Seeing the Seattle Mariners' struggles recently, the Seattle Sounders decided to change it up today, dropping this whole soccer thing and picking up bats and gloves. It turns out, many of those lovable faces we see on the pitch can actually play a little softball, including members of the walking wounded.
It was a simple game, with the full squad divided into two teams for a good old-fashioned softball throwdown. And with the Mariners struggling in places, a few players might be getting a call-up to play some ball at Safeco Field, leaving head coach Sigi Schmid high and dry. While a few looked competent, others provided entertainment as teammates, support staff and media members had a laugh at their expense. It was truly an enjoyable day for all.
After the jump, a look at training and the standouts from Tuesday's session.
Taylor Graham, the one-handed wonder, was a wizard with the bat, using just his right hand to jack two home runs over the tall fence in left in back-to-back at bats. Osvaldo Alonso played the role of slap-hitting defensive specialist, and had an impressive diving stop up the middle during the game. Even Nate Jaqua got in on the fun, smashing a lob deep to center field for an inside the park homerun.
There were some lowlights, and a few Sounders that should definitely stick to soccer. It was clear Alvaro Fernandez has barely played baseball/softball before, if he has at all. After finally making contact, Fernandez made like a little-leaguer and took the bat with him to first base, but was out by a mile. Leo Gonzalez still isn't sure what baseball is, nor does he understand how to use a glove.
Fredy Montero, injured wrist and all, did bat one-handed during his first time up, though we're still not sure whether he's left- or right-handed, nor did it appear he was. The right side of the infield was an adventure for both teams as both Mike Fucito and Erik Friberg couldn't find the range and ended up airmailing throws to the other field. Friberg realized playing the field wasn't going well and trudged to right field with his head down, where nary a ball went the rest of the game.
In the end, it was all about having some fun and relaxing after a nice win on Saturday. Playing softball, or any other non-soccer activity, breaks the monotony and gives players a chance to try something new while serving as a bonding experience.
"We work every day and the guys put in the effort so now they can play a little bit for fun. It was good," said head coach Sigi Schmid. "It's always interesting when you put a bat in a foreigner's hand or a glove, or two gloves on their hands like in Leo's case and he still can't catch it."
The Sounders will be back at training again on Wednesday as they prepare for this weekends game. For one day, the team was able to forget soccer while spending an hour or so laughing and joking at each other's expense.