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This is my idea of a workout!

Sunday, February 22, 2009 - Spring Training Workouts, Ft. Myers

Today was my chance to report to the Fort for Spring Training! I flew in last night, and got to the minor league complex with the first bus this morning. We had a great time, reinforcing my opinion that the Spring Training workouts are my favorite event of the year.

I set a new personal record with 11 autographs. I printed off an 8×10 of a photo I took of the team at last year’s workouts, and by the end of the day I had Jon Lester, Mark Kotsay, Julio Lugo, Justin Masterson, and Jed Lowrie. I also got an assortment of minor leaguers, from highly-rated prospect Michael Bowden to Adam Mills, #90, who was just called up to big league camp today. What’s fun is that we get the chance to talk to them as they sign. Although I usually freeze up when in the presence of Real Baseball Players, my mother told Bowden how she had seen him at a game with the Portland Sea Dogs in the rain last year, and he added, laughing, “It always rains in Portland.” Chris Carter saw my photo and said, “That’s from last year. I must be in there somewhere,” and I answered, “Yeah, you’re the one in the red jersey and the hat,” which of course didn’t narrow it down.

There are five fields at the minor league complex, and the players move around for different drills. Today I saw the outfielders catching fly balls on Field 1 and infielders fielding grounders and turning double plays on Field 3. Then they split up for live batting practice, with Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield, and Josh Beckett all throwing to various teammates.

Here are a few of the photos I took this morning:

Not content to settle for his eventual induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame, John Smoltz practices his football skills.

Not content to settle for his eventual induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame, John Smoltz practices his football skills.

Now, any website can bring you pictures of batting practice, or PFP, or any number of other drills. But who else besides your humble webmaster brings you important behind-the-scenes footage like this:

NESN's Tom Caron applies an entire can of hairspray during every commercial break.

NESN's Tom Caron applies an entire can of hairspray during every commercial break.

Jon Lester asks for my autograph.... or something like that...

Jon Lester asks for my autograph.... or something like that...

And finally, my favorite scene of the day. Big Papi and Julio Lugo both had their young sons with them. And when the players ended the workout with some parachute runs, both kids joined in.

If Julio and D'Angelo's dads so as well as they did, it's going to be a fun season

If Julio and D'Angelo's papis do as well as they did, it's going to be a fun season!

I know you folks reading this back home won’t want to hear it, but hey – my blog, my rules. The weather here is absolutely gorgeous. Mid-70’s – not too hot, not too cold, and sunny – enabling me to get started on that other summer ritual: my annual farmer’s tan.

I’m going to try to add a video to my report every day too. I was all set to show a clip of Tim Wakefield pitching to Josh Bard (who seemed like he was doing fine). But the parachute run was too cool, so I’ll end with Big Papi and his teammates preparing for takeoff:

Stay tuned tomorrow night for more from the Fort.

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