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Mehring in Arizona: Day one

1:14 AM EDT
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We were always looking for true north
With our heads in the clouds, just a little off course
I left the motor running, now if you're feeling down and out
Come on baby drive, come on baby drive south.

The morning started out with a quick trip into the office at the ballpark.  I felt I needed a baseline on the amount of snow that was on the field because the first thing anyone is going to ask me when I got to Arizona was going to be, "How much snow?"  I am still trying to come up with a snappy answer.  Doubt if I'll get one.

The Timber Rattlers twitter account - @TimberRattlers - picked up a new follower before I left.  @JimmyNelson40 is probably going to be one of the people asking "How much snow?"
Take this as a good sign for the 2011 season.  Angie Ceranski, a fellow member of the Timber Rattlers front office, was going to spring training in Florida on Thursday and our flights were leaving at almost the same time.  We got up to the TSA guard at the start of the line and he saw Angie's Timber Rattlers logo on her jacket.  "We went to a game a couple years ago.  We all sat out in the outfield and had a great time.  We're going again this year."  No 'pat down' jokes on Saturday, June 11, please.

It's a 20 minute flight to Milwaukee and I looked out the left side of the airplane just in time to see Miller Park...and not a lot of snow on the ground.

Oddly there was no internet available to make the time pass more quickly in the Mitchell International gate area.  But, the layover was not that long.  The flight to Arizona was the way that I like the flights that I take to be...uneventful.  Before I knew it, I was in Arizona. Temperature, 75 degrees.

No problem getting a cab to the car rental place.  No problem picking up the car at the car rental place.  I do happen to be driving a Mitsubishi Gallant that is the brightest red I have ever seen.  By the way, Mitsubishi should have come up with another model called the Goofus.  Or not.

No problem finding the hotel either...until I pulled into the parking lot.  I was blinded by the sun as I was facing west and trying to find a parking spot.  Suddenly, I saw a figure dart out in front of me.  I slammed on the brakes.  The figure began walking towards me on the passenger side of the car.  As the figure stepped out of the setting sun, I recognized...Pitching Coach Chris Hook.  Yep, almost hit him and the season hasn't even started.

We talked a bit and he asked me if I was working the Rising Stars game.  I will be working as a dugout reporter for the Sports 32 broadcast on Time Warner Cable.  Hook told me that he was going to be Matt Erickson's pitching coach for that game.

Lo and behold, while I was in transit today, the Brewers went and announced the rosters for the Rising Stars Game at Miller Park on April 2.

Take a look at the team Matt Erickson has to work with for that game:

- Scooter Gennett, 2009 16th Round Draft Pick, Midwest League midseason and postseason All-Star team, Fourth-best organizational prospect according to Baseball America
- Caleb Gindl, Florida State League midseason and postseason All-Star in 2009
- Taylor Green, 2007 Brewers Minor League Player of the Year
- Cody Hawn, 2010 Sixth Round Draft Pick and 2010 Pioneer League All-Star
- Erik Komatsu, 2010 Brewers Minor League Player of the Year
- Martin Maldonado named best defensive catcher in the organization according to
Baseball America
- Wily Peralta, Third-best organizational prospect according to
Baseball America
- Austin Ross, Member of Louisiana State University's 2009 National Championship team
- Tyler Thornburg, Sixth-best organizational prospect according to
Baseball America, third-round selection in the 2010 First Year Player Draft

I count five former Rattlers and three probable Rattlers for 2011.  There are six former Rattlers listed for Don Money's team in that same game.  Go! Buy Tickets! $10! NOW!  NOW!!

Panic set in when I unpacked my computer and could not find the power chord.  Relief set in when I found the power cord in a pocket of the computer bag that I didn't put it during the whole offseason.

I fear that I will have the panic/relief feeling a few times over the next few days.  Especially with the way my cell phone charger is kind of working and kind of not.  I knew I should have upgraded to the Smart Phone I had my eyes on before I left on this trip.

It didn't take long for the panic to set in again.  I walked out the door of my hotel room and as soon as it closed behind me, I knew.  I locked myself out.  What the heck?  I've been in town two hours and THAT happens?  It usually takes me until the middle of some eight-game road trip in August to do that.

The evening was wrapped up over at a local restaurant called the Native New Yorker to watch the Badgers take on Butler.  Or to try to watch the Badgers take on Butler.  Arizona was playing Duke at the same time.  The Wildcat fans in the bar were having a blast.  I was not.  Heck, I couldn't even enjoy Duke losing.

Tomorrow will be my first day at camp.  The team hits the practice fields at 9am Arizona time.  That would be 11am back in Wisconsin.  I will get some pictures and a few thoughts together for this column and for Rattler Radio.  At 1pm, the Matt Erickson's possible Rattlers take on the Dayton Dragons of Delino DeShields.  You can bet that there will be pictures, news, and notes on that game for the blog and for this column from that game.

If you would like to see real time updates on the game against the Dragons, head over to @CMehring on twitter.  I'll do my best.