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Greetings from Tempe, Arizona

Mar 6, 2012, 7:36 AM EDT

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I’d have a nice picture of an Arizona sunrise here for you, but as I am typing this it is 5AM local time and it’s still dark. Stupid body, thinking it’s still on Eastern Standard Time.  I’m guessing the sun will be up soon anyway. It’s the desert. The sun tends to shine here.

I got in to Phoenix late yesterday, somehow resisted the urge to immediately go to In-N-Out Burger, to get a gigantic plate of Mexican food or a Sonoran hot dog. I may fall off the wagon later this week, but I’m at least attempting to be healthy for now.  Of course given that the hotel gave me a smoking room for some reason and my lungs and nasal passages are already burning with the rich tobacco flavor of the furnishings of my room, I probably shouldn’t get too hung up on health. Heck, I should probably go buy a pack of smokes and just go with it, right? Then it’s settled.

Enough of that. I’m here for baseball.  And a little later this morning I’ll be heading to the other side of Tempe, to Tempe Diablo Stadium, spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Which makes them the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Tempe for the next month or so. Stuff I hope to figure out:

  • How the big splashes this offseason by Jerry DiPoto are fitting in. You know, guys like LaTroy Hawkins and Chris Iannetta.  Wait, what? Why are you looking at me like that?
  • How good Kendrys Morales looks. I know he’s supposed to be good to go this year, but one of the most striking things of last spring was seeing Morales barley be able to walk around, all the while the team’s official position on him was that he was doing OK.  That changed pretty quickly after the games started. I’m sure he’s fine now — it’s been a year — but I do want to see the difference.
  • I also would like to anger all of my analytical friends and delve into the world of intangibles and mood-analysis and see if there’s a different feel around Angels camp this year. Last year there was a sense that the Angels were in for a dreary season. They overperformed spring expectations, but in early March it seemed a little quiet and almost dour at Tempe Diablo. Will things seem more upbeat, both among players and fans and the overall zeitgeist now that they have Pujols and Wilson and buckets and buckets of hope?  My normal left-brained self is not ashamed to admit that I care about such things.

Finally, it looks like I’m going to get a chance to interview Torii Hunter for NBC SportsTalk tonight.  If you have anything you’re dying to know from the man, leave it in the comments. And don’t worry: I already plan on asking him what kind of tree he’d be if, in fact, he were a tree.  This isn’t my first trip around the block with this Media Professional thing, you know.

I’ll check in with you from Angels camp later this morning.

  1. Gonzo - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:06 AM

    Why is it spelled Torii?

    • cur68 - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      And who decided that would be a good name for a baby boy?

  2. paperlions - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    For a second there I thought we were going to hear that the Angels’ new name was the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Tempe (gotta broaden that fan base).

  3. Jonny 5 - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    I’d like to know what type of headway the Torii Hunter project has made with enabling inner city youth to have better access to baseball.

    • El Bravo - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      Yeah that.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      Great question Jonny. Craig: Please ask the question Jonny posed.
      Personally…I would like to hear Torii’s thoughts on the difference in the sound of the ball off Pujol’s bat compared to everyone else in the cage(s).

  4. proudlycanadian - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    I want to hear about Vernon Wells. I understand that he revamped his swing in the off season. He said that he got too pull happy in Toronto and it hurt his performance in a different stadium.

    • cur68 - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      And has he got turf hoof yet.

  5. The Baseball Idiot - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Considering designed with the Angels over Kansas City for a paycheck, ask him how it feels know he isn’t good enough to make the Royal outfield?

    • proudlycanadian - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:50 AM

      Edit function?

      • paperlions - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        Coffee function.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:49 AM

        I did it at lunch on my phone.

        Small buttons, fat fingers, and predictive text makes The Idiot stupid.

  6. stex52 - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    If Wells does come around they will have quite a back-up in that outfield. Well, I guess that’s a good problem to have if you get it. My personal feeling is that, while the Rangers are a talented team, they had better tighten up the seat belts for this year.

    And the Astros had better have made some serious progress by 2013 or they will really take a drubbing.

  7. randygnyc - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:02 AM

    Ask Tori, “are you sorry yet, for leaving Minnesota? Big fish, small pond. You know Tori, you could have been legendary there. Here, not so much.”

    Oh, and Tori, most certainly will be in hindsight, a weeping willow.

    • ezthinking - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Then Mauer or Morneau would have been there.

    • ezthinking - Mar 6, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      Then Mauer or Morneau would have not been there.

    • nategearhart - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      Really? I can very, very easily picture why someone would rather be in LA (making more money) than (what would have been a Mauer-free) Minnesota.

  8. aleskel - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    hey, ask Torii if he remembers the time he flipped the bird to the section I was sitting in (Yankee Stadium, RF bleachers) during the 2004 ALDS.

  9. goldstar4robotboy - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    I’ll see you in Tempe, Craig. Can’t give details, but I’m part of the first-pitch festivities.

  10. phukyouk - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    Can you find out if he know, FOR A FACT, how many licks it takes to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop

    • koufaxmitzvah - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:27 AM

      Science has already determined that it takes 3 licks to get to the center of tootsie pop.

      • phukyouk - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        nope! that was an Owl not Science. and he bit it. that damn cheating Owl

  11. koufaxmitzvah - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Listen, I’m no Scientologist, but I can tell you, for a fact, that it takes one, two, (crack) three licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop.

  12. azvikefan - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    Craig, while you are in Tempe and want great food, go to El Pollo Supremo on University rd and Ash. It’s a dive looking place but has the best mexican chicken in the entire civilized world. I’ve been going there for 25 years now and still my favorite food.

    • spindervish - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      What the hell is Mexican chicken?

      • cur68 - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:11 PM

        I’ve tried this one:

        http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/mexican-style-chicken-with-penne

        You can change it up with a lemon juice marinade for the chicken over night and/or leave out the corn & go with pinto beans/kidney beans. I don’t know if El Pollo Supremo does this version, but Mexican style chicken is not to be taken lightly.

  13. foreverchipper10 - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Ask him if he could play better defense with an assist from Christoper Lloyd.

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