Josh Fields knew he was throwing a simulated game today. He just didn't know that the first hitter of the game would be a hall of famer.
"I didn't know who I was going to be throwing to," Fields admitted. "Last week, I threw BP to some minor leaguers. I had no idea. All I knew I was going to throw to hitters."
Those hitters turned out to be Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Sweeney and Yuniesky Betancourt.
"I saw those guys and it was pretty cool," Fields said.
Griffey and Sweeney watched Fields closely behind the cages when he was warming up. Griffey even had a few comments about the velocity of Fields' fastball.
"It's comin'," he said.
Griffey also got the honor of stepping in against Fields first. And first pitch he saw was a fastball that sailed so high and wide that the catcher couldn't even get a glove on it.
Griffey paused and stepped out of the box, looked at Fields and said, "settle down, it's only going to sting for a second."
"He was giving me a hard time," Fields admitted.
Fields only threw one strike to Griffey which he fouled off. But the rest were balls.
He looked a little more poised against Sweeney and Betancourt, keeping the ball around the plate. Both players did put the ball in play off him, but nothing with any pace.
"It definitely adds a little adrenaline," Fields said. "I was just trying to calm myself down and make pitches. It took a little while, but once I calmed down, got myself in a rhythm. I felt a lot better."
Each player took three turns in the cage, the final two at-bats, Fields threw from the stretch. He failed to throw Griffey a strike. Against Sweeney, he snapped a nice curveball for a strike. But Sweeney saw something beyond that, he saw Fields tip the pitch, letting him know the curveball was coming. Initially Sweeney wanted to tell Fields, but waited till after the at-bat was done.
"He saw me do something a little different when I came set," Fields said. "There was a little hitch in there. It was really cool. I've wondered if I've done that for a while, even in college. Nobody's ever said anything to me about so I just assumed I was alright. It was good to hear that. It's something that I get to keep working on."