• Charlie Greene

Spring Training Report 3

Hello Bisons Booster Club members, family and friends, This is your Booster Club First Vice-President reporting from the Holiday Inn in Dunedin, Florida, after spending 30 minutes trying to access the hotel wifi system. TRIVIA QUESTIONS: 1.  What former Bison is a coach for the Blue Jays? 2. How many home runs did George Springer hit in a single World Series? Answers below. WEATHER REPORT: The start of today's game was delayed 10 minutes for the Field Opening Ceremonies.  The temperature when the game started at 1:20 PM was 77 degrees under mostly cloudy skies with a 15 mph wind blowing sometimes from right to left, but mostly straight in from right field.  We were sitting in the top row on the left field side half way between home plate and third base with an open area behind us which meant that we have warm wind-blown faces not only from the steady wind, but also from the much higher gusts which frequently came right at us. SPORT PAGE: The Blue Jays opened their spring training home game schedule with a first inning that lasted 47 minutes with both teams scoring 3 runs.  The Jays scored again in the 3rd inning and held on to win the game 4-3 increasing their Grapefruit League record to 2 wins and 1 tie. For the Blue Jays: Bo Bichette SS went 1 for 3 with a single and scored the Jays first run. Reuben Tejada replaced Bichette at SS in the 6th inning and went 0 for 2 with a strikeout and a fly out. Cavan Biggio 2B hit a double and scored in the first inning and then grounded out and struck out. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. started in LF, struck out twice and flew out to right field. Forrest Wall replaced Gurriel in the 6th inning and flew out to center field in his only plate appearance. Vladimir Guerrero started as the DH, walked, stole a base, scored once, grounded out once and was thrown out at home plate after being waved in by the third base coach even though there was no way Vlad could have beaten the ball to the catcher. Randal Grichuk started in CF, doubled, walked twice and scored a run. Anthony Alford replaced Grichuk after he walked in the fifth inning and later struck out in his only trip to the plate. Teoscar Hernandez started in right field, walked, singled and flew out to center field. Billy McKinney replaced Hernandez in the 6th inning and flew out to left field in his only at bat. Danny Jansen was the starting catcher and walked twice. Andy Burns played the last three innings at 3B, popped up to the catcher and struck out. Patrick Kivlehan started at 1B, flew out to left field, singled to right field and was caught stealing 2-4. On the mound: Shun Yamaguchi started, but lasted only 2/3 of an inning and was charged with 3 runs. Conor Fisk struck out the only batter he faced. Travis Bergen allowed 2 singles and struck out a batter in the second inning. Ty Tice pitched the 8th inning striking out one and getting 2 fly outs to right field. For the Braves: Ben Rowen pitched the 8th inning allowing a double and striking out 1 batter. Attendance: 6,335, the largest attendance ever to be at a game in Dunedin. Former Bisons in other games today: For the White Sox: Edwin Encarnacion DH went 0 for 2. For the Brewers: Eric Sogard 3B was 1 for 3. For the Rockies: Daniel Murphy 1B in 2 at bats had 2 hits, drove in 2 runs and scored a run. For the Cubs: Ryan Tepera was charged with 2 earned runs with a walk and 2 strikeouts in one inning. For the Marlins: Jon Berti 2B went 0 for 2, IN OTHER NEWS: The Blue Jays have done a marvelous job upgrading the stadium in Dunedin.  The outside newly painted in Blue Jays blue and white is much more inviting.  The concourse has been widened with several more food service areas, a single larger gift shop and a large open park-like area for eating.  Seats have been added along the left field line increasing the capacity significantly behind which is a large bar.  All seats lift up, a much needed improvement and high screens protect fans from home plate out to the end of the seating sections near the left and right field poles.  There is a walkway around the outfield so walkers can circle the whole stadium.  A new scoreboard features videos, color presentations,  lineups and game information.  Both teams now have bullpens with the Jays still behind right field and the visiting team behind left field.  The screen behind left field is higher than elsewhere to help protect the children playing in the school yard behind the outfield.  A pavilion has been added to the school play area to help protect students from massive home run balls that might make it over the fence. When the Mets opened their updated stadium on Saturday everyone received a commemorative towel marking the date and a Mets season magnet schedule.  The Blue Jays were more glassy.  Everyone received a commemorative ticket enclosed in a heavy clear plastic container.  The start of the game was delayed for an introduction of folks from Dunedin and Blue Jays staff who then cut a ceremonial ribbon to formerly open the "new" stadium. The dimensions of the playing field remain 328 to both poles and 400 feet to deep center field. Ace, the Blue Jays mascot is in town for the start of the spring training season. As we were starting to eat our lunch in the stadium, we saw former Bisons and current Jays play-by-play announcer Ben Wagner.  He and his wife now live in Dunedin and go to Toronto only during the baseball season. After the game ended, I had a chance to shout "Hello from Buffalo" to former Bison and current Braves relief pitcher Ben Rowen who still throws his submarine ball.  He did not have time to talk because he had spent several minutes talking with Bison Andy Burns and now had to run to make the Braves bus back to Venice, Florida, the new Braves spring training home which is 88 miles south of Dunedin.  With the Braves no longer at Disney, there is no Major League team doing spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports stadium on the Disney campus. The Blue Jays sell a 60 page all-glossy program for $5.00.  It contains a club directory, welcomes to Dunedin from the Jays and the Mayor of Dunedin, a 2019 Blue Jays recap, a 2019 minor league system recap, 3 pages of prospects to watch, a feature story about Jordan Romano, the 40-man roster and coaching staff, 19 pages of photos and biographies of players on the 40-man roster, a center-fold scorecard, a feature article about Patrick Murphy, a 2-page story about Jacob Waguespack, the Jays 2020 schedule and a photo stadium directory.  At the Guest Relations/Fan Services desk, all fans can pick up a free line-up sheet with the starting line-ups and number list of all reserves available to play in the game. Parking across the street from the stadium costs $20.00. TRIVIA ANSWERS: 1.  Former Bison Mark Budzinski continues to serve as the Blue Jays first base coach this season. 2. George Springer hit five home runs as he led the Houston Astros to a seven-game World Series win in 2017 and was named the Series Most Valuable Player.  (Of course, now his achievement is questioned because of the knowledge that Houston stole pitching signs during the series.) BACK PAGE: On Tuesday, my wife and I are back at TD Stadium for a Blue Jays game against the Yankees. Charlie Greene, First Vice-President Buffalo Bisons Booster Club

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