Spring Training, Day 14: Morning comes early
It wasn’t quite full daylight yet when I hopped in the trusty rental car for the trip from Greater Disneyburg to Lakeland, thanks to the time change. Not that I’m complaining, as I’m one who greatly appreciates extra daylight in the evening, but it was a bit odd. Everybody around the ballpark seemed to be moving a bit more slowly today.
Well, everyone except Bryce Harper. I’ve said this before, but the guy is just tremendously fun to watch doing just about anything on a baseball field. This year, though, he does look a little different.
Which is to say, he’s bigger. He looks like he’s growing into an adult’s body. More weight, but I’d swear he’s also even taller. Dude is just big.
And holy cow does he put on a show in BP. He’s one of those guys, like has been said about Pujols, that the ball just sounds different when he hits it. I saw him hit three BP homers today — all of them to the left side of center, one of them to left-center, and all of them well up the berm behind the fence. Even the single he hit was scorched.
None of this, of course, means he’s going to have a great year in actual Major League games that matter. But the more I see him, the more I get the hype. The tools are ungodly. The presence is IMO undeniable. Obviously any number of things could go wrong, because this is a difficult game. But I think nearly any prop bet you offered me on Harper’s 2013 season, and his career, I’d take the over. I’m a full buy.
Today’s game in a nutshell: Rick Porcello was very sharp again, Dan Haren got no help from his defense, and the Tigers held on for a 2-1 win. There were a total of 11 hits and 3 walks in the entire game.
Quote of the day: “I’m the oldest starting pitcher. I throw by far the slowest. I’m the second-best hitting pitcher.” — Haren, asked how the Nationals differ from the other teams for which he’s pitched. (And for those unaware, he’s used to being BETTER than the 2nd-best hitting pitcher, not worse)
Player of the day: We have our first two-time winner. Porcello was very impressive once again, going five shutout innings with three hits, no walks, and four strikeouts.
Miles driven: 38 so far today, 1,288 for the trip
Roadside sight of the day: As I pulled onto I-4 this morning, I saw a hot air balloon. And then another. And then two more. In total, 11 balloons dotting the sky of the Kissimmee-Lake Buena Vista-Celebration-Disneyburg area. Apparently it’s a daily thing, or at least a regular thing, and you can buy rides. Quite a sight. No, I didn’t take a picture. I was going 75 mph.
Starbucks visits: 1 for the day, 14 for the trip
Up next: I see the Nats again tomorrow, this time at home against the Braves. It’s Stephen Strasburg against Paul Maholm, hopefully the first of many Nats-Braves games I cover in 2013.
And, finally, the playlist:
It was definitely a wake-me-up kind of morning on the car stereo on the way over…
The Virginmarys, “Takin’ The Blame”
The Bronx, “Pilot Light”
Free Energy, “Electric Fever”
Rancid, “Roots Radical”
Social Distortion, “Story Of My Life”