Baserunning 101: practicing the walkoff homer.
Third base coach Dave Clark is as nice and pleasant of a fellow that you’ll meet, which makes it even more entertaining to watch him when he’s in full-blown coaching mode during Spring Training.
Clark, who in his former life was first a Golden Gloves boxer and then a big league outfielder, has a little drill sergeant in him as he oversees certain areas of morning workouts. Whether it’s pitchers practicing sliding or position players running the bases, there’s never any confusion when “Clarkie” relays what he wants to see during this or that particular exercise.
Baserunning drills might not seem terribly exciting this time of year, but they are when you considering the different scenarios they practice: base hits that are bobbled by the opposing outfielders, doubles to the gaps, triples, scoring on a sacrifice fly and on.
Clark barks out the scenario, and the players fall in line on the basepaths, adhering to the orders. At the end of one particular session that I watched (and recorded), Clark had some fun at the end, telling the players to practice the “walkoff homer” trot:
Notes from camp:
Just as soon as Brad Mills announced who will start Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener on Saturday, he announced a scratch. Carlos Lee will not play, due to a mild right hamstring strain that he’s been fighting for a few days. Instead, Brett Wallace will start at first base.
Lee went through quite a few sprinting drills with head athletic trainer Nate Lucero toward the end of Friday’s workout, so I would venture to guess the hammy strain indeed is not terribly serious. Teams will err on the side of caution this time of year.
The other starters for Saturday’s game are as follows (order to be announced later): Livan Hernandez P; Jason Castro C; Jose Altuve 2b; Chris Johnson, 3b; Jed Lowrie SS; J.B. Shuck LF; Jason Bourgeois CF; Travis Buck RF; Jack Cust, DH.
(Most National League teams will utilize the DH until the middle of the month. Pitchers usually don’t start hitting in games until the final 10 days to two weeks of exhibition games.)