Results tagged ‘ Arkansas Travelers ’

With the Travelers – Day One

Travs third baseman Freddy Sandoval signs autographs for Little Leaguers before Thursday’s game.

I got up around 3 AM California time on Thursday to take a decent stab at arriving on time for Thursday night’s Travs game against Wichita. The odds didn’t look too good, as I had only a 40-minute layover at O’Hare and I doubted my camera gear would make it.

Leaving Orange County (where the airport is named after a dead Western actor known locally for his many drunk driving detentions, but that’s another story), the flight took off 45 minutes late, but thanks to strong tailwinds we arrived on-time in Chicago. Rushing to the commuter plane gate, it turned out the connecting flight was running an hour late, so plenty of time for the gear to transfer.

An hour late into Little Rock, I went straight to Dickey-Stephens Park, knowing nothing about it other than the rave reviews and some generic directions. Going over the Arkansas River, I saw the Clinton Library off to the right (hopefully I’ll get there today) and then turned left on Broadway (although the sign said to turn right). I saw the ballpark lights and headed in that general direction.

And there it was.


To park, you go past the ballpark and through the intersection, then turn into the main lot. You actually walk under the neighboring bridge over the river, with a clearance of about six feet.

Behind the right field fence is a riverboat docked at the bank. During the first inning, it kept tooting its horn and playing calliope music, beyond the control of annoyed players, umpires, fans and no doubt Travs management.

Dickey-Stephens Park was designed with a railroad station look. To reach the clubhouses, the players exit near the right field foul pole and walk up an access ramp. A bridge designed like a trestle spans the ramp for fans to walk overhead.

The park is still a work-in-progress in a few places. A Travs Hall of Fame isn’t ready, although you can see a lot of impressive memorabilia inside the door.

The gift shop is impressive, although when you walk in the door the caps on the shelf facing the door are Yankees caps. Go figure. This is a Cardinals market, so you see just as much Redbirds memorabilia as Angels stuff. Perhaps the biggest insult to my Halo sensitivities was a Rally Monkey wearing a Cardinals jersey.

On the field, both the Travs and Wichita showed a lack of savvy running the bases, but in the end the Travs won 3-2 when Sean Rodriguez singled in the winning run. I’ll have video on-line later today, hopefully.

The wireless connection here in the motel is flaky; right now, I’m in a conference room using a network cable plugged into the wall.

Chris Hunter arrived from Rancho just as I checked into the hotel tonight. The local paper reported this morning that Travs reliever Kevin Lynch has retired, and Chris was sent here to replace him.

UPDATE June 8, 2007 2:00 PM PDTClick Here to watch Sean Rodriguez drive home the winning run in last night’s game.

Nick Adenhart Update

Nick Adenhart at Rancho Cucamonga in 2006.

In a May 28 post, I noted that Nick Adenhart’s ERA in the 1st inning was 7.20 and wrote, "Clearly first-inning jitters are part of the problem, although I suspect most of it has to do with (1) being a 20-year old in Double-A, and (2) mechanical issues. Stuff that fools younger and inexperienced hitters will be ignored by players with more experience, and some of them (such as teammate Curtis Pride) have major league experience."

I got backup in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from Travs beat writer Todd Traub who wrote in his Texas League Report:

It looked like Arkansas Travelers right-hander Nick Adenhart was fated to suffer another sub-par outing when he gave up Chase Headley’s two-run home run in the first inning of Sunday’s game against San Antonio at Dickey-Stephens Park.

Adenhart was fresh off his worst start on May 22 when he was rocked for seven runs in the third inning against Corpus Christi as the Travs blew an 8-0 lead to lose 15-11.

But this time, Adenhart righted himself to pitch 7 2/3 strong innings, and the Travs rallied to tie, then won it thanks to catcher Bobby Wilson’s eighth-inning home run.

Adenhart arrived in North Little Rock as the Los Angeles Angels’ No. 2 prospect overall (Baseball America) and the organization’s top pitching prospect. He rolled to a 3-0 start before he began to struggle – as when he gave up three first inning runs and got no decision against Springfield on May 16 – and blamed his problems on not adjusting as the Texas League hitters began to figure him out.

“The way I was going early I was kind of falling into a pattern of having a lot of success and doing the same things,” said Adenhart, 3-2 entering Friday. “And then, once those same things weren’t working … or I wasn’t able to repeat [them] how I wanted to, I had to try to make an adjustment and pitch with not my best stuff.”

“I think he just kind of ran into a stretch of bad luck there,” Catcher Bobby Wilson said. “I think he was trying to carry too much of a load on his back. Instead of just pitching his game and his stuff being good enough it was ‘Oh, I can’t give up any runs,’ because offensively we’ve been struggling.”

Sure enough, in last night’s start at San Antonio, Adenhart struggled again in the first inning. Here’s what the Democrat-Gazette reported:

Nick Adenhart won for the first time since April 19 as the Arkansas Travelers beat the San Antonio Missions 3-2 on Saturday at Nelson W. Wolff Stadium, giving the Travs their first winning streak in more than a month.

Adenhart (4-2) had a rocky start, allowing two runs in the first, but he held the Missions scoreless over the next four as Arkansas won two in a row for the first time since April 26-27. The Travs beat the Missions 3-1 on Friday and ended a three game losing streak.

Chris Bootcheck went through the same thing is his minor league career. It happens to a lot of pitchers. It’s just growing pains, nothing more.

I lean hard on the sabermetric community because too many of them make blanket statements about numbers without bothering to learn the context. Clearly the context here is that Adenhart is a 20-year old in an advanced league facing older hitters who adjust to his stuff. He’s not a "bust," he’s not "abused," and he’s not "overrated." But he is an outstanding pitching prospect who’s learning to adjust as hitters adjust to him.

On the Road Again

Just cashed in my frequent flyer mileage so I can go to Arkansas.  I’m flying in on June 7 and leaving June 12, so airline willing I’ll see five games — two against Wichita (Royals affiliate) and three against Springfield (Cardinals affiliate).

Will Nick Adenhart still be there, or will he be in Salt Lake?  My guess is it’s 50/50.

I’m taking a risk, because in 2002 when I flew American Airlines to Little Rock they lost my camera lens and it didn’t show up until the last day of the shoot.  This time, because of the limitations with the frequent flyer mileage I have 40 minutes to transfer between flights at O’Hare.  So you’d think with five games, even if I miss the first game I’ll still have four more.

I’m really looking forward to seeing Springfield, given all the past history between the Travs and the Cardinals.

And of course, the new Dickey-Stephens Park.  Hopefully I can film enough footage to do an on-line mini-documentary similar to what I did with Ray Winder Field in 2003.

As mentioned earlier, I’ll be in Cedar Rapids May 12-15 to cover the Kernels. Two games at Clinton, then two games at The Vet.

(Oh, my poor bank account …)