March 2012

Spring Training Day 5 photo gallery

Pics from Fort Myers. It’s really an impressive facility.


Kevin Youkilis fields a ball in infield practice.


Mark Melancon works during PFPs.


Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz during infield practice


Gonzalez and Ortiz have a chat.


Jarrod Saltalamacchia fields a throw during bunt drills.


The view from above the left-field line at JetBlue Park


The Green Monster, Florida edition


The view from right beside the Monster



Spring Training Day 4 notes (and a few photos): Reunion

Spring Training is long enough that any time an automatic angle offers itself to you, you take it. Today in Port Charlotte for the game between the Rays and Orioles, two such angles intertwined. The talk of both managers’ pregame sessions centered on two topics: last year’s Game 162s, and Luke Scott.

It was the O’s of course who beat the Red Sox to knock Boston out of the postseason last fall, and this was obviously the first meeting between the clubs since then. And Scott, well known as a colorful, outspoken, politically opinionated fellow, moved from the O’s to the Rays over the winter.

So, before a few photos, a few notes from a couple of pretty entertaining manager scrums. For more hard-news baseball, of course, check out and, where our beat writers are all over that stuff. I filed a column on the Rays offense that should be up at the Tampa Bay team site too.

* The Rays were wearing University of South Florida t-shirts in batting practice, and manager Joe Maddon also had on a USF hat. It was in support of the school’s bid for an NCAA basketball tournament bid.

It was pointed out to Maddon that Vanderbilt alum David Price was wearing a hat from his school to go with the USF hat, and Maddon said that was OK with him:

“At least he wore the t-shirt,” he said with a smile. “That’s all I can say on that.”

* Maddon also said that while he doesn’t necessarily agree with everything that Scott espouses, he’s found Scott to be engaging and interesting, and that’s enough for him.

“I want them to be free to express themselves and what they think, always. I find him interesting. Whether I agree with him or not doesn’t matter. I just find him interesting and other people should find him interesting too. He’s a great teammate. Go ask Baltimore what they think of losing Luke Scott in their clubhouse. He’s been that guy. That kind of stuff I don’t think it should matter, although to some people it will, just because some people think in that manner.”

Asked about Scott’s fondness for hunting and firearms, Maddon said he has no weapons but “a really nasty looking broom,” and said that while he’s not a hunter, he has no problem with those who are.

“I’m really respectful of that. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. It’s something that I would never do obviously, but that fact is an indication that you’d like to have him on your team, I think. A wild boar shows up in our clubhouse, we’re in good shape.”

* O’s manager Buck Showalter likewise expressed his fondness for Scott, repeatedly emphasizing what a good teammate Scott is — while also noting with a laugh that you never, ever wonder where you stand with Scott, and that one would be advised not to ask Scott any questions to which you don’t want to hear an answer.

* Monday was Baltimore’s first day of Grapefruit League games, and the O’s had a split-squad day-night doubleheader. It’s not ideal, but Showalter expressed his gratitude to the Pirates for accommodating Baltimore’s request to play at night. That at least allowed him and the coaching staff to attend both games.

* And as for the matter of his team playing hard to the end, and upending the Red Sox, he appreciated the compliment but didn’t see his team as doing anything really out of the ordinary.

“I’m really proud of the way Tampa went about their business [as well]. They had to win too. Is there supposed to be another way? It should be the norm.”

I’m headed for Red Sox camp in the morning, and I’m eager to see the new ballpark there. No playlist today, but I wanted to pass along three albums that I’m really enjoying. Picked them all up for this trip, and I’m 3-for-3, which is a rare rate of success. Noel Gallagher, formerly of Oasis, has an album with his band High-Flying Birds. I enjoy it more than anything from Oasis in a very long time. Cloud Nothings’ “Attack On Memory” is hard to describe but really fantastic, loud and evocative and worth finding. And School Of Seven Bells’ “Ghostory” is I guess sort of ethereal electronic pop. Sometimes I hate trying to describe music. All really solid, and any minute now the new Springsteen will be out.

And now for a few photos:


Rays manager Joe Maddon donned a University of South Florida t-shirt and cap for batting practice.


Orioles prospect Manny Machado signs some autographs.


The end of a beautiful day at Charlotte Sports Park


Spring Training day 2: Photos from Cardinals camp

I wasn’t able to snap as many photos today, but here are a few. Yes, that’s three of Erik Komatsu, but I liked the way those pictures came out so I included them. Hope you enjoy.


Jason Motte delivers a pitch in live batting practice.


Motte, manager Mike Matheny, and catcher Steven Hill confer after Motte's live BP session.


Kolten Wong gets ready for a pitch in batting practice.


Erik Komatsu prepares to swing in batting practice.


Komatsu swings.


Komatsu's follow-through

Spring Training day 2: Back in the old stomping grounds

It was really, really nice to be back at Cardinals camp today, seeing familiar faces, treading familiar ground and of course having lunch at Pyrogrill. The Cards even worked out inside the stadium, so I got to set foot in there one more time. Definitely a treat. Headed to Viera tomorrow, and then over to the western coast of Florida after that.

