First 24 hours in West Palm Beach

We got here mid-afternoon on Wednesday before the team was readying for the FITTEAM Ballpark season ticket holder event: plenty of time to leisurely shop the team store completely by ourselves . . . and get a great photo of one of the several 2019 World Series logos around the stadium.

Also we got to see them working on the in-stadium version. The outside signage attached to the huge Curly W was in progress when we left today, so I expect it will be displayed in all its glory on Friday in time for ST Opening Day.

Then we came back for the Season Ticket Holders’ event, which was very low-key. Photos with the “hunk of metal,” photos with the giant replica trophy, free ballpark food and beer, autographs by Andrew Stevenson and Carter Kieboom who the team had on-hand for the attendees. Stevo was labeled “outfielder,” Kieboom: “infielder.” I joked with him that I was surprised that they didn’t cross that out and write “3rd base.” The Astros were supposed to send two players, too, but Kyle Tucker was the only one there.

But that was Wednesday. On Thursday, we headed over to the stadium to watch a few workouts and chat with, well, anyone and everyone. That happens when you’re wearing a “Bang Foul Pole, Not Trash Can” t-shirt (I wasn’t the only one there with it). Start with the good info: ushers and grounds crew are also getting rings! (Thanks, “Susan at the Gate” and random DC groundskeeper whose mom liked my shirt so we ended up talking. Susan noted that the Caps’ ushers got rings, and that might be connected to the Lerners’ decision as they are part-owners of the Caps too). This year, everyone has to park on the Astros side of the facility (I think to make it easier to manage security since they have the metal detectors set up). But the cart drivers are friendly: ours dropped us off right at our car in the field.

I am pleased to report that Kyle Brostowitz who is in charge of the Nats communications department and the press and pressbox (and his phone!) survived his birthday water balloon shower (and yes, he threw a few back . . . but hey, he’s up against major leaguers, so he had no chance.) But he said he was nice and cool in yesterday’s heat!

For those who haven’t been there, here’s a shot of a typical setup at a practice field. The little trees are getting big enough to truly shade people sitting on the stands. Folks who want a good look go up to the fence. You can’t see much if you sit right behind the plate because the rolling batting cage is in the way. So most folks are off to one side or the other. You can tell this was when Patrick Corbin was pitching because the crowd was at this field, not the other three where Austin Voth, Tanner Rainey, Ryne Harper, Pablo Espino, etc. were pitching. I say that, but when I went over to the field where Rainey was pitching, I guessed it was him from the sound of the ball hitting Tres Barrera’s glove.

This pitch from Corbin to Adam Eaton was juuuust a bit outside. Also, see the agility and running drills going on in the background: this field is big enough for that.

I did see general manager Mike Rizzo wearing a cap! (Maybe his new bride has gotten on his case about that). He and Dave Martinez came over to the field where Voth was pitching. Among the hitters were Howie Kendrick, Michael A. Taylor, and Eric Thames. No prizes for guessing who this is: just one look at that elbow and you know it’s Thames. He looks as if he could eat MAT for breakfast — and still want a snack. No one hit one out onto Military Trail this morning (Victor Robles did it a couple of years ago).

Ended up chatting with a retired coach who mentioned how well organized the drills were this year and how much more efficient Davey’s setup is compared to Dusty Baker. With the groups split up, there was less waiting around to hit. We talked about the sign stealing situation: he explained that it was often possible to watch a pitcher’s neck muscles to determine what pitch he was going to throw — no need to use cameras. (Speaking of Dusty, the Astros start their workouts a half-hour later, and were still going when we left, well after all the Nats’ formal drills were finished.)

There were bunting drills: they used the area where they do the Circle of Trust near the clubhouse. Just as we were leaving near lunchtime, after the formal drills were over, here came Max Scherzer out of the clubhouse, bat in hand, heading to the batting cages.

Max Scherzer bunting

Ryan Zimmerman got a ride back to the clubhouse after batting practice. Also, another WS logo.

Onto Friday in West Palm Beach!



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