Day 2 – The “Real” Games Start


So we got up early and were on the first shuttle again this morning. Tiny bit sore but nothing major.

Had breakfast, same as the day before, banana, scrambled eggs, home fries, some bacon and some melon. They also have cereal, yogurt and fruit like blueberries, apples, oranges and bananas. It’s enough(same and lunch) to keep you fed, but not fill you up completely, which is a huge advantage since no one really wants to see someone ralph out on the field somewhere.

So then we head out to take the group photo, that was a total mark of confusion to get a whhole bunch of people all together and organized enough for a picture, total mess, but it gone done. Then it was individual teams which went smoother.

Then it was off to morning stretching with Bill Lee wandering amongst all the campers and entertaining us with stories and goofy comments while we try to maintain our balance.

Then off to our field, we were on field #3 for the first game, all the minor leaguers were taking up Fields #1 and #2, so we got shifted to fields #3-5. We were up against “Thomas’ Tomahawks” coached by George Thomas and Al Bumbry.

We were the Home team so we took the field first. They sort of just divied up positions to start based on volunteers, I lucked out and got to be the Centerfield – Cue the Fogerty Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today; Look at me, I can be Centerfield.

Top half of the first was pretty easy going, I think we got one strike out and a few other quick grounders to finish off the inning with no problems.

Bottom half of the first we got some runners, and we scored a couple runs. I was batting 4th and grounded out to end the inning. Makes you wonder how we got a couple runs right? Well it’s because of the unique rules they play by here at camp. If a player walks(or gets hit), then a substitute runner goes to first base and they stay at the plate and get a clean 0-0 count. It the hitter walks(or gets hit) a second time, then they will go down to first base and a new batter comes to the plate.

Second inning was my inning, I was back in centerfield and feeling pretty good. First batter is up and cracks a high fly ball to left center field, closer to center than left so I get over and under it. I almost completely lose the ball in the sun but kinda remembered where it was and had my glove where I thought it would end up, and then at the last second I was able to see it as it came out of the sun and made a small adjustment to catch it. One down. Next hitter comes up and gets a walk. Hitter stays at the plate and a pich runner goes to first(see above). Then he hits a small blooper over second base into centner field. I charge the ball, pick it up and do a quick snap to second base, runner is out by way of the force play.

We had been told to play in more than out due to wind that was blowing at 10-12mph consistantly, and gusts were getting up to 20mph or so, and it was blowing in from right center, so any hits weren’t really going anywhere and were dying pretty quickly in the air. So I am playing in and shading to left center because it is a right hand hitter at the plate. CRACK fly ball to left centerfield. I misplayed the ball by taking a step in first instead of back and had to turn around and run to try to catch up with it, the ball drops in behind me. The grass on these outfields and the infields is some of the most beautiful grass I have ever seen, I will get a close up picture of it at some point, but it is pure perfection from one who appreciates Agrostology(you like that $10 word?).

So the ball sails over my head and hits the ground, fortunately the wonderful grass has a soft base and the ball doesn’t roll very far. I run, pick it up and turn to throw it back in. I am yelled at to throw it to second to keep the guy to a single. I ignored the yells and ripped a throw to third base since the runner from first was trying to stretch it to a 2 base advancement.

Our third baseman was 10 or so feet down the line towards home, I threw the ball and my aim put the ball about 5 feet down the line towards home, so he has to move towards third to catch hit, and he does and ends up tagging the guy coming from first base, that’s the third out! Innign over!!

The rest of the game was pretty uneventful for me in center, a few bloopers here and there, and I think 1 or 2 other catches, but we had some pretty good pitching and infield work on our team. They managed to turn 2 or 3 double plays and keep the other team to a total of 5 runs for the game. 2-3 of those runs were just because of miscommunication by not having played with each other ever before, but we got some of the kinks worked out in the first game, and we managed to win 11-5, with somewhere around 16 or 17 hits.

