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Here Comes the Sun

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 – Ft. Myers

Today was the first day of the 2011 season for me, as I had the chance to head to the Red Sox workouts and finally get a look at the team I’ve spent all winter talking about and pining for.  As usual, we left early and arrived with the first bus of fans.  That gave us a good position to watch the players as they came out to take the field for practice.  The veteran players rarely ever sign autographs on their way out to the field, but the younger players seem happy to sign for people who actually know who they are.  So I was able to call over Michael Bowden, who we know from his time in the majors last year and spring trainings past, and Kyle Weiland, whom I recognized from last year’s PawSox Hot Stove Party and my annual Sea Dogs game.  Both players signed, and I even got to wish Weiland luck on Saturday, when he’ll be starting one of the college games.

I got Michael Bowden's autograph in the morning, but he came back at the end of practice and signed for quite a long time.

I got Michael Bowden's autograph in the morning, but he came back at the end of practice and signed for quite a long time.

After the players stretched together on Field 2, they broke up to work on defensive drills.  I watched a little Pitchers’ Fielding Practice and then checked out the infielders.  After that they broke into different groups for live batting practice.  I watched as John Lackey threw to Big Papi, Carl Crawford, and Kevin Youkilis.  It is a little conflicting to watch, because I’m rooting for both pitcher and hitter to do well.  As expected, none of the hitters really got ahold of any, and Lackey did have Crawford flailing at a couple of pitches.  Next up were Rich Hill and Stolmy Pimentel (who was named the starter for Saturday’s other college game), who threw to Jacoby Ellsbury, Marco Scutaro, Dustin Pedroia, and J.D. Drew.

Yoooouuuuk!

Yoooouuuuk!

Carl Crawford smiles before taking B.P.

Carl Crawford smiles before taking B.P.

When live B.P. wrapped up, Ino Guerrero and the other coaches came out to throw some nice big meatballs so the players could take their swings in regular batting practice.  As that wound down, we headed back up to the front of the complex to see the players as they came back off the fields.  There, I was lucky to get Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis to sign.  While I’m having the others sign a photo of City of Palms Park that I took last year, I got Youk’s on a picture of me with the 2007 World Series trophy that I’ve been carrying around with me ever since trying to get members from the Championship team.  After all the other players had gone in, Mike Cameron came back out and signed for quite a while for all the fans who were left.

Bonus pic:  I normally try not to use two pictures of the same player in a single post, but this one cracked me up so I had to share.  Is it a Jedi master?  Nope, just Youk signing autographs after a hot practice.

May the force be with Yoooouuuuu....

May the force be with Yoooouuuuu....

It was great to see baseball starting up again after a long and particularly snowy winter, and it was even better to see my favorite players who were injured last year back in action.  Topping it off was the perfectly warm and sunny weather, and we took advantage of that by spending the afternoon on Ft. Myers Beach.

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