Monday, April 6, 2015

Leftovers from Monday's Knights-Wildcats scrimmage

Here's a smattering of leftover quotes/thoughts from Monday's Charlotte Knights - Davidson Wildcats scrimmage at BB&T Ballpark...

The Knights and Wildcats really took advantage of their "scrimmage" on Monday.

Charlotte manager Joel Skinner penciled 11 guys on to his batting order and sent three pitchers and a catcher over to the Wildcats' dugout.

Two innings ended before three outs were completed. One Davidson batter got to see four strikes. Much like a concert, the Knights and Wildcats played an extra (unannounced) half inning that allowed Daniel Webb to get some extra work.

"Today was a controlled environment, which is what we were looking for," said Skinner. "We’re very thankful to Davidson because that’s much better than having to play simulated games. To actually have live competition and no (cage) above home plate, was just what we needed right there." 

White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon -- who was a bit under the weather -- started the game for the Wildcats, with his former N.C. State battery mate Brett Austin catching (yes, it looked a bit strange to see two former members of the Wolfpack with a team of Wildcats behind them). 

Rodon’s outing was up and down. The lefthander struggled with his location and failed to get through two of his four innings before reaching his maximum pitch count of 25 per inning.

In four(ish) innings of work (unofficially 67 pitches), Rodon struck out three, walked four and hit a batter, while throwing mostly fastballs and changeups. He did not surrender a run, but that was largely due to his high pitch count ending two innings early.

"Carlos got his work in," said Knights pitching coach Richard Dotson. "He wasn’t feeling too good. He was a little bit under the weather and was kind of erratic with the strike zone, but he’s shown that his first inning can be his toughest. After that, he usually settles down a little bit and he did today and he got through it." 

Dotson noted that a lot of Rodon's misses on Monday were high to his arm side. 
"A perfect strategy against him early in the game is to let him get two strikes," said Dotson, playing devil's advocate. "Take until you get two strikes, because he’ll throw a lot of pitches, get his count way up and won’t be able to last as long." 

Rodon, who is now scheduled to make his 2015 Knights debut on Saturday, took time to speak with the media following the outing. 

"My command wasn’t very good with the fastball," he said, while battling a stuffed-up nose." I threw a couple good changeups, but it was more just to get work in and get ready for my start coming up."

While he acknowledged not feeling well, Rodon didn't want anyone to think he was using that as an excuse. 

"Yeah (I'm sick)," he said, "but you can’t use it as an excuse. I’m sure some time this season I’m going to be under the weather and I’m going to have to pitch and produce and perform for my team. So, we’re not going to use that." 

Rodon also noted that during warmups he felt good about his changeup. 

"I just couldn’t correlate it when I got out to the mound, which is weird," he said. "I guess that adrenaline comes and you’re not as smooth, but it’s getting there."

Newly signed Matt Lindstrom made his spring debut with the Knights and was tagged for three runs and the loss. Lindstrom, who worked 92-94 mph with his fastball, tossed the fifth inning for Davidson and surrendered a run-scoring triple to Knights’ centerfielder Trayce Thompson. 

Scott Carroll, Zach Phillips and Webb combined to hold the Wildcats hitless on the day. The lone “Davidson” hit on the afternoon came off the bat of Austin.

Brett Austin, who will likely be reassigned once George Kottaras (personal) arrives in Charlotte, spoke a bit about Rodon's outing. 

On Rodon's Changeup:

"Everybody says that’s his bugaboo and that’s why he’s in Tripe-A right now. Personally, I think he’s good enough to be up right now with the big league team, but that’s neither one of our calls. Today he threw (the changeup) in warmups and it looked really good. If he can just repeat it over and over again, I think he wont be here too long."

On Rodon's "misses" with the changeup today:

"Up and away. He doesn’t finish it. We were talking today and sometimes he tries to do too much with it instead of letting the grip do its thing. He tries to manipulate it a bit too much. He just needs to trust it, throw it and he’ll be good.

On the pitch's movement:

"It’s almost like a two-seamer, but slower. It drops. When it’s good, it’s really good. He just needs to repeat it." 

Of Note: Prior to the start of Monday’s scrimmage, the Knights released their pitching lineup for the opening series against the Norfolk Tides. Veteran righthander Brad Penny is scheduled to start Game 1, with Chris Beck going in Game 2 and Rodon making his 2015 debut on Saturday. Scott Carroll and Shawn Haviland should round out the five starters. …  2,192 fans turned out to BB&T Ballpark to watch the 3 p.m. game, which was free of charge.