The catchers were hitting on Field 1 as we came into the park. Spouse yelled at one of the fielders, “Hey, throw me one!” He responded “where’s your glove?” When she said “home in my dresser drawer,” he bounced one out to her. No kids in the vicinity, so we kept it.
Said good morning to general manager Mike Rizzo and told him we’d met his dad in Arizona last fall, where he’d told us to (1) hit Mike up for free tickets and (2) give him a hard time next time when we saw him. Rizzo said “was he yelling at everyone?” and got a laugh out of the “free ticket” gambit. Rizzo has his own little cart marked GM on the front. Other carts are marked Clubhouse and Security—but they otherwise look the same. Then there are what I’ll call the groundskeepers’ carts, the clubhouse-schleppage carts, and the field-grooming machines, as well as the fan transport carts (new this year). So all-in-all, you need to be ready to step off into the grass at any time.
In case anyone was wondering “where’s Gio?” I can confirm that he’s alive and well. He stopped by to give Susan-at-the-gate a kiss and told her he’d just been keeping out of the sun. After seeing the pitchers heading off for practice, we decided to focus on the activities at Fields 3, 4, 5, 6 near the back of the complex. Those fields have small bleachers next to them, and if you position yourself strategically, you can sit in the shade of the young trees that shade about 5% of each bleacher. Nice thought to plant those trees: they are only going to be there for the benefit of the fans since the shade will never reach the playing area. I hope I’ll be coming back here long enough for those trees to shade the entire bleachers!
The group started warming up with some calisthenics, led by the little guy in the bucket hat, far end of the third row. I call this one dancing with the stars.
I noticed that unlike two years ago in Viera (last time I was able to observe ST), the group wasn’t really as synchronized. In Viera, they really were synchronized, the groups were larger, and there was more time spent stretching (but SSS: it’s early yet). Of course, that was also the year that every time Gio got distracted (“bird!” “fan!”) Pap would get him back in line. The arm exercises looked more like semaphore practice: leader would have his left hand up and the players would raise some body part. Glover and Gott were in this group.
Time for “player pretzels.” Note the excellent view of Roark’s hamstrings: he was doing his own stretching routine—my arms hurts just looking at some of the moves he could make.
On to “pitchers fielding popups” practice. They do three sets of routines: right-handed batter, left-handed batter, and popped up bunts. That nifty machine avoids having the coaches hit fungos. The coach changes the angle of the machine each time so the pitcher doesn’t know exactly where the ball is going. This group was A.J. Cole, Koda Glover, Ryan Madson, Sammy Solis, and Trevor Gott. Where is Sean Doolittle? Word is that Dave Martinez has already named Doooo as the team’s closer.
Covering first drill. Unlike the catching popups drill, there were a few bobbles. Yelling “Got it” is included in the drill. This group includes Tanner Roark, David Goforth, Bryan Harper, Erick Fedde. If you don’t know who Goforth is, here is a guide.
Then it was on to batting practice for the early-reporting position players, including Brian Goodwin, Anthony Rendon, Adam Eaton, Trea Turner and Matt Adams. Someone did hit one out into the parking lot—Tony said “hope that wasn’t your car!” Eaton chatted with us a bit between turns, and said how glad he was to be playing. He seemed to me to be hitting as well as everyone else. We thanked him for keeping up the Instagram account to give us B-Man pictures to tide us through the winter. B-Man’s mom confirmed that he has his dad’s go-go-go personality.
Then there was some fielding grounders practice. Mostly the players threw to coaches, but by the end of the drills they were throwing to each other. Matt Adams was among the early reports practicing.
After the official practice was finished (by 11:15 or so), the Eatons stayed around to get in a little extra practice.
As we left, we could hear guys hitting in the cages, but that area is completely invisible to fans, so no idea who it was.