I have used 1 bat exclusively, every single day. Exactly 5 months have passed, 153 days of which I probably hit on 140. I finally managed to chip the barrel, nothing serious enough that it won’t continue to be my BP bat, but enough to know it was time to break out a new one. So, here it is, my fresh out of the plastic wrap M-320 maple.
Now we can all go back to counting down the days until Opening Day. Keep working hard, keep swinging and let’s play some ball!