My lines on my wheelhouse are as blurry as Vladimir Guerrero’s, with a similar level of comfort in the chaos. I’m usually not in my zone unless I’m doing three things at once.
But last week, in a country whose name is loosely translated as “rich in springs,” or “land of wood and water,” or Land of Rolando Roomes (and Devon White, and Chili Davis, and . . . Justin Masterson?), the number of things I wanted to juggle at any given time was exactly zero, with occasional flashes of one.
Virtually off the grid, I left the TV off and the newspapers to others, checking in only occasionally with Twitter to keep surface tabs on Flight MH370, on a couple go-to takes on the “True Detective” finale, and on the latest developments in the Cowboys’ systematic program of robbing Peter to owe Paul and grease the skids on the team’s steady course of embraced mediocrity. There was very little in the way of electronic means — unless you count my introduction to Anton Chigurh via e-reader — and I’m pretty sure in five days I gave back everything I’d gained over the preceding 21-day cleanse, but hey, it’s easier to rationalize forfeiting a draft pick to sign Shin-Soo Choo when you know you’ll get one back for Nelson Cruz.
I’m a big proponent of the stabilizing effects of extended nothingness (nap status: lost count), even if I seek it out so rarely that it’s practically as much of a bucket list box to check off as a two-hour zipline canopy tour. I’m rejuvenated, so stinkin’ ready now for the 162 that we’re just two weeks from, and that was true before Lewis Brinson (can he be the next Devo?) doubled on the first big league spring training pitch he ever saw Saturday afternoon, two minutes after which Nick Williams (the next Chili?) homered in his first-ever big league spring training at-bat, two innings after which Williams maintained his perfect 5.000 OPS by going deep yet again, tying the video-game score but more importantly, on the second bomb, displaying that elite bat speed and barrel control as he rifled a pitch low and in over the right field fence with the pop time of a Jorge Alfaro throw to second.
Nick Williams is going to be special, but temper your enthusiasm for now, because he’s not going to help Texas in 2014.
Unless he helps make Giancarlo Stanton a Ranger.
It was a meaningless final third of a meaningless exhibition game, and two Williams blasts should carry no more weight than Joey Gallo’s five strikeouts in six trips in the same game, but then again this is the time of the spring training schedule when you see things like Nelson Cruz getting a start in center field for the first time since his current Orioles manager shifted the rookie to center for the final two innings of a blowout Rangers win over Oakland on August 9, 2006, and we latch onto moments like Williams’s — and left-handed reliever Rafael Perez’s bases-loaded faceoffs with lefties Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick in the second inning Saturday, and Ronald Guzman’s Williams impersonation Sunday, going deep in his own first-ever big league exhibition at-bat late in that game — as the novelty of camp wears off and the imminence of the regular season still feels not imminent enough. Overreactions in mid-March are sort of unavoidable.
The way you feel about what Michael Choice continues to do in Arizona, seemingly every day if not every at-bat and every defensive chance, is not an overreaction. He’s the story of camp at this point.
The positive one, at least.
The negative ones have zero to do with wins and losses and slash lines and almost everything to do with health, but even the red lights on those are starting to turn yellow in several cases, even as rival clubs’ pitchers take a number to visit Dr. James Andrews.
And yeah, since his first full season I’ve had less confidence in Neftali Feliz than most, and yesterday’s 92-94 in a result-clean eighth concerns me almost as much as the issues Colby Lewis and Nick Tepesch had locating on Sunday.
But we have enough experience as baseball fans in mid-March to know that concerns over Feliz’s velocity and Adrian Beltre’s quad muscle and Neal Cotts’s ineffectiveness could end up fading away with all the evanescence of Rolando Roomes’s big league career. The good stuff from Arizona could be desert mirage, too — remember how we felt a year ago this time, as David Murphy was taking .313/.348/.453 camp numbers into his contract year.
Texas won its second straight game yesterday for the first time this spring, and if you’d like to get worked up about that, be my guest, but spring training, of course, is less about moments than it is about process, and unless you’re Brent Lillibridge or Kevin Kouzmanoff fighting for a bench spot, or Engel Beltre or Michael Kirkman trying to make an absence of options stand up, the moments and results just don’t matter a ton.
Still, coming back home this weekend to see Nick Williams and Ronald Guzman do loud things to a baseball, and to see Rafael Perez remind us momentarily of the Rafael Perez we used to know, and to see Pat Cantwell shake Joakim Soria’s hand at the end of a game (which may happen again before Williams and Guzman arrive in Arlington), and to see Michael Choice make baseball his wheelhouse, those things do tend to work on me, in a yearly bucket list kind of way, and I’m going to go ahead and hit “send” on this report, because I’ve got about three things I’ve gotta go do.