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Goodbye Edison Road

Friday, February 25, 2011 – Ft. Myers

Friday morning brought the final Red Sox workout of the spring before games start up.  And with a new stadium and practice facility set to open across town next spring, it meant this was my last day ever at the current player development complex at the end of Edison Rd.  The workout was scheduled to end an hour earlier than usual so that the players could take part in a charity golf tournament in the afternoon, and as a result they started about a half-hour earlier.

Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis share a laugh on the way out to practice.

Jonathan Papelbon and Kevin Youkilis share a laugh on the way out to practice.

On the way out, we got Felix Doubront, Stolmy Pimentel (whom I was able to wish good luck in his start in Saturday’s game), and Daniel Bard to sign autographs.  While Bard was signing, Lou Merloni, the former Red Sox infielder who now works for Comcast Sports Net, came over to chat with him.  I didn’t catch the beginning of the conversation, but Lou thanked him for doing an interview yesterday, and the two joked about how Bard looks like a member of some band (didn’t hear who) and how the rest of his teammates were teasing him about it and saying he’d have to make a decision soon whether to pursue baseball or music.  These glimpses into the players’ lives and the clubhouse dynamics is what makes the workouts so special, and I hope the closeness and accessibility that the current place affords is not lost when they move to the new facility next year.  It was kind of fitting to see Merloni and Bard together this morning.  Bard ended up being the last autograph I got at the old complex, and Lou was among the first I got on my first trip to spring training back in 2003.

I can't wait to have Jacoby back in the lineup this year.

I can't wait to see Jacoby back in the lineup (not to mention in the field and on the basepaths) this year!

After the players did their stretching, I went to Field 1 to watch the outfielders because I hadn’t seen their drills yet this year.  After some long-tossing, they formed two lines, one in left field and one in center.  Using a pitching machine, first base coach Ron Johnson shot balls into the gap.  The fielders ran in from left and center yelling “I got it, I got it!” until the catch was made, and then switched lines so they could practice going from the other angle.  I’m happy to report that everything went smoothly with this set of fielders, and no one ended up with broken ribs.

Big Papi was his usual merry self.

Big Papi was his usual merry self.

When fielding practice was over it was time for an abbreviated batting practice.  I went over to Field 5 to watch the starters take their B.P., and got more chances to see the team chemistry and light-heartedness at work.  First of all, Dustin Pedroia really is as loud, confident, and funny as he seems.  When he first walked onto the field, a photographer was crouched down, clicking away.  Pedroia joked, “Hey, what are you doing taking all these pictures without looking at the camera?  You just got a picture of my shin!  Where’d you go to school to learn how to do that?  Arizona State?”  But the photographer got the last laugh.  He said, “It makes you look taller if I shoot from down here.  You’re going to look like Paul Bunyan.”  (In fact, his teammates like to give all the trash-talking right back to him.  All week during fielding practice when Terry Francona was hitting grounders to him to field, Tito would yell, “OK, Pee-Wee, here it comes” before each one shot Pedroia’s way.)  Pedey then turned his attention to Kevin Youkilis, who had just hit a ball a long way to left where it got knocked down by the wind and died on the warning track.  Dustin shouted, “That’s OK, there’s only a few people who can hit one out into a wind like that…. And I’m one of them!”  Meanwhile, when Youk finished taking his swings, he spied J.D. Drew sitting on a water cooler awaiting his turn.  This is the final year of Drew’s contract, and some of the papers have recently started speculating whether he will retire or seek another contract.  Youk started teasing, “J.D., where you gonna play next year?  The St. Paul Saints?  Washington Nationals?  Now batting, J.D. Drew!”

Batting practice itself was really short, and then the players came in.  It’s a little sad that the workouts are over now, but I’m excited to get the games underway tomorrow.  It’s all taking me one step closer to Opening Day!

Bonus pics from the past three days of workouts:

On Thursday, representatives from various shoe companies visited the clubhouse to demo their wares for the players.  Adrian Gonzalez kept switching between a couple of different pairs of cleats.  In this photo, D’Angelo Ortiz returns with one pair of Gonzo’s shoes, while Adrian switches to another.  (On Friday we saw that he had chosen to go with the gray ones.)

Adrian Gonzalez has some big shoes to fill.

Li'l Papi has some big shoes to fill.

Also on Thursday, the relievers got comfortable in one of the staff’s golf carts during a break in the action:

Daniel Bard (left), Dan Wheeler (in back), and Jonathan Papelbon (right) make themselves comforatable while waiting for the next drill to start.

Daniel Bard (left), Dan Wheeler (in back), and Jonathan Papelbon (right) make themselves comfortable while waiting for the next drill to start.

On Friday, NESN was concluding their two-week coverage of Red Sox workouts.  I had been watching their shows at home before I flew down, and each night they would ask the players they interviewed to participate in the “Second Base Cup”, a golfing competition to see who could hit the ball closest to the second base bag from the NESN desk in right field.  I haven’t had access to NESN since I’ve been in Florida, but when I left Kevin Youkilis was the leader.  After practice on Friday, we saw Tom Caron presenting a trophy to Youk, and I quickly figured out that he had been crowned champion of the Second Base Cup.  (Here’s the link to the video they were filming.)

Kevin Youkilis is the winner of NESN's Second Base Cup.  Let's hope that in October he's hoisting an even bigger trophy!

Kevin Youkilis is the winner of NESN's Second Base Cup. Let's hope that in October he's hoisting an even bigger trophy!

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