The Oakland A’s starter Ken Waldichuk pitched 4.1 against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium in Surprise AZ on Thu Mar 16, 2023 (file photo by si.com)
Oakland. 000 000 000. 0
Kansas City. 000 020 00x. 2
WP: Ryan Weiss
SV: Jacob Wallace
LP: Ken Waldichuk
Thu, March 16, 2023
By Lewis Rubman
SURPRISE, AZ–Don’t let the line score that appears above this report fool you. You’re not reading an account of this afternoon’s action at Surprise Stadium. These lines are the jottings of a tired 82 year old fan who’s just watched and reported on nine games in five days, with half a day (i.e., one game) off to thaw out a frozen computer.
The action on the field at Surprise was a spring training exhibition game between teams representing Kansas City and Oakland, two cities well acquainted with the heartbreak of franchise loss.
The Athletics’ imminent departure lent an added tinge of unreality to the experience inherent in any spring training game, and the tinge was heightened by my having just covered the World Baseball Classic, where callow young minor leaguers, over the hill 4-A players, big league journeymen, and superstars compete, representing countries and regions to which they often have the most tenuous of connections.
But any brand of baseball has a charm of its own , especially in a small ballpark on a warm desert afternoon after five days spent in the cavernous confines of Chase Field in the heart of downtown Phoenix, a city where you can see convenient store clerks with pistols strapped in their holsters selling cheap beers to scruffy down and outers. It’s also a pity where you can experience kindliness and friendliness from people of all walks of life.
That’s enough about the context of our afternoon in Surprise.
Reviewing my emails last night, I learned that the A’s have trimmed their roster to 41, cutting a couple of players we saw perform quite well in the WBC, Adrián Martínez and Jordán Díaz.
The first thing I learned about spring training in Arizona is that you can stop and chat with Dave Stewart in the parking lot. Then I learned that a small stadium can be difficult to navigate
After the first pitch was thrown, I learned that
- The Curse of the Ground Rule Double still is in effect. Slick fielding Nick Allen led off the game with a two bagger, stole second, and, in spite of walks to Ramón Laureano and Brent Rooker, was stranded there.
- Catcher Kyle McCann has a pretty good arm. He cut down an attempted steal by Edward Oliver’s in the second.
- However prepared you might think you are for the torrent of in game substitutions that is the bane of every baseball sportscaster, you’re not going to be able to get all those changes right on your score sheet.
- They give the media a pretty decent free lunch at Surprise Stadium.
- The attendance at this Cactus League exercise was higher than that at many MLB games in Oakland. 6,098 fans enjoyed themselves in the clean, sunny, and warm surroundings.
- As my wife noted, it’s remarkable how green the grass can be on a baseball field in the desert.
- It’s not often that you see someone pinch run for Ramón Laureano, but it happened in Surprise in the top of the seventh. Greg Deichmann was the replacement, and he beat out an infield single two innings later.
That’s all, folks. ’til April.