It’s Only One

Last night was obviously not the the way the Naturals would have liked to start the 2009 season, but it’s still only one game.  Every team is going to have bad games throughout the season, but the key is not let those games linger.

5 errors and a rough outing from returning pitcher of the year Dan Cortes could rattle the team’s confidence a bit, but this team seems to realize that in baseball anything can happen on a daily basis and I would expect them to be ready to go again tonight.

Former major leaguer Anthony Lerew, coming back from Tommy John surgery, starts for NWA, while the Naturals hitters will have to face San Antonio’s Will Inman, who led the Texas League in strikeouts last season.

First pitch is 7:05 tonight.

Today’s the Day

It’s finally here!  Opening Day for the Naturals!

7:05 tonight from Wolff Municipal Stadium in San Antonio as the Naturals take on the Missions.  The game broadcast is available with yours truly on KURM 790 AM or on the internet by visiting nwanaturals.com

RH Dan Cortes, a postseason Texas League All-Star last year starts for NW Arkansas against RH Steve Faris for San Antonio.

Maybe Today

The April weather messed the baseball world yesterday, but hopefully things will be better today.  For one, the Royals and White Sox will try to open the season again this afternoon in Chicago.  Gil Meche gets the call for the Royals around 1:00 today in the Windy City.

The Naturals will try to get out on the field today as well.  The cold temperatures and wind yesterday limited them to playing catch and taking groundballs outside.  All other work was done in the batting tunnels next to the clubhouse.

At least the weather won’t be a concern when the team hits San Antonio to open the season.  The forecast for Texas League Opening Day on Thursday is a cool 90 degrees in the Alamo city.  Should feel like baseball weather right off the bat.

The boys will be on the bus all night tonight as they head South to get things started.  The Davis Report will check in from San Antonio and set the scene for the opener in S.A.

It’s scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch at Wolff Municipal Stadium.  The broadcast will be available on KURM 790 AM.

My Apologies but It’s Almost Here!

Sorry for the lack of blog updates this past week, but that we’ve been busy.  The Naturals office has been hopping this week as we prepare for the season.  Phones have been ringing, tickets have been selling and on my end, the radio broadcasts are almost ready to go.

As I type this, season ticket holders are at the ballpark right now picking up their tickets. (It’s not too late to get yours…visit nwanaturals.com or call 479-927-4900)  And the team is coming into town this weekend after breaking Spring camp in Surprise, AZ.

If you haven’t heard who is on the Naturals roster for this year, 11 players return from last season including Texas League post-season all-star Dan Cortes.  The details of the roster are in this press release.  This is still a preliminary roster and could have a change or two in the next few days depending on the trickle-down effect from the major league club’s roster moves.

The ’09 Naturals and 2nd year skipper Brian Poldberg will open a workout open to the public Monday night at 6:00.  Come check out the Naturals in their first official practice as a team.  See you at Arvest Ballpark Monday night!

Happy April Fools!

No jokes here, just serious work in the Naturals office as we get ready for baseball season.  It’s getting to “go time” as we call it with team due to arrive soon.  The season officially opens in 8 days with a game at San Antonio and then of course, the home opener is scheduled for Thursday April 16th at 6:00 p.m.  Arvest Ballpark is ready rock for year two of Naturals Baseball!

Some tickets are still available.  You can get yours by visiting nwanaturals.com, calling tickets.com at 877-444-2637 or by coming down to the Arvest Ballpark box office.

The next week will really get things in motion for the season.  Here’s a schedule of how things will go.

Players will arrive in town throughout the weekend, with some driving and some flying, their arrival times will vary.

Monday is the first official activity day as player will meet the media in the afternoon, then conduct a workout that night.  The workout will start around 6;00 p.m. and is open to the public at no cost.

The team will workout again on Tuesday before hitting the road for San Antonio.  The bus will leave at around midnight Tuesday for the long bus ride south.  Once in the Alamo city, the Naturals will workout again Wednesday at Wolff Stadium and then get a good night’s rest for the season opener Thursday.

With Spring Training wrapping up, there should be a roster to announce soon.  Competition for jobs has been intense this spring and there are a lot of tough decisions to be made still about team assignments and possible organizational cuts.

We will be back on the radio this season, with all 140 games airing on KURM 790 am with yours truly.  Some games will also be simulcast on 100.3 FM as well.

We’re proud to also announce an addition to the broadcasts for this season.  Ramsay Fulbright will serve an internship this season and will provide on air assistance with pre and post game work, color commentary and some play-by-play.  Ramsay is a student at the University of Arkansas in broadcast journalism and is the TV voice of the Razorback hockey team.  He will be on the broadcasts for most home games.

