An Official Start
It’s been a while since I posted something, and that’s partly because I was in the middle of my last post when I went out to meet some people and left my post unsaved. When I came back, I found that my computer had run a bunch of updates and restarted so I lost the whole post, BUMMER! That post was going to talk about last week, while I was completing my second week of optional pre camp workouts, and was joined by my mom and my sister who came over to spend three days with me. It was awesome to have some company, and some people to hang out with every night while they were here and as always there were the normal Maxx/Molly incredibly stupid, laughing at nothing moments, during which Mom just bursts out laughing at us. We had some great dinners at Captain Curt’s, the little seafood joint down the road, they got to see a few workouts and it was a very good week.
Thursday of this week we had an early morning BP only practice after which we cleaned out our temporary lockers, and put all our gear into boxes that would be loaded into our Spring Training lockers by the clubhouse staff. We hit from 9-10 in the morning, and then I met up with Mom and Molly for brunch before they got on the road. I spent most of Thursday afternoon cleaning up the house, turning off lights, fans and other switches, and “closing” the place down according to the instructions I was given by my aunt Charlene. I grabbed a quick dinner and went out with some friends that night up in Longboat Key. It was a pretty nice, easy going night and even included a really nice walk on the beach and a much debated “shooting star.”
Friday was a day off so I went back to Longboat to hang out on the beach for the afternoon, I tried desperately to even out my baseball/farmers tan but obviously a two week head start for my forearms and neck was too much for the rest of my body to overcome. We swam, played a little baseball on the beach and listened to music. It was a great way to spend a day off. At 4:30 I hit the road and drove down to Port Charlotte to move into the team hotel for the rest of the spring. The drive took a little over an hour, and before long I moved myself into my room. I’m rooming with Justin O’Conner who was the catcher in Bowling Green last year, so I was sort of familiar with him when he arrived later that night. We sat and talked with ESPN on as a background, and he asked how I liked catching, the coaches and being with Tampa Bay.
Saturday was the official start to Pitchers and Catchers on the minor league side of camp. We began the day with a meeting in the coaches room during which Hoover discussed the importance of fundamentals in our defense, about our defensive program, and a bunch of other important topics we’d need to cover before hitting the field. When we finished with that meeting we headed to Building B for a meeting with all the pitchers. It was the standard welcome to Spring Training meeting during which Mitch, the Minor League Director introduced everybody. We headed out to the field around 11 am and got stretched out. The stretch was a very long, involved series that worked up a good sweat right away. After stretch the pitchers had a whole series of conditioning, while we (catchers) ran arcs around the infield. We knocked out the conditioning, and headed into a quick base running session during which we went over very basic things like our responsibilities on deck, our routes to first base and our lead offs. My group was on Field 3, diagonally across from the field we stretched and would later throw on. We threw after base running, then it was time for the day to start. At this point anyone without an idea what was going on would immediately think the word “chaos.” There were pitching groups on every field, catchers in the bullpens, hitting on one field and other guys running around between the stations. My group took BP first, then caught bullpens. I hit well, spraying balls all around the field and feeling pretty good about my swing. I caught three bullpens, and had some positive feedback from both Hoov and some of the other coaches that were watching.
This morning was an early morning for me as I started out with my concussion baseline test before 7 am. I knocked it out and then headed into the Pavilion to eat breakfast. We had scrambled eggs with cheese, tater tots and the normal assortment of fruit and bagels/toast. I had a good meal with some of the guys before heading inside to put on sunscreen and tape my wrist. We had another meeting in the coaches room, this time one of the big league catching coaches came in and talked to us. He again stressed the importance of defense in our organization, talking about all of the different things that the front office measures and quantifies. When we finished with Nelly we headed to the cages for a meeting with Liv, one of the hitting coaches. He talked about early work, cage rules and other house keeping stuff, it was another one of those welcome style meetings. We all drudged back across the complex to Field 1 for stretch and did our whole morning routine. Today we did blocking work before batting practice started. That was the only real change schedule wise, other than Hoov breaking us into 4 groups instead of 3 groups to get everyone a little more work. It was another good day, and I’m starting to figure some stuff out behind the plate. The highlight of the day for me was wearing our full uniform for the first time. It has been nice working out in shorts and tshirts, but there is definitely a sense of pride involved in wearing your big league club’s jersey and having your last name and a number on your back. It was very cool to see everyone in uniform and a big help to start getting names figured out.
I’ll be more regular on here now that I’m all settled in so my posts won’t be long boring summaries of the days like this might have been. Until next time, Go Rays!