Instead of making our way up to Sarasota to check out the game at Baltimore, Seth and I decided to take in some morning workouts from the people who stayed behind. We made the trek up in time to hopefully see the bus leave but got there just a little bit late. We were hoping to see if Joe Mauer got on the bus in case the Twins were going to pull out a surprise like they did with Morneau and get him his first game action away from the fans, so instead we just kept an eye out for him at the complex (I saw him being carted around on one of the golf carts, so that settled it, he had stayed behind).
We wandered down to the minor league area for awhile and saw some of the younger players working out on their own on one of the fields -- we got a great view getting to wander right up to the fence behind the catchers as the caught some unofficial bullpen sessions. Eventually Tommy Watkins wandered out with a bunch of people from near the minor league batting cages and called everyone over for some live BP.
While they went to get everything ready for BP we went back to the major league area and saw some pitcher's fielding practice, which is always kind of fun to watch. Even though not much action goes on, you get to see a large variety of pitchers going through some basic drills at the same time.
I then wandered over to the batting cages under the stadium and saw Jim Thome hitting off a tee while Tony Oliva and Delmon Young watched. Meanwhile, Ben Revere was hitting next to him with Carew and Jason Repko watching him. Eventually Revere and Repko wandered away and Carew joined Oliva, Young and Thome. Thome started talking to Delmon and I could just hear pieces but he was talking about how the difference between being good and being great is consistency, and that that stems from finding consistency in your swing. It was great watching him just start pontificating and sharing his years of knowledge like that and I can only imagine how he drops little insights like that throughout the course of the year to his teammates.
Eventually everyone left the batting cages under the stadium and went for some live BP.
I will admit, most of my pictures are over people's rear ends. Ugh. I've got to work on my photography. But that's Oliva, Carew, Young, and Morneau -- pretty good collection of players leaning against the fence.
I watched a few rounds of BP, and if you go over to Seth's site you can read a little bit more about some funny tidbits from there.
Eventually Tom Kelly told everyone to head to the stadium to keep working out. This is one of the moments, moving from that practice field to the stadium that all the players walk in front of a short little fence that everyone leans over and hollers for autographs. Everyone usually waves and acknowledges the fans if they get hollered at, but if they have some place to go and are in the middle of practice, it's not very likely that they can stop and sign for a long time at that fence.
Joe Nathan was one of the last people to wander over to the stadium and of course everyone was calling to him. He waved and ended up setting his stuff down and coming over to sign autographs for fans for a long time -- and actually I had seen him do the same thing the day before. He's really a great ambassador to the fans and takes lots of time out of his schedule to connect with the people who follow him, which is a great thing and will surely be missed if he doesn't come back after next year.
I hung around outside the stadium while Seth went inside to call into a radio show and watched players trickle out from the locker rooms one at a time. Ben Revere walked by and I congratulated him on the his great catch from the day before. Someone else went up and got an autograph from him and you could see the scuffs all over his hands from the diving catch. I'm definitely glad he's OK enough to play because I can't reiterate enough how amazing that catch was, he definitely could have come away more banged up than that.
Anthony Slama also walked out on his way to the parking lot and you could see some sort of a large butterly looking bandaid or bandage taped up on his right elbow -- Seth had noticed earlier how during PFP he was still going through the motions but was the only one not throwing an actual baseball. Hopefully he comes back and is able to play soon because he could be a valuable addition to an already questionable bullpen.
Finally we left the stadium and spent the rest of the day at the Sunset Beach Bar in Naples, drinking and walking along the beach, and eventually ended the night by meeting up with Steve from Gear Up For Sports and Twitter (@MNTwinsGUFS) and his friend who are both down here for Spring Training as well. We ended up eating at Michelbob's, a staple of LaVelle Neal's Spring Training dining guides and one of the best BBQ restaurants with ribs that just fall off the bone, perfectly smoked pork, and amazing peanut butter pie and key lime pie. If you come to Southwest Florida you need to make the trip there.