A few nuggets from today’s camp. If you want more details, head over to for David Villavicencio’s notebook. David filled in for Jenifer Langosch, who received a well-earned day off.

* As I was walking back from watching some of the prospects take BP, I saw a curious sight on Field 1. There were three people on the entire field: Minor League pitching coaches Dennis Martinez and Blaise Ilsley, and Adron Chambers. Martinez would mimic a pitching motion, Chambers would take a jump from first to second, and then they would confer.

It turns out Chambers was working on his jumps, and specifically on getting down the exact number of strides to get to and from various places on the basepath. He’s also been working with Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee on base-stealing technique.

“It’s good to know how many strides does it take me to get to the base,” Chambers said. “So when I’m stealing, I can understand, OK, it took me three strides to get right there where I wanted to get. So in my head I can feel good. That’s just what I’m trying to do. Trying to get a jump and then understand how long it takes me to get to that spot. And then once I figure it out, try to get there as fast as I can.”

* Chris Carpenter was, as usual, not all that chatty about his live BP session. Carpenter can be a fascinating, thoughtful guy when you get him sitting down, but in Spring Training he often doesn’t have a lot to say. He made one rather interesting point this afternoon, though.

Though Carpenter doesn’t often throw a four-seam fastball in games, he’s throwing only four-seamers at this point. The idea is that he first trains himself to locate the four-seamer in certain “lanes,” as he put it. You throw it to those points, locate it, and then you start cutting and sinking the ball. For him, throwing a cutter or sinker to a spot at this point is not necessarily valuable because you end up aiming at the wrong place. Throw the straight one, to a spot, and then start worrying about making it move.

* A much shorter version of this quote appears in the story I just filed to on Yadier Molina’s contract, but here’s the whole thing. I asked Mike Matheny about whether catching gets more draining/grinding/difficult as you get into your 30s, and he said it doesn’t have to be.

“I think I had my best season at 35, so it depends on how you go about your business. It depends on being blessed with health and staying on top of it. I’ve got to tell you, he’s worked harder this year than I’ve ever seen him work. There’s just something about some people. No matter how much they’re acknowledged, how many things they acquire as far as trophies on the mantel, their motivation is bigger than that. Every once in a while you come across that. I think those guys are special, and Yadi to me has been one of those guys. I think we’re going to continue to see great things from him for a long time. It’s just a matter of his body cooperating.”

* One newsy tidbit: Matheny confirmed that Shelby Miller will start Wednesday, and Adam Wainwright’s first game will be on Friday in Fort Myers.

And, finally, the playlist. Today’s is a day late, but it’s a tribute to one of my all-time favorite bands. Yesterday was the 19th anniversary of Living Colour’s amazing, challenging third album, “Stain.” So the playlist is five favorites from that album:

“Go Away”
“Never Satsfied”

-M. (photos to come)

Spring Training Day 1: Photos from Marlins camp

Here are some photos from today at Marlins camp…


Mark Buehrle throws a pitch in live batting practice


On a generally pretty day, the skies threatened for a little while.


Hall of Famer Tony Perez watches the workout.


Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen looks on as his team practices.


Hanley Ramirez gets in place for a bunt drill.


Heath Bell lets a pitch go in live BP.


Another of Heath Bell throwing in live BP.


Catcher John Buck squeezes a pitch.


Jose Reyes watches a pitch approach in live BP.


Hanley Ramirez takes a ball in live BP.

Spring Training Day 1: Planet Jupiter and the Ozzie Show

Greetings from my old stomping grounds, Jupiter, Fla. I checked out Marlins camp today and I’ll be over on the Cardinals side tomorrow. A little later today, I’ll be posting some photos I took, but in the meantime, some tidbits…

* Hanley Ramirez had a rough live BP session facing Alex Sanabia. One of the first pitches he saw was up and in, caught him on the shoulder and knocked him down. He was fine, and stayed in. A little later, he broke a bat on a ball he hit into left field.

* Jose Reyes appears, from today’s sampling, to be THE guy among Marlins fans. He has a gallery like a star golfer. When he goes from one field to another, the crowd follows. And, I might say, understandably so. There aren’t many players who are actually fun to watch practice, but Reyes is one of them.

* Mark Buehrle was among the guys who threw live BP, as were Heath Bell and hard-throwing lefty Mike Dunn.

* And, of course, I got to sit in on the Ozzie Guillen Show. It is, in fact, that entertaining. Much of it simply can’t be put up here, not even paraphrased or with …’s. Ozzie works blue. A few nuggets from his session…

* Talking about games starting very soon: “[That’s when] the good things start. This is boring. That’s the fun. It’s fun to see people compete.”

* On Ramirez playing third base, and the fact that Ramirez is finding that the ball gets on you a lot quicker at third base than at shortstop: “Good. You don’t have a chance to think. Just grab it and throw it.”

* On retiring managers: “I wish I could do like Tony [La Russa]. Win a championship and go home. That’s awesome.”

* On tomorrow’s fan event in Miami: “We lead the league in fan fests.”


For more and better Marlins news, you should of course check and Joe Frisaro’s blog and twitter feed.