WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3rd
My brother tagged along with me today, and although he spent the majority of the time texting back and forth with his girlfriend (he's in high school), I think he had a blast. He'd been down to Spring Training several years ago with my Dad and Step-mom but he's gotten more into baseball and probably appreciated it a little more this time. That and the autographs from Baker, Kubel, Duensing, and Span that he now sports.
He also did the sensible thing and wore a jacket. I figured because it wasn't raining that I was set, but the breeze sure got chilly, especially because we spent the whole time outside wandering around. (Yes I realize I'm talking about chilly breeze in Florida and you are probably reading this in the utter cold of Minnesota, but still, I expect warmth down here.)
There was some more pitcher's fielding practice going on when we arrived. It's kind of interesting to watch for awhile but it can get old if that's all you see everyday. I like watching some of the other drills that they do like the relays and the baserunning, and I love watching pitcher warmups on the side-fields which I saw plenty of today.
Obligatory shot of Manship, Blackburn, and Delaney watching fielding practice. Notice they all are wearing jackets. I am not. Notice also the grey sky.
From there I wandered over to the back fields where I could get up close to the gate without many other people around me. People tend to congregate in two areas at Spring Training:
1. Close to Hammond Stadium and the first field over there
2. Wherever Joe Mauer is
Thus I was one of the few people down at these back fields today, even though Rod Carew was down there all day working with Nick Punto and Ben Revere.
Anyway, I got to spend a lot of time watching Alex Burnett warm up tossing to Danny Rams.
Burnett has some nasty. He's gonna be good.
There was a lady near me who kept asking who the catcher was, she had never heard of Danny Rams. I hope Seth is proud of me because thanks to his prospect info inundation I was able to tell her that he's a power-hitting prospect, needs to work on hitting for average and a better control of the strike zone and he played most of the year in A-ball at Beloit.
I don't think she understood half of what I said though.
Speaking of talking about prospects with people, I wandered over for awhile to the low-level prospect field and saw Max Kepler warming up again. He was swinging the bat around and doing some jogging but I didn't see him take any batting practice today. Neither did I see Sano hit unfortunately. My brother was particularly impressed with the fact that they're his age and are playing pro-ball.
Max Kepler-Roczyskiaihaoansi (or something)
I went back to the main field in time to see Delmon young taking some BP. It was hard to get a good photo through the grated fence and then the BP cage, but you can kind of see his stance here. I think that was the important thing. He seemed to be carrying his stance from the end of last year into his at-bats in spring training which I think is a good sign. His leg kick wasn't high either it was just a short step before he would connect with the ball. And those reports about his weight loss are dead-on. He really does look different.
He's so skinny it was hard to get a picture of him.
He was taking batting practice with Punto and it was kind of a stark difference.
Punto laments that Young can hit further...
Speaking of someone who can hit the ball far, Chris Parmelee took some swings in the cage and when he connects he can launch the ball.
It will be interesting to see him progress because if he can hit for average he will be a great addition to the club someday.
By this time Burnett had moved on and Slama was warming up in the bullpen with Stu Cliburn giving him some advice on gripping the ball a different way. I didn't hear what it was exactly but it sounded like they were both happy with the results and Danny Lehmann kept giving positive feedback to Slama too.
When he throws he is lanky. It's like watching a bunch of limbs unfurl and come hurtling at you. I watched him pitch in Rochester and he was getting knocked around a bit but I think he'll be able to start dominating at AAA this year like he has every step along the way, and I can't wait to see him in the bigs soon.
We worked our way back to the fields right next to Hammond Stadium and I caught my first glimpse of Jacque Jones. He was taking some BP off Anthony Swarzak and then he went around behind the cage and started chatting with Gardy, Bobby Cuellar, Joe Christensen and a few coaches and he had them all in stitches and wore that trademark grin on his face. It was great seeing him back on the team.
This is me doing beat-writer stalking... I freaked La Velle out too when I approached him later
We then began walking into the stadium but saw that Scott Baker and Brian Duensing were signing autographs to we went over so he could get his ball autographed.
Baker signing after throwing some BP.
Duensing signed right after Baker did.
I wandered over to the batting cages after that and saw a few people taking turns there. Most notably was Orlando Hudson who I'd been looking for all day. Unfortunately again, through all the mesh it's hard to get a good shot...
...but here's my best effort! It's fun to see him in a Twins uniform!
I then wandered back to the back fields again where it wasn't quite as crowded and I got there just in time to see Ben Revere step into the batting cage. True he doesn't put on a display like Delmon Young or Chris Parmelee driving the ball, but he is all smiles when he's out there and certainly still makes solid contact. It's just fun to watch such a good prospect who has such an amazing attitude.
Look at that sassy walk! I love it!
He was definitely the classiest, nicest guy I met last year when I was down here and he's probably my favorite guy to see again.
He even jumped in for a picture with me for our blog today! What's not to love?!
Anyway, after Revere was done people began to wrap up. We wandered back to the stadium and caught Kubel and Span making their way into the clubhouse. I also had a Wayne "Big Fella" Hattaway sighting.
That about did it for us. It was too cold to hang around much longer and wait for the players to leave the clubhouse -- and most of them like to sneak out casually anyway. So we drove back to Naples and I had an amazing caeser salad with seared yellowfin tuna and enough rum runners, electric lemonade, and pina coladas to keep me satisfied the rest of the day.
I'm not sure if I'll catch practices tomorrow morning as that's when the visitation is scheduled for and it might be a little much to go up to Ft. Myers afterwards, but I will definitely be attending the Red Sox/Twins clash that evening over at the Red Sox stadium, so expect a late post on my thoughts from the first game of the season!