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The Boys Are Back

Sunday, February 23, 2014 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers

Spring Training Workouts

It was a welcome respite from winter just to step into a land of warmth and humidity.  The past two months have been colder and snowier than usual in New England, and just two weekends after standing outside Fenway Park in 18° weather bundled up in all my warmest garb to see the equipment truck depart, I was happy to make my own journey to Fenway South, the Spring Training home of the Red Sox.  Summer was in full swing, with temps up into the 80’s.  (I even got the beginnings of my annual farmer’s tan – I think the last time I was outside in short sleeves was the unseasonably warm day of the Rolling Rally last November.)  Here in southwest Florida, the boys of summer were back and intent on defending their crown.

Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia are already (beard-wise) in mid-season form.

Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia already have their beards in mid-season form.

It was fun to see the players back in action, and I love the chance to get close and interact with them, which is what makes the Spring Training workouts one of my favorite events of the year.  We got to see all the usual drills – PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice), run-down drills for the infielders and pitchers, live B.P. (when pitchers throw to their own teammates), and regular batting practice (thrown by coaches).  Big Papi was especially impressive – he hit several long shots over the fence and off the roof of the batting cages beyond.

I'm expecting big things from Xander Bogaerts this year, as he takes over as the everyday shortstop.

I'm expecting big things from Xander Bogaerts this year, as he takes over as the everyday shortstop.

Unlike past years, there was no set area where all the players had to go to enter or leave the fields, so there was no way to plan any autograph seeking.  However, I had really good luck catching players as they walked from one field to another.  I found that if I was in a less-crowded area and was the only one around who asked, most were happy to oblige, especially the minor leaguers who were happy to have someone know who they were.  By the end of the day I wound up with autographs ranging from Jonny Gomes (who signed a picture of me with the 2013 trophy) to newcomers Grady Sizemore and Chris Capuano to non-roster invitee Heiker Meneses.  I also got many close-up photos of the players in action, my favorites of which are shared below.

Notable in its absence was Jonny Gomes' beard. RIP, "The Ironsides", at least (as Jonny says) you went out a champion.

Notable in its absence was Jonny Gomes' beard. RIP, "The Ironsides", at least (as Jonny says) you went out a champion.

Four first basemen during infield practice - Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and David Ortiz.

Four first basemen during infield practice - Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp, and David Ortiz.

Newcomer A.J. Pierzynski and the other catchers had a busy day. They get double duty, participating in fielding practice, catching bullpen sessions and live batting practice, and then taking their own B.P.

Newcomer A.J. Pierzynski and the other catchers had a busy day. They get double duty, participating in fielding practice, catching bullpen sessions and live batting practice, and then taking their own B.P.

I'm intrigued by some of the young pitchers the Sox have in camp. I saw Matt Barnes throw live B.P. to David Ortiz and Mike Carp today, and I look forward to seeing Henry Owens (pictured here) in one of the college games later in the week.

I'm intrigued by some of the young pitchers the Sox have in camp. I watched Matt Barnes throw live B.P. to David Ortiz and Mike Carp today, and I look forward to seeing Henry Owens (pictured here) in one of the college games later in the week.

The last players to leave the field were Ryan Lavarnway and Will Middlebrooks, who stayed long after everyone else had gone in to practice fielding grounders.  Middlebrooks stayed even longer to sign for the dozen or so fans who were left, and then it was time for us to head home.  But we’ll be back tomorrow for another fun morning of baseball and sun.

One Response to “The Boys Are Back”

  1. Greg C - February 24th, 2014

    Enjoy your time in Florida — perhaps we’ll see you on Opening Day…!

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