I Love Rehabers…So Put Another Dime in the Jukebox Baby?

Pedro Alvarez sporting the Independence Weekend uniforms

Having Major League rehabbers in town means one thing: awesome postgame spreads.  Well alright, it usually means some other things too, like a ringer in the middle of the lineup, some added expertise around the clubhouse and reunions of old friends.  And it also means killer postgame spreads…the rehabbers usually buy for the younger guys.  I guess it’s kind of like a rite of passage – ‘you don’t get to leave until you buy us food’ – or it’s just guys who have made it being nice to their hosts.  Yeah, it’s probably the latter.

The Marauders have actually faired very nicely with Major League rehab assignments over the last year and a half.  Pedro Alvarez is in town right now.  Chris Snyder launched his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President, I mean Florida State League MVP (sorry, it’s that time of year) back in April.  Joel Hanrahan has also shown his face.  Steve Pearce, Jose Ascanio and Joe Beimel have been around as well.  Heck, even minor league rehab guys like Donnie Veal and Brian Friday have played well with Bradenton.  They’ve also seen their fair share of opponent rehabs, facing the veritable pantheon of Joe Mauer, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, Kevin Slowey, Angel Pagan, Grant Balfour, Antonio Bastardo and so on.

On a side note, Derek Jeter (in the most highly anticipated rehab start of all-time…seriously has any semi-mildly injured player made more news in one week than Derek Jeter?) is playing against the Altoona Curve on rehab this weekend.  Much of the Curve roster is made up of former Marauders.

Anyway, back to the Marauders.  Having big leaguers around is fun for a couple of reasons.

1 – Food.  We’ve discussed this.

2 – They’re really, really good.  When you watch Pedro Alvarez take batting practice it’s just amazing.  Almost every ball is impacted with incredible force.  He drives stuff all over the field and most of the time it’s just brutalized.  I turned to pitching coach Mike Steele yesterday and asked how it’s possible for him to make such incredible contact every time.  The answer was simple: “He’s really talented.”  It’s fun most of all though to watch reactions, especially Jarek Cunningham.  Usually a character around the cage, Cunny’s jaw dropped every so often.  His regular screams of astonishment at other teammate’s hits just turned into silent stares for Alvarez.  UPDATE:  Cunningham was yelling sarcastic WOW’s again on Saturday.

Pedro alvarez has played all week on rehab for a quad injury

3 – They’re really, really good (Part II).  Sometimes rehab appearances aren’t statistically stellar.  Guys aren’t necessarily here to get outs or hit homers.  They’re here to test their elbow, or leg, or arm, or oblique.  They want to see live pitching again after having been on the side for an extended period of time.  Sure they may strike out or give up some runs, but for the most part, their goal is the be healthy.  So enter Alvarez and Joe Beimel, who started Friday on rehab.  Beimel’s stated goal was just to throw strikes.  He told me pregame strikes would make him happy.  It just so happen he threw a lot of them.  In one inning Beimel K’d two batters and none of the three to face him had a chance.  It was like a carnival game.  “Step right up and see the bearded lady!  This man will guess your weight exactly!  Three tickets to try to hit of the Major League pitcher!”  I remember back in the spring when Beimel was on his first rehab stint.  Phil Irwin called what Beimel threw “Invisiballs.”  That makes the whole see-ball-hit-ball mantra kind of difficult.  So yeah, even when all the guy wants to do it throw strikes, he still is pretty awesome.

4 – They’re really, really good (Part III).  I’ve never seen anybody take strikes in batting practice.  Well, check that.  I’ve only ever seen one person take strikes in batting practice.  Pedro Alvarez has that good a plan at the plate and he executes it.  Elevys Gonzalez noted that when he joined us on the pregame show Wednesday.  They guy is just selective, but not in a bad way, because when he gets his pitch he doesn’t miss it.  

5 – They’re fun.  You might think that Big Leaguers would, well be ‘Big League’ – that maybe they would just sit off in the corner and not want to be bothered.  It’s quite the contrary actually.  Alvarez has been just one of the guys.  His first day in town was a rainy Tuesday.  While the guys stood around in the clubhouse and waited out the pregame rain, Alvarez was right there with them tossing around a football.  At batting practice on Saturday he was the life of the party in group two, chiding Jarek Cunningham about hitting homeruns to the opposite field.  (The joke is that Jarek likes to pull the ball.  Pedro had hit an opposite field homerun on Friday and wanted Cunningham to follow suit in BP).  Cunningham didn’t go to the opposite field and then, when challenged back by Cunningham, neither did Pedro.  He did, though, launch a ball off the batter’s eye in center.  That will do I guess.

6 – The off the field stories.  If you’re a frequent listener to our broadcasts you might remember when Steve Pearce was in town rehabbing.  It was then that we discovered he and Quincy Latimore were bowling partners.  I know, right?  Then in Jupiter the Marauders played against a rehabbing Hanley Ramirez.  It was then we learned that Ramirez and Marauders catcher Carlos Paulino go way back.  It turns out Pauly and Hanley played, at different times, for the same manager in winter ball back home in the Dominican.  Through that connection Ramirez took Paulino under his wing as a younger Marlins farmhand (Carlos was acquired in a trade by the Pirates this year).  Before Paulino had an agent, it was Ramirez that supplied him with any needed equipment.  The Bradenton catcher recalled one time when Ramirez sent him 20 bats.  Paulino, only needing five, sent the rest back home to people in the DR.

Well with Pedro Alvarez in town he again unearthed a neat offbeat storyline.  See both Cunningham and Alvarez were in the Pirates 2008 draft class.  That means they turned pro together, went through their first instructional league together and have been linked a bit by that experience.  Turns out the two have a similar sense of fashion and have been shopping buddies in the past.  I figured I might be able to find the duo at Hollister, A+E, Abercrombie, etc, but Cunningham actually says Nordstrom is the regular haunt.  Really?  I was actually leaning toward Lord and Taylor.

With Alvarez’s assignment likely nearing a close in the close future, things will soon return to normal on the Marauders roster.  But with guys like Evan Meek and Ross Ohlendorf, Ryan Doumint etc still on the mend for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who knows what added flavor the Marauders future may hold.

Till next time…

Joel

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About Joel Godett
Joel Godett is in his secod year broadcasting Bradenton Marauders baseball. His career has carried him from Syracuse to Buffalo, Roanoke, Cape Cod, Tampa and Bradenton. He is originally from New Jersey and somehow grew up an Atlanta Braves fan.

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