I had 2 more at bats in the game. I struck out my second time at the plate, I had picked up a bat that was 34in instead of the one I had been using before that was a 33in, I think the extra inch was slowing me down just enough to mess with my swing and it’s why I struck out. In my third and final at bat in the 6th inning, I fouled off the first pitch, took the second pitch as a ball, took the thrid pitch as a ball, and then ripped a nice long drive into righth center field and took off down the first base line. Theh right fielder was still running towards the ball when I rounded second base and Victor Rodriquez was yelling at me to “take two take two”, so I took too and moved my ass to second, I was thinking 3 but took a quick glance towards right and the right fielder was just picking up and throwing the ball in when I was about 15 feet from 2nd, so I held up with a 1 out stand up double. The next batter struck out leaving me at second. Then the next hitter(kenny I think) came up, fouled off a couple and then looped one just behind the first baseman and it dropped in, with 2 outs I was off with contact and headed around third base with Bob yelling at me to head home, so home I went and was able to slide in and make it safe, I am not sure if the throw got all the way in or if it was cut off, I was just concentrating on theh slide and picking myself back up.

I gotta say, it felt great to get that hit, I was 0fer in the evaluation game, and then 0fer my first 2 in this game, although the ground out to first felt good, I just didn’t get enough on it to poke it through down the line. I did score a couple other times in the game as a sub runner for people who walked. We had one guy who actually got hit with a pitch, right on his elbow so he was out the rest of that game, but he was able to play the second game with only a little trouble while hitting, but played some good first base.

So we finished up that game and headed in to the locker rooms for lunch and Jime Rice. Lunch was pork loin, roasted potatoes, green beans and then salad. I skipped the green beans since I won’t eat them under almost any circumstances. The salad is pretty decent actually, they have this dressing which is made from olive oil, a hint of vinegar, chives, scallions, cilantro, a hint of red pepper flakes and some garlic. Yes, I asked what it was made from because I liked it the day before and needed to know what it was. Threw that back with a couple small gatorades and a water.

Prior to getting my lunch, I got in line for autographs with Jim Rice, I got my bat and the mini-helmet signed by him, then went and put them in my locker and took off my game shirt and went to go get lunch. We were reminded that we were limited to 2 items to get signend while we were in line, but I grabbed 2 cards while I was back at my locker and put them in my pocket. When I was down getting my lunch I looked behind me and there were only 3 people in line, so I took my lunch with me and walked over and got back into line. I joked a little when I got up to Jim and held out my lunch and asked him to make out the pork to Ned, but he didn’t look amused so I just put down the cards, he paused, looked at them and then signed them and gave em back to me with a small smile, but no words. He didn’t really talk to many people, other than the pros who he already knew. This was a stark contrast to Frank Viola from the day before who would talk to anyone about anything and liked to share stories.

So our afternoon game was our “Big Game” over at City of Palms Park on the “Big Field”, meaning the main field where the Red Sox play their Spring Training games. It was so cool, to walk onto the field, thru the players entrance, past the bullpen area and down the warning track to theh dugout. We were theh home team so we were on the scoreboard as “Red Sox” and the other team was listed as “Visitor”. They announced our name and number over the loudspeakers each time we went up to bat.

The afternoon games are pitched by the coaches instead of by the players. So we had Victor pitching to us, and then the team we were playing(Lee’s Lefties) was pitched to by their Coach, Bill Lee. Joe has been our catcher so far, and he was incredibly excited because he got to catch Bill Lee for 7 innings this afternoon. Granted the pitches being thrown to his team while they were at bat were basic straight down the middle batting practice fastballs, he was throwing some wild and crazy curves and such during warm up, so Joe informed us that we were in for a lot of strike outs and maybe foul or ground balls when we play against the Pros and Lee is pitching.

