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Signing in the Rain

Saturday, February 27, 2010 – Spring Training Workouts, Ft. Myers

My first day at the Red Sox minor league complex did not disappoint.  We arrived with the first bus just after 8 am, bundled up in sweatshirts and jackets because it was barely 50 degrees, and had a good spot to watch the players as they took the field.  I even managed to get Clay Buchholz’s autograph (along with his lesser-known teammates Tug Hulett, an infielder who has a cool name, and Gustavo Molina, who is a catcher but isn’t related to the other catching Molinas Bengie, Jose, and Yadier) as they made their way by.

After the whole team stretched out on Field 2, they split up to work on different drills.  My first stop was Field 3, where the infielders were practicing taking ground balls.  Mike Lowell split time between third and first, which is how he’ll likely be spending the coming season (hopefully with the Red Sox).  It was also my first chance to see newcomers Adrian Beltre at third, Marco Scutaro at shortstop, and Bill Hall at multiple positions.

Mike Lowell fields grounders at first base.

Mike Lowell fields grounders at first base.

Next I headed over to Field 4, where the pitchers were running through PFP.  In the following video, relievers Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Brian Shouse, Joe Nelson, Daniel Bard, Manny Delcarmen, and Ramon “The Original” Ramirez are practicing fielding bunts, while a group of starters (including Tim Wakefield and Boof Bonser) practice covering first in the background.

After that, it was back to Field 3, where the pitchers joined the infielders to do a series of drills involving covering bases during rundowns.  That’s when it first started to rain, and when the drill was over all the players started heading back up toward the clubhouse.  I was afraid they’d be spending the rest of the morning working out indoors, but it turns out they were just getting their bats, and the workout continued with live batting practice.

Dustin Pedroia finishes up a round of B.P. against Ramon Ramirez.

Dustin Pedroia finishes up a round of B.P. against Ramon Ramirez.

Most of the starters had thrown B.P. yesterday, so today I watched both Ramon Ramirezes, plus Randor Bierd and Adam Mills, pitching to their teammates.  I eventually found Jose Iglesias, the 20-year-old shortstop from Cuba who’s getting rave reviews on his defense, but he was in one of the hitting groups, so I didn’t get to see him field yet.

Youk takes a break between rounds of B.P.  He had no problem working upo a sweat despite the cold, rainy weather.

Youk takes a break between rounds of B.P. It was so cold that even he couldn't work up a sweat.

There were more small bursts of rain throughout the morning, and it never warmed up.  (Even when we got back out to the car at 12:30 it was still only 55°, which is by far the coldest it’s ever been at any of the workouts I’ve attended over the past 8 years.)  It was actually great weather… for a Fenway Park opener or a playoff game.

Tim Wakefield does an interview for the Japanese media.  Not sure what he was going for with this half-dressed outfit, though. Who does he think he is, Papelbon?

Tim Wakefield does an interview for the Japanese media. Not sure what he was going for with this half-dressed outfit, though. Who does he think he is, Papelbon?

We went back up near the clubhouse when the guys started to come off the field.  I was able to get Hideki Okajima’s autograph, and we held on through the increasing rain to get autographs from infielder Lars Anderson and outfielder Zach Daeges, too.  We really lucked out, because just as we got back to the car, the heavy rain started.  It was great they were able to get the whole practice in, even if the weather was more suited to Boston in April.  At least now we’ll all be ready for Opening Day!

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