More additions to the radio team will be annouced soon, so stay tuned.

Vote for Rowdy

Rowdy Hardy is at it again.  The left-handed control specialist who spent 2008 in the Naturals rotation is of course, hard at work in Surprise, AZ getting ready for the 2009 season.  Hardy, thought by many to be part of the Naturals bullpen this year, is in need of your vote on minorleaguebaseball.com.

Rowdy is involved in the bracket-style Moniker Madness tournament to determine the best name in all of minor league baseball.  This is the 3rd year Hardy has been in the tourney, getting as far as the final four last year.  Currently, he’s in the round of 16 going up against Smelin Perez for the right to advance.

So head to the Moniker Madness bracket and vote for Natural Rowdy Hardy.

RHP Julio Pimentel who was with NW Arkansas last season has opted against surgery after suffering an elbow injury during a March 13th Spring Training game.  Pimentel, who was expected to return to NWA to start ’09, will rest and hope that the ligament damage and bone fracture will heal on its own. 

The earliest possible return date for Pimentel would be early May.

News and Notes from the Weekend

As we inch closer and closer to the season, things start to take shape for the Royals minor leaguers down in Surprise, AZ.  The Royals made more roster moves, reducing the number of players in Major League camp to 44.

Among those optioned to AAA Omaha were former Naturals RHP Devon Lowery and 2008 Texas League POY 1B Kila Ka’aihue.  This ends their chances at being on KC’s Opening Day roster and all but assures that they will break camp headed for Omaha.

Minor League Spring Training games are also taking place daily for the Royals prospects.  As with major league Spring Training games, these are to get players some game work and to get pitchers arms into shape for the season.

A point to keep in mind as well is that there are 4 minor league games going on each day so just because a player does or does not play in the Double-A on any particular day is not that big of a deal.  Players are often shuttled around to different fields and games during Spring Training so that different staff members can get a look at them.  Final determinations on a players’ destination to start the season does not have to be made until early April.

Also over the weekend, the Royals presented the Championship rings to the 2008 Midwest League Champion Burlington (IA) Bees.  The Bees were a young group that cruised through the playoffs going undefeated when it counted.  The Royals hope to keep the nucleus of this team together as they rise through the minor leagues.

Many of the key members of this team such as 3B Mike Moustakas, OF Adrian Ortiz, LHP Danny Duffy, RHP Alex Calderra and RHP Matt Mitchell may be targeted to arrive in Northwest Arkansas in the 2010 season.

Why Things Happen the Way They Do

This link might make your head spin, but it does a great job at explaining what factors go into determining why some players can stay with an organization by being sent to the minor leagues, and others can’t.

It comes from our good friends at the Kansas City Star.  It is often the things like options and guaranteed contracts that can keep a player in the minors or back in NW Arkansas for an extra amount of time.

Discuss amongst yourselves, and let me know if you have questions.

The 1st Major Injury

Many times, a lot of the shaking out for roster spots is dependent on who get injured and how severe the injuries are.  Well, the Naturals roster may have been altered by an injury announced over the weekend.

Julio Pimentel felt pain in his elbow and now an MRI has revealed ligament damage.  Pimentel is getting a second opinion to see if surgery is necessary but this is probably not a good sign for his chances of being in the Naturals starting rotation to begin the season.

He was one of 4 pitchers expected to return to the rotation this season along with Blake Wood, Blake Johnson and Dan Cortes.

Also listed as being hurt is reliever Henry Barrera, a highly thought of pitcher who was expected to begin the season with NWA.  Barrera has felt some pain in his elbow, and has not pitched in a game since March 1.

Canada’s Loss is Kansas City’s Gain

No, this post is not about Kansas City finally gained their much wanted hockey team to be the tenant for the downtown arena.

This is actually about the Royals being able to continue their 2nd base experiment.

With Canada’s (somewhat shocking) early exit from the WBC last night, Mark Teahen will return to Surprise, AZ to continue his quest to be KC’s starting 2nd baseman.

Early returns on Teahen were mixed, with folks saying he looked smooth and fluid in workouts, but then he made 2 errors in his first game.  Willie Bloomquist has played well defensively in Teahen’s absence, and Alberto Callaspo remains solid at the plate.

The next couple weeks will be key for the Teahen experiment as his ability to take gain hold of that position will determine many of the backup roles on the club as well.

Eventually, the shakedown of backups and the bullpen for the big league club will eventually create a trickle down effect that will at least in part influence the Naturals opening roster.