I’ve been coming to spring training for 28 years now, and if I have learned one thing in that time, it is the realization that what happens in the desert or among the grapefruits in Florida may not translate once the games begin. Baseball history is littered with names of players that looked like sure-fire stars in March only to see their light burn out too quickly during the regular season.
Long-time baseball fans in Denver might remember the name Richie Scheinblum. He was MVP in the American Association in 1971 while playing for the Denver Bears, but had an otherwise undistinguished baseball career. Growing up in Cleveland, I remember Scheinblum as a can’t-miss who had some unbelievable spring trainings for the Indians. The numbers were so unbelievable in Tucson in March, 1969 that he broke camp as a regular in the outfield. Unfortunately, he went 0-35 to begin the season and never recovered. He would play pro ball through 1974, but he had only one season in the big leagues where he was an everyday player.
I bring that up because of the excitement over the start by Nolan Arenado. I get amused by people that make brief visits to spring training, or know little about the factors behind Nolan’s sometimes struggles last year in AA, and already they have installed Arenado at third base with nearly 4 weeks left to spring training. Nolan Arenado is going to be the regular Rockies third baseman sometime in the near future, but let’s not get too carried away with the early results here in the desert. Not yet 22, and with zero time at AAA, the need to make him “the guy at 3rd” right now needs to be tempered. If his level of play sustains throughout the spring, I believe the Rockies will make every consideration to bring Nolan to the big leagues. With the other players available to play third, however, it’s not an obligation immediately. Think back to 2009 Spring Training when the Rockies had a hotshot outfielder that played well in Tucson but was sent to AAA. His name: Carlos Gonzalez. By June, Cargo was in Denver and on his way to stardom. The “experts” need to exhibit the same patience with Nolan Arenado. One final note...last year’s Rookies of the Year, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, both started the season in the minors for just a touch more seasoning. That was pretty sound thinking in my opinion.
Today’s CHECK IT OUT: Twenty Years of B.B. King by Curtis Salgado. There’s just the right mix of R & B and straight blues in Salgado’s voice, and the lyrics are great.