Feb. 20, 2018
The players were inside for the physicals, etc., so workouts didn’t start until 11am. This technically wasn’t a full-squad workout day, so we knew we weren’t going to see the same routine as the last few days. We saw a Baker 12 shirt for the first time. Noticed that the Astros were testing the video board in the park: I knew it was the Astros because I could see Orbit in the video. While waiting for the players, I watched them prepare the mounds beside the practice fields, so the pitchers could warm up before pitching to live players.
Then we wandered off to talk to people (locals, staff, other visitors, guys who sit in the next section to us in the ballpark, and basically anyone who stood still and wanted to talk about baseball). Dr. Dennis Cullen (team internist for 12 years) stopped by and introduced himself, and showed off photos of his brand new grandson. He said that this year felt in the clubhouse like 2012: when everyone looked up and said “Hey, we’re good!” I haven’t seen Dave Martinez yet, but Susan-at-the-gate confirmed that when he saw her at the gate, he was solicitous about her foot (almost healed, we hope!). Adam Eaton came out between the mounds and the batting cages and signed for everyone, and chatted about his son and the one on the way.
Okay, here come the players, all 61 of them, plus two oodles of coaches and trainers (I counted 28 pitchers and 11 other folks on one field). You can’t get them to sign at this point, but you can have a two-sentence conversation with them (good morning, good luck, GO LSU). The media and video recording folks followed. I did not bother photographing them. Complimented Tanner Roark on his facial fur. He said “thanks”.
Somehow Gio Gonzalez got loose from the group and ended up chatting with fans on the way to the drills.
Next up was pitcher pretzels followed by long toss. Joe Ross was included in these drills (I told him good luck with the rehab, and he thanked me). Scherzer was throwing to Joaquin Benoit (leftmost pitcher in the second photo, #53)—wow, the sound that ball makes hitting the glove when Scherzer really rears back and throws–serious THWACK.
Among the drills today were catcher popup drills, and fielder popup drills. Pro tip: catcher popup drills are a great place to catch baseballs. They must have popped 10 over the screen. Bring a kid for even better odds.
Pitchers and fielders also did popup drills. Here’s Max Scherzer coming almost to the plate to catch one, to the surprise of no one.
The pitchers warmed up on those side mounds, then threw to live batters. That’s Gio and Enny Romero.
Sometimes they swung, sometimes they were told to take (including for the pitchout practice). Of course the pitchers are ahead of the hitters at this point, except Eaton somehow. He was bopping the ball all over the field. Brandon Kintzler, Gonzales, Sean Doolittle, Romero were among the pitchers. That’s Eaton hitting a “double down the line.”
Eaton looked pretty darn flexible. Players and coaches kept coming by and patting him (good luck? Welcome back? Is it really you?). Your guess is as good as mine.
They’ve started using the air horns again to tell the hitters when to change drills. Check Bob Henley’s back pockets.
We actually left while there were still a few hitters left to go, but at this stage there wasn’t a lot more to be learned unless something really weird happened. Plus, my phone was running out of juice, so we headed off to lunch. Let’s finish off with Andrew Stevenson hitting.