Scottsdale, Arizona- Hello from Salt River Fields, the official spring training home of the Colorado Rockies. We are just 12 days away from Opening Night at Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford on April 5th. The Yard Goats begin the season by hosting the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, as part of a 7-game opening homestand.
TALKING BATTING… WITH YARD GOATS HITTING COACH LEE STEVENS
The Yard Goats will have a Major League experienced coach on the staff this season as Hitting Coach Lee Stevens is getting ready for his first season in Hartford. Stevens is really excited about this opportunity to work with some of the biggest prospects in the Rockies system. "Camp has been great, guys are working hard and things are going smooth and everyone is jumping at the bit to get up there," said Stevens. "There are some really good players down here and the front office is going to have to make some real difficult decisions in the next week." Stevens, a former first round pick of the Angels, played eight years in the Major Leagues with California, Texas, Montreal and Cleveland. He blasted 144 career home runs.
Stevens likes what he sees in spring training with the Yard Goats club. "It was a good sign when I had five or six guys in big league camp and they are now with our workout group. We are going to have a really good lineup and the expectations are going to be high." Lee looks forward to helping develop the future stars for the Colorado Rockies in Hartford this season. "These guys are just a phone call away from the big leagues and I'm not trying to get them ready for Triple-A but I'm trying to get them ready for the big leagues so when they get that call they are going to be prepared and ready to play at that level."
Stevens Philosophy on hitting…
I'm not a real mechanical guy, I'm big on a guy's posture but you've got to hit what the pitcher gets you. Not every ball thrown to you is a drivable ball that you can hit out of the ballpark. My goal is to have the guys go up there and compete. You have one job to do with the bat in your hand and that is swing. Be ready, compete, and pitchers at that level are taught to throw strikes so whenever they throw a strike let the pitcher know you are standing up there.
NEW RULES in MiLB for 2018… EXTRA INNINGS, MOUND VISITS, PITCH CLOCK
Yard Goats Manager Warren Schaeffer will be working with a few new rule changes this season. As part of the Pace of Play Regulations this season, all Minor League Baseball extra-inning games will begin with runners at second base. (the runner at second base will be the player in the batting order position previous to the leadoff batter of the inning (or a substitute for that player). In addition, teams at the Doubles-A level will only be allowed 8 mound visits per team (a mound visit is considered any visit from coach, catcher or position player). This is something that clubs are going to have to adjust to because many times you will see infielders come to mound to settle down a pitcher or to let him catch his breath. The other new rule change for this season is that Pitchers at the Triple-A and Double-A levels will be allowed 15 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position when
no runners are on base. With runners on base, the pitch timer will go from 15 to 20 seconds. The timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber, the catcher is in the catcher's box and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.
YARD GOATS AND DUNKIN' DONUTS PARK HAVE GREAT REPUTATION OUT WEST
It was so wonderful to hear how many people complemented the Yard Goats successful first season in Hartford. From the players in the Rockies clubhouse that played at Dunkin' Donuts Park to the players that played the entire 2016 season on the road and are now in the Major Leagues, everyone took notice. You fans made such a memorable impression on the future stars of the Rockies and now it's time to do it again!
Thanks for reading and hope to see you at Dunkin' Donuts Park on April 5th and many more times throughout the summer.
-The Voice of the Yard Goats
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.