When I left off, the pitchers and catchers were stretching and warming up. There was a LOT going on from here on, so I’m going to mix pictures and bulleted thoughts for the majority of this entry.
– Throughout their stretching routines, someone kept singing the chorus of “La Bamba” at the top of their lungs. Having been at training some last season, I knew immediately that this person was Valverde. There was also random whooping and shouting. If you’ve ever wondered if Valverde’s schtick on the mound is an act, believe me, it is not. More on that later.
– Pitchers and catchers broke out for workouts, with the catchers heading over to one field and the pitchers dividing up between the remaining four fields. I followed the catchers, where Avila and Laird were playing catch together. Avila looks excellent- smiling, relaxed, healthy, and moving well. That was a massive relief to see. He and Laird seemed happy to be working together, which was also great.
I much prefer smiling Alex to the grimacing Alex from the end of last year.
– It seemed like the pitchers were broken into four groups, each with one of the four known starters and a various selection of prospects and relievers. Got a look at Justin’s group first, which included Oliver, Balester, Hoffman, and a few I couldn’t identify. The were working fielding drills, which with our history, was a very good thing to see.
Justin running to first base.
– Saw Fister’s group next. Fister is tall. So, so tall. I mean, we know that, but you don’t really get a sense of his legs until you see him person. His group included Schlereth, Pauley (remember him?), Below, Villareal, Owen, and friends. At one point, Schlereth was standing next to Fister and I almost died laughing. I mean, look at this:
Height difference hillarity.
– Porcello’s group was next, including Coke, Valverde, Ortega, and a few others. Now, I have no idea how these groups were formed, but putting Coke and Valverde in the same group proved the highlight of the day for the fans. Poor Porcello (heh) was all Serious Face and working hard while Coke and The Potato worked hard . . . while being completely ridiculous. Coke ran for a ball and was followed by the shout of “Get ’em, Cokey!”. Valverde stood up against the fence, struck a pose, and yelled “Cheese!” to the fans. A particularly amusing “hustle” from Valverde was awarded with the first round of applause I had heard on the back fields. Coke completely biffed a ball coming to first and we all “ooooooooh”-ed dramatically. He then turned to the coach, stared in disbelief, and exclaimed, “Come on, do I look like a hitter?!”. Papa Grande made it to first and a fan yelled “Safe!”. Without missing a beat, he retorted with “OUT!”. The fans were into it and the whole experience was just beautiful. It was why I love spring training in a 15 minute burst of bullpen awesomeness.
I don't know what was happening, but apparently both Rick and Jose found it funny.
The Big Potato hustles! Go Potato, go!
Coke awesomely blames a coach for his error.
– After that crew, it was Scherzer with Benoit, Wilk, Downs, Turner, and a few others. Scherzer is a clown, pretty much exactly as you would expect. It wasn’t that he wasn’t working hard so much as he seems to have a pretty laid back attitude about everything. (Completely the opposite of Porcello, who seems pretty tense regardless of his years pitching at this level so far. I have some thoughts on that for later.) Benoit missed two grounders to the mound in a row and kicked the second one in frustration, but otherwise, he seemed loose and happy.
Wilk throws while the others look on.
Scherzer being himself.
– Have I mentioned Fister is tall? I mean, come on:
Holy legs, Batman!
– At this point, they were done and the hitters (those who were there) came out to practice. Unfortunately, they took the back two fields where there really isn’t access for fans. Through Twitter, I knew that Brennan, Prince, and Miggy were tearing it up back there, but I have no photographic evidence of this. Instead, here are a few random photos and thoughts to finish.
Phil Coke, man of the people. He signed for EVERYONE and had conversations with many.
Jackson and Boesch!
Prince, Kelly, and friends.