This was a tough game, we ended up playing the game to a tie and had to end it with a 2-2 tie. To mock Tom Hanks from A League Of Their Own(in a whiney, exasperated sounding voice) “THERE’S NO TYING IN BASEBALL”. I wasn’t very good at the plate. Fisted one off the handle at my first at bat and popped out to sort, and then another one off the handle down to first base

I played Right Field in this game instead of center. Joe has a theory that I might be our best outfielder, and there were a lot of lefties on “Lee’s Lefties” so right field was going to be important. It turned out to be the case when I made 2 catches in the first inning for 2 outs. I also made a couple more random catchehs, as well as having a few balls go over my head because I keep stepping in first instead of out first, but I was able to make some pretty good throws into second to hold the runner to third, and even to first once. I then sat out the 5th and 6th innings and someone else went into right field. The right fielder then had some trouble in the 6th inning because of position & sun which made him miss a fly ball, which allowed them to score the tying run.

We couldn’t do much in the bottom of the 6th and then went into the 7th and the right fielder excused himself and asked me to go back in. I went in and we got a solid 1, 2, 3 inning and then went in to bat. Joe led off the inning with a great double, but he ended up stranded at 3rd base when a batter struck out, got a single, and then hit into a double play.

Close, but no cigar. It was a great game though. We were talking to our coach Victor who is the roaming hitting coach for the entire Red Sox Minor League System, so he travels all around to all the different minor league teams and helps out the younger guys learn to bat better. We are planning on hitting the cages first thing tomorrow morning with him nice and early to see if we can work on a couple of things to help our hitting get a little better. Although, on a positive note, we ended the game with 15 hits to the other teams 5, so we were getting the hits, we just couldn’t get the guys in and accross the plate, so it is promising for future games.

So we hit the bus and headed back to the PDC. When we got back we were at the lockers and someone came and mentioned that Jim Rice was still there and was taking pictures with people. So we grabbed our cameras and headed down to the conference room to get em, I took them of Joe, while he took them of me. So I have a picture with Jim Rice. He really wasn’t into it though, and was talking more with Monty who was sitting next to him, but who cares, we got the pictures.

Then I headed down to the locker, got changed out of my uniform and put on some shorts, walked out and picked up a gatorade, a couple granola bars and then headed to the training room. My groin and my quads were aching, along with my shoulder a little bit too. I was headed to the ice bath. I had to wait in line about a half an hour, but it was well worth it, I submerged myself in the 45 degree water up to just over my waist for about 10 minutes, while sitting on a milk crate – they are pretty high tech here with things. Fortunately it wasn’t an ice bath like in Major League with the outboard motor going in it. The training staff was even nice enough to dump a bucket of ice into the tub to make it colder while I was in it. Then for the last 5 minutes in the tub I submerged myself from the neck down so my shoulder could get some of the cold on it. It was really only cold for the first 2 or 3 minutes and then it really started working itself into my muscles. I would call it pure heaven really, especially if you know how much I actually enjoy the cold most of the time.

So from the ice bath to the hot shower and then off to do the final pack up to head out. Got UL Washington to sign my mini-helmet while talking to him about random stuff, asked him about Terry Francona since he played with him up in Montreal in 1985. Also got some info about Barry Bonds from him as well since UL was with him for 2 years in Pittsburgh. I won’t go into details, but he isn’t a fan of Barry to say the least.

So we got bqack to the hotel and sorta hobbled in after the van ride and tightning up, we dropped the stuff off at the room and then decided to just go downstairs again and get something simple for dinner. We got to witness “Free Bingo” night at the hotel restaurant, with the intermission entertainment of the 75 or so year old guy playing his harmonica for people.

Then joe headed upstairs and I headed to Walgreens. I got some Advil, some Mineral Ice, and some Icy Hot.

Then I wrote this blog entry… now I am off to sort through 300 or so pictures for some to upload…

yes, I am sore, yes it hurts, yes I really should have prepared more, yes I totally use too many commas and have poor grammar, but for what I was expecting to be a 8 or maybe a 9 on the 1-10 awesome scale, this is by far a 14 or a 15 on that scale. Especially the game over at City of Palms, I am still trying to figure out what the awesome scale is going to hit later this summer when I go and play a game at Fenway Park.

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