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Monday, February 24, 2014 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers

Spring Training Workout

My second day in The Fort brought me back to JetBlue Park for another day of Red Sox workouts.  There were a lot more fans than there had been on Sunday, as a new group of vacationers had flown down over the weekend.  But that didn’t stop me from taking over 300 pictures again (many of which feature Mike Napoli’s beard – I find it hard to concentrate on anything else when he’s around) and pick up a few more autographs.

Mike Napoli Daily Beard Update: The beard known as the "The Siesta" glistens in the Florida sun. Caution - don't stare directly at it; you'll hurt your eyes.

Mike Napoli Daily Beard Update: The beard known as the "The Siesta" glistens in the Florida sun. Caution - don't stare directly at it; you'll hurt your eyes.

The first drill we watched was called 4-bagger, and it featured players starting at second base and running to either third or home, depending on where the coaches hit the ball.  Then they did one of my favorites to watch – the sliding drill.  It looks like a Slip-n-Slide without the water, and they all look very silly as they get a big running start and then slide onto a giant baggie.  I managed to get a video of the proceedings:

After that, we watched the pitchers go through PFP for a while.  After fielding comebackers batted by coaches, they started working on pickoff plays to first and third.  As I watched Koji Uehara spin and throw to first, I had an October flashback, leading me to comment, “You never know when you’re going to need that play to end a World Series game,” since that was the weird way in which Game 4 ended last year.

Koji Uehara had high-fives for David Ross and the rest of his teammates after throwing live B.P.

It's Koji time! Uehara had high-fives for David Ross and the rest of his teammates after throwing live B.P.

Next we watched a few rounds of live B.P., in which hitters face their own teammates rather than balls served up by coaches.  There were live B.P. sessions going on on four different fields, and I chose to watch Koji throw to Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia.  Napoli actually knocked a few over the fence, but Koji pretty much kept both hitters flailing.  When the session was over, he shared his customary high-fives to the other players, and then was wrapped in a big hug by Napoli.

Newly-acquired setup man Edward Mujica thre live B.P. to David Ortiz and Mike Carp.

Newly-acquired setup man Edward Mujica threw live B.P. to David Ortiz and Mike Carp.

I also got to watch Felix Doubront, Drake Britton, and newcomer Edward Mujica, who closed for the Cardinals for much of last year and projects to be a set-up man here, in their live batting practice sessions.

Brandon Snyder signs autographs.

Brandon Snyder signs autographs.

My strategy for trying to get autographs on the more crowded days is to focus on the lesser-known players and look for places where there are no other fans.  I noticed one group of young players on a back field while everyone else seemed to be watching for Big Papi and the other stars.  I knew they’d have to walk past me when they were done, and while some of them went out the back to a different field, Brandon Snyder did come by.  My mother and I were easily able to call him over, and I asked him to sign a photo of me with the World Series trophy, since he had played in 27 games for the Red Sox last summer.  He looked at the picture and said, “Cool!  I don’t even have a picture with the trophy.”  My mother replied, “But you’re getting a ring,” to which he broke out in a big smile.  He then added that he had just had a baby girl last October, and was focusing on getting pictures of her.  To me, the chance to actually interact with a player is a much more fun autograph to get than getting one of the bigger names in a long impersonal line or a crazy mob.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. is having fun in camp, and so am I.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is having fun in camp, and so am I.

We wrapped up the day with autographs from a couple of other minor leaguers, including third baseman Garin Cecchini, who’s one of the top prospects in the organization.  With the weather as gorgeous as it was, we spent the afternoon in Ft. Myers Beach, topping off a perfect day with a soft serve orange ice cream at Sun Harvest Citrus.

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