Can you believe that this coming Thursday, there's a spring training game? IT'S HAPPENING, PEOPLE!!!!
More importantly to me, the next day, Friday, there's a spring training game for which the Eyeball Scout will be in attendance. Down early this year for the games March 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th, the Eyeball Scout has already scored one bonanza with the announcement that Sean Manaea will start Friday's home game.
I don't expect Manaea to be throwing 95MPH but I do hope to get a sense of how/whether the ball "gets on the hitter in a hurry," something that does not always relate to pure velocity. The last pitcher whose gift in this area stood out to me at first blush was Rich Harden, whose fastball appeared to skip the "middle part" and go straight from his hand to the plate.
I am also optimistic that I will see Franklin Barreto, whom the A's seem keen on getting a good look at early in the spring before rosters are trimmed. This is one of the benefits of going early in March: I will gladly trade "Sonny Gray getting his 2 innings in" for Manaea, and would prefer to get a look at Barreto than a look at Jed Lowrie.
Other notables on whom the Eyeball Scout is on the prowl include Dillon Overton (velocity?), Matt Olson (length of swing, COF defense?), Rangel Ravelo (pure hitter?), and Chad Pinder (2B/SS/3B defense?). Over the course of 4 early Cactus League games, the Eyeball Scout is confident that he will have much to report on, chocolate martini hangover be damned. ("Olssson's s-swings were long...Tha'wus only one s-swing? You don' s-say.")
Separately, I hope to wrangle a couple interviews from my day in the clubhouse and have begun to ponder who might make for the best targets this time around. I'm curious who you might recommend or wish to hear from and would welcome feedback in the comments. I've never talked to the entertaining Stephen Vogt, am curious about shiny-new-toy Khris Davis, and have been intrigued by Manaea ever since I realized I could talk to him and then talk to him Samoa. Who would you like to hear from and on what topics?
Toothbrush...razor blade (in case I have to watch Billy Butler hit), clean socks, fresh underwear (I'm pretty sure the pair I have on will expire by Friday), shampoo, ginormous cassette tape recorder, shaving cream (in case we score a tie-breaking run in the bottom of the 9th), cap, eyeballs...BRING IT ON!!!!