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Greeting the G.O.A.T.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers

Spring Training Workout

We had heard that the players would be attending a Players’ Association meeting in the morning so they would be taking the field later than usual.  We ended up timing it perfectly, so that we arrived just as the players were starting to take the field.  We quickly spotted Jason Varitek among the coaches and special instructors, and heard whispers that Pedro Martinez had been spotted earlier before fans were allowed in.  Sure enough, as I was watching the players come out and looking for my favorites, my all-time favorite and one of the Greatest Of All Time came and joined the coaches right in front of where I was standing.

Two of my favorites: Pedro and Dewey. Both serve as special instructors who work with the young players during Spring Training.

Two of my favorites: Pedro and Dewey. Both serve as special instructors who work with the young players during Spring Training.

Another favorite from the past, the Captain, Jason Varitek, is another special instructor. Later in the day, he threw batting practice too.

Another favorite from the past, the Captain, Jason Varitek, is also a special instructor. Later in the day, he threw batting practice too.

Pedro came out and hugged a bunch of players and coaches, and when the stretching was over and the players dispersed for their various drills, I knew I wanted to watch whatever Pedro was watching.  He smiled as fans called out to him while he walked between fields, and he ended up with a group of major league pitchers on Field 5.

Pedro smiles as he moves between fields.

Pedro smiles as he moves between fields.

Pedro watched as the players long-tossed down the right field line on Field 5.

Pedro watched as the players long-tossed down the right field line on Field 5.

When the players took the field for Pitchers’ Fielding Practice, Pedro disappeared into the bullpens that are hidden from sight between the fields.  We couldn’t see who was throwing, but we knew whoever it was would be in good hands.

Heath Hembree fields a ball as the other pitchers look on in PFP.

Heath Hembree fields a ball as the other pitchers look on in PFP.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright waits his turn at PFP.

Knuckleballer Steven Wright waits his turn at PFP.

Tyler Thornburg, Drew Pomeranz, and Joe Kelly wait in line for their turn. First they all practiced fielding a balla dn throwing to first base, then to second base, then to third, and then to home.

Tyler Thornburg, Drew Pomeranz, and Joe Kelly wait in line for their turn. First they all practiced fielding a ball and throwing to first base, then they repeated the drill throwing to second base, then to third, and then to home.

After the pitchers finished their drill, batting practice started up. While Hanley Ramirez waited for his teammates to arrive, a fan shouted out that she liked his hair. That prompted an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Hanley.

After the pitchers finished their drill, batting practice started up. While Hanley Ramirez waited for his teammates to arrive, a fan (I swear it wasn't me) shouted out that she liked his hair. That prompted an enthusiastic thumbs-up from Hanley.

On an adjacent field, David Price threw live B.P.  Rick Porcello also threw today.

On an adjacent field, David Price threw live B.P. Rick Porcello also threw today.

As the final rounds of batting practice took place, we staked out a spot between two of the fields in the hopes of catching some of the players coming in as they finished.  The pitching-centric day continued, as we ended up getting autographs from relievers Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross (who smiled when I told him that I enjoyed watching him catch home run balls in the bullpen), and Heath Hembree.  We waited in that spot for quite a while as the players came in, knowing that Number 45, as he calls himself, was still out there watching the remaining drills.

When most of the players had finished up, Pedro did come through the area where we were, and he stayed a long time to sign autographs for many people.  He was there for more than 45 minutes, and we could tell he was enjoying interacting with the fans.  It was near the end that he finally got to me, but it was fun seeing how excited everyone got and just being in the presence of one of the all-time greats.  When it was my turn, I told him how we had gone to Cooperstown for his Hall of Fame induction.

Pedro poses for a picture in between autographs.

Pedro poses for a picture in between autographs.

After practice, we went back to Siesta Key Beach, stopping on the way at Nokomis Groves for an orange ice cream.

It was another beautiful day at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota.

It was another beautiful day at Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota.

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