Ever wondered what it would be like to catch the Memphis Redbirds’ pre-game batting practice? Enjoy the exclusive footage of your favorite players filmed around AutoZone Park.
Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) was drafted by St. Louis in 2008 out of UNLV and is in the midst of his seventh professional season. He grew up in California and attended Poway High School in San Diego. The infielder spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals’ Double-A affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals, where he is the all-time career home runs leader with 59.
“A few years ago I was blogging for Scout.com and had a great time doing it,” Scruggs said. “I wrote about winter ball and my season in Springfield. When the Redbirds Media team approached me about blogging, I immediately thought about how awesome it would be to give fans an inside look on a player’s thoughts and everyday experiences.”
The 2014 season is here and underway and I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s Memphis Redbirds team. It is another season to show improvement, strive for your dreams and to grind all 140 games. Triple A is a new experience for me.
I have never been to Memphis but I have heard so much about it. The first day we arrived I couldn’t help but be in awe of such an awesome stadium. I stared at the field just thinking how AutoZone Park will be my new playground for the next 6 months. It was three days before the season started but I already wanted to be on the field. I was visualizing myself in the batter’s box and hitting one over the fence. Redbirds fans showed up for one of our first practices and it only emphasized how awesome it is to have so many people that support you.
Needless to say I am very blessed to be here. Every day I remind myself to not take this for granted. When I think about it, all I’m really doing is playing the sport I have loved to play since I was five years old. What makes it even more special is that every year I get to play in front of so many Cardinal fans that truly love the game as much as I do. For that I will be forever thankful grateful.
There are two things that I have always associated with Memphis and I’m sure it is probably the same for others who aren’t from here: music and food. People warned me about the food here in Memphis. They told me there is a good chance I could get fat with all the wonderful food here in this city. It’s such a shame that all the hard work I put into shedding pounds this offseason will be put to waste with places like Rendezvous, Central BBQ, Gus’s, Blue Plate Cafe and Germantown Commissary surrounding me. I’m not complaining though because being from California it’s not too often I get options like this.
My first thought about the upcoming season is that we have a very talented team. It is not every day that a team has such a remarkable outstanding core of guys. I’m positive that our team will do very well this year. True baseball fans know that a team only goes as far as their pitching will take them. With that being said we could definitely lose pitchers to the big league team if they are pitching well. Actually that could be said for both position players and pitchers. That is one thing that I will have to get used to more of this year, seeing players get promoted to the big leagues. That’s the most exciting part though, knowing that you are only one step away from being in ‘the show’. That’s all the motivation I need.
I’m happy to call Memphis my new home for a little while, but hopefully not for too long because I would love to check out St. Louis as well. More blogging to come very soon, but for now you can find more of my thoughts on Twitter. Until next time!
Born: August 26,1986 at Sonoma, California
Resides: Sonoma, California
According to Brett
Favorite Color: Blue
Favorite Ballplayer Growing Up: Ken Griffey Jr.
Clubhouse Nicknames: ‘Wally’ or ‘B-dub’
Favorite Famous Wallace: Sir William Wallace
Band or Artist You’re Listening to Currently: “I’m a big T.I. guy right now.”
Newest Hobby: “Play on my new iPhone.”
Best Thing to do in Sonoma: Spend time with family, brothers and niece
Recent Broken Bone Story: “I’ve only broken one bone in my entire life and I was six…playing baseball in the backyard, I jumped up and broke my foot trying to rob a home run.”
Lightning Round Responses
- Dogs over Cats
- Summer over Winter
- Fruits over Vegetables
- Movies over Books
- Offense over Defense
- Country Music over Water Sports
Memphis’ Best Kept Secret: “That’s tough because I haven’t been here long…I’d say the Redbirds, because we’re losing right now, but we’ll turn it around. We’re going to do better the second half.”
Brett Wallace’s Best Kept Secret: “I’d say that I’m shy, because people think I’m not. People think I’m really outgoing, but I’m really shy.”
Shane Robinson’s Best Kept Secret: “Shane wears Affliction every day. If you see someone wearing Affliction in Memphis, it’s probably Shane.”
It’s our last day in Tacoma with the ‘Birds going for a series split with the Rainiers and the weather could not have been better all weekend. The weather has been sunny and in the 70s all four days we’ve been here. All the stories you hear about it raining here all the time have not been true during this visit.
The Cardinals activated Rick Ankiel from the DL today which meant somebody had to come back to Memphis. That somebody was Tyler Greene, who was hitting .257 in 11 games with the Cardinals in his first big league time.In 19 games with the Redbirds Greene was hitting .296 with two homers and nine RBI.
Memphis will travel to Portland after today’s game and open a four-game series with the Beavers tomorrow afternoon at PGE Park. The ‘Birds and Beavers split their four-game set in Memphis last season. The series could be a low scoring one with both teams being the top two pitching teams in the PCL and the worst two hitting teams in the league. The Redbirds pitchers have a 3.54 ERA compared to the Beavers 3.67 team ERA. Memphis is hitting .241 and Portland is hitting .240 on the year. If you like pitcher’s duels this might be the series for you.
After finishing up in Portland the ‘Birds are back home on Friday, May 29 to play six games in four days against Iowa. Memphis and Iowa will play two seven-inning games on Saturday, May 30 with the first game beginning at 4:05 p.m. and fireworks following the second game. On Sunday, May 31 the two teams will pick up the suspended game from May 3 with the I-Cubs already leading 2-0 in the fourth. A seven-inning game will follow the suspended game. No rest for the weary because after the game on June 1 the ‘Birds head back out on the road to Oklahoma City. Memphis is definitely in a tough strech of games over the next couple of weeks with games, opponents and travel.
Last weekend’s exhibition games against the St. Louis Cardinals was significant in that it issued in the Redbirds first taste of baseball in AutoZone Park of 2009, but it was special for other reasons as well. Primarily, it introduced two vulnerable, naive youths named Ben and Alex to the tumultuous, tenacious world of professional baseball.
We did manage to have some fairly great experiences. In a weekend certainly filled with more highs than lows, the two of us are pleased to announce some of our personal highlights and not-so-highlights of the weekend.
1. Getting quotes in the Cardinals clubhouse – My first brush with a major league clubhouse was an absolutely surreal mix of stonewashed denim, tattoos and Rambo. Everyone was extremely personable and answered questions, which was great for a guy who was unbelievably nervous about the whole thing. Awesome.
2. Albert Pujols’ monster performance over the weekend – On Friday night alone, he posted a 3-for-5 outing with a homer and six RBI. He definitely put on the performance everyone wanted to see over the weekend. Super awesome.
3. Jose Oquendo – The Cardinals third-base coach and all-around legend decided to get in an at-bat in Saturday’s exhibition game, earning the walk and eventually making it all the way to third base. Baseball dreams do come true. Undeniably awesome.
Not the best:
Tripping in the Redbirds radio booth – It’s hard to make friends with broadcasters when you misjudge steps and form-tackle trash cans live on-air. I can only assume the sound of clanging aluminum raises more questions than answers from the listeners’ perspective. Embarrassingly awesome.
1. The Cardinals Clubhouse – Finally getting experience interviewing professional athletes. Who better to break me in than Tony La Russa? I was fortunate enough to be in there with a few other interviewers, who knew what they were doing. Pretty cool.
2. Getting stared down by Albert Pujols – I enjoy taking photos and I was granted access to the field during warm-ups. I was really close to Albert Pujols and started taking some photos. A few pictures in he turned his head and stared me down. It was evident he wasn’t going to back down so I turned and took pictures of the player he was throwing to. Really just being able to take photos on the field was a privilege.
3. Action in Press Box – I was finally able to see how it all works. From the FOX Sports truck to the delicious buffet, there were a lot of people running around and getting everything in order, including myself. There was a buzz in the air. I think everyone was ready for professional baseball in the AZP.
Yellow – I never thought I’d be saying this about my favorite color, but wearing a pale yellow game day polo in a Cardinal-red dominated clubhouse certainly didn’t help me blend in. And for a rookie interviewer unsure who to interview, I have trouble believing that I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Still, the experience will not forget.
This weekend was unquestionably phenomenal, but it’s only the tip of a giant, diamond-shaped iceberg. The Redbirds officially kick off their season Thursday, April 9, when they take on the Oklahoma City RedHawks, so expect the good times to keep rolling all summer long. All-in-all, we’re pretty pumped about some catching some Redbirds baseball this year.
Director of Communications Kyle Parkinson is at Spring Training this week which means updates from Jupiter on Chirp Chatter all week. This is the first official non-Ben and Alex post on this blog and I promise I will not use awesomeness in any of the headlines this week.
The Redbirds traveling party arrived yesterday in time to catch the majority of the ‘Birds loss to New Orleans and have dinner with athletic trainer Chris Conroy. It’s hard to believe we’ve already been here for two days. And when I say we I mean myself, President of Baseball Operations/GM Dave Chase, President of Business Operations Bill Harter and Broadcaster Steve Selby. The two days we
have been here have been action packed, we’ve seen the ‘Birds lose a game, win a game, talked with our field staff, caught up with former Memphis manager Gaylen Pitts and pitching coach Dyar Miller, watched a few innings of the Marlins/Twins and I already have a pretty good tan going which is tantastic.
Today’s game against Springfield was a great chance to see players that are on our team and players that will likely be on our team at some point in the future. Normally, we don’t get much of a chance to see the players on the Springfield roster due to them playing on another field at the same time the Redbirds are playing. Mitchell Boggs and Clayton Mortensen were both strong in their three-inning efforts. Boggs pitched against the Redbirds which was a little weird to watch him head to the other dugout after the inning. The ‘Birds
infield had a new look to it with Jarrett Hoffpauir at third, Tyler Greene at shortstop, Casey Rowlett at second and Nick Stavinoha at first. Out of those four only Greene played the position he played today for the Redbirds last season. It looks like the word for this camp is versatility.
Here we go again. And it’s a big one. In keeping with some of the recent transactions going down in camp, we thought it would be best to stay current and give you our second set of projections for the Redbirds Opening Day roster, two weeks before the team’s first exhibition game. We’ve decided to rule out Pujols and make the stunning prediction that he will begin the season as a Cardinal. Other than that, it’s easy to spot the lack of differences between this lineup and last Friday’s, but the re-assignments on Monday did manage to shake a few things up, most notably in the bullpen.
We added left-handed reliever Charlie Manning to the mix, who finished his eighth year in professional baseball pitching in 57 games with Washington after starting the year with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers of the International League. In his major league debut, Manning posted a 5.14 ERA with 37 strikeouts versus 31 walks.
So with those changes in mind, here’s what we have so far:
Mitchell Boggs RHP – Ended the year with the Redbirds, finishing the season ranked first in the Pacific Coast League in ERA; made his major league debut with St. Louis.
Jess Todd RHP – Ended the 2008 season with the Redbirds, pitching in 36 games with a 3.97 ERA on the season.
P.J. Walters RHP – Led the Redbirds in strikeouts in 2008 with 122.
Clayton Mortensen RHP – Pitched in 15 games with Memphis, recording 57 strikeouts to 87 hits in 310 opposing at-bats.
Blake Hawksworth RHP – Appeared in 18 games for the Redbirds, compiling a 5-7 record with a 6.09 ERA.
Tyler Herron RHP – Threw for a career-high 137.1 innings with a combined 102 strikeouts and 40 walks in 2008.
Matt Scherer RHP – Finished his first season as a Redbird with a 3.93 ERA, accumulating 32 strikeouts.
Ian Ostlund LHP – Spent his first full season at the Triple-A level with Toledo, compiling a 3-0 record with a 2.44 ERA in 44 appearances.
Luke Gregerson RHP – Spent the full season with Double-A Springfield, compiling a 3.35 ERA and a 7-6-10 record in 75.1 innings as a reliever.
Fernando Salas RHP – Named Scout.com’s “Reliever of the Year,” leading the Texas League in saves (25) and games pitched (60).
Josh Dew RHP – Threw a total of 50 innings for a 1-2-2 record with a 4.50 ERA for Springfield.
Charlie Manning LHP
David Freese – Appeared in a career-high 131 games with a .306 average, 58 extra-base hits and 91 RBI.
Tyler Greene – Began his fourth year in professional baseball with Double-A Springfield, hitting .259 with 25 extra-base hits and 41 RBI.
Allen Craig – The Texas League All-Star finished the season ranked third among Texas League batters with 154 total hits while with Double-A Springfield.
Jarrett Hoffpauir – Hit .273 with 31 doubles, four homers and 45 RBI after spending the entire 2008 season with Memphis.
Brian Barden – Hit .285 as a member of the Redbirds and earned his third stint in the big leagues, hitting .222 and recording his first major league RBI as a Cardinal.
Joe Thurston – A 2008 International League All-Star who makes his return to the PCL after three years of absence.
Jon Jay – Hit .345 (20×58) with six extra-base hits and 10 RBI in his 16 games with the Redbirds.
Nick Stavinoha – A 2008 PCL All-Star with the ‘Birds, finished ’08 hitting .337, which was fifth- best in the PCL.
Shane Robinson – Shined in Springfield batting .352 (86×244) and produced a .220 average as a ‘Bird.
Brian Barton – Appeared in 82 games with St. Louis, putting together a .268 average with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and 13 RBI.
Bryan Anderson – Appeared in 73 games as a Redbird with a .281 average, 13 doubles, two triples, two home runs and 27 RBI; was selected to participate in the 2008 Futures Game.
Justin Knoedler – Spent the entire 2008 season with Triple-A Sacramento as a member of the Oakland A’s system, hitting 12 doubles, one
triple, 10 home runs and 34 RBI.
While there aren’t many spots left, there are still some question marks going into the season. In particular, the bullpen situation is still somewhat up in the air and the backup catcher spot is in no way set in stone. Minor league Spring Training games kick off tomorrow, so there should be some more definitive answers once Redbirds camp gets underway.
If we can make assumptions based on speculation, so can you. Let us know what you think the roster should or will be as the countdown to the first pitch of the 2009 season continues.
As we wait for the professional ball players to return to Memphis, we fill the baseball void with what we have in the city through our STRIPES (Sports Teams Returning In the Public Education System) program. The following are photos from last Thursday’s clinic at Vance Middle School. For more information on STRIPES, check here.
Any stories out there from the readers? Please comment. Perhaps remembering baseball will help speed up the three weeks remaining before the Cardinals exhibition game Friday April 3.
In our ongoing quest to conquer the Internet, the Redbirds are pleased to announce that we have set up a brand new Twitter account. This will hopefully enable us to distribute even more information as quickly as possible. Feel free to use the area as a platform to let us know your opinions on what is going on with the team as the season gets underway and what information is important to you. As always, for any news regarding the Redbirds and what all is happening this season, check out our main page at memphisredbirds.com.