If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you will know that I have been invested in the Blue Jays staying in their spring-training home of Dunedin, Florida. I live only a few blocks from the stadium and have served on the Dunedin Stadium Committee for more than four years. I have sat through numerous meetings, city meetings, hearings and spoken before city council-all so I can say:
It’s finally done!
It’s been a long road and the Jays mean a lot to the city of Duneden, this is the only spring-training home they’ve ever known-they’ve been here for 42 years. By the time this deal is done they’ll be here another 25. They’re the only team in major league baseball who hasn’t moved and they won’t be moving for a long, long time.
The city council voted last night and the county voted their approval this morning.
You can read an article outlining the details of the deal HERE and watch the city council meeting HERE.
For Clearwater, the day started off chilly, it was 56 when Baseball Ross and I got up and it was only 59 and windy when we got to the Carpenter Complex.
Even though it was “freezing” by this Florida Girl’s definition, we stayed all day and I was rewarded. I took two of the best photos I’ve ever taken. I’ve never had any training, so when it all comes together, it’s the best feeling in the world.
I took these two pictures of pitcher Jeff Singer. If you’re familiar with the Carpenter complex, you’ll know that the bullpen between Schmidt and Ashburn fields has a mesh screen over the fencing that is impossible to shoot through. Today I noticed that the fasteners holding the bottom of the screen were missing, so that if I timed the shot and the pitch just right, I could take the shot right behind the catcher as the screen would be blown up in the air by the wind. The shots, as I said before, are two of the best I’ve ever taken.
Earlier in the day, the major league players who did not make the trip to Tampa took batting practice:
Here are some shots from the rest of the day:
Here is the line up for the game VS Villanova. I did not stay for the game as some of my friends were playing in the other games and I promised to get pictures for them.
As these early days of spring training roll on, it’s more of the “same old, same old” of pitchers fielding drills, batting practice and other drills. It’s hard to really write a narrative of the activities like it is a game. So I will give you these photos:
Sorry for the absence over the last 10 days or so. I had to have a procedure done on my “Frankenfoot” that required rest. On the plus side, I’m able to walk now, the best since I sprained it and broke a bone just 10 days before spring training began.
Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year…the day that minor league pitchers and catchers report. Additionally, the majority of the position players are here already. I’ve known some of these guys for more than five years so it’s great to see some of my friends again.
Matt Hockenberry, who pitched for the Threshers last season, is now a pitching coach for one of the two Gulf Coast League teams the Phillies will be fielding this year. I love this picture as the pitchers are all former colleagues of Hockenberry’s and it’s good to see them all enjoying a laugh together before the work begins. Also in the picture from left to right: Tyler Viza, Alberto Tirado, Alexis Rivero, Garrett Clevenger, Luke Leftwich and Jacob Waguespack in the red shirt.
I took a lot of pictures all around camp yesterday as they are all during drills, there’s not much to say as the pictures speak for themselves:
Today was the first day that the entire major league team was due to report. Things are quite different under the Kapler regime are very different. Whereas they had previously started at 9 and went to about noon, now it starts “around” 11 and goes after 2.
Today, my friend Jose Taveras pitched live batting practice for the major league time since making the 40 man roster.
I was able to catch most of the big names as well:
Today was SOS-Same Old Situation, more of the same PFPs (pitcher fielding practice), catcher drills, bunting practice for the pitchers and batting practice for the catchers.
There was a fairly sizable crowd today. They still haven’t opened up Spectrum Field to the public to watch batting practice for the position players. Baseball Ross is such a dedicated blogger, he had his camera up against the gates to get a few shots.
So I stayed at the Carpenter Complex to get a few shots of my own:
This afternoon, Baseball Ross and I were able to see new Phillies Manager, Gabe Kapler speak to the fans after practice. Kapler came over after speaking to the media at Spectrum field.
He was friendly and seemed to enjoy interacting with the crowd that was assembled. He answered questions as well as took selfies and signed autographs.
His attitude was much different than the way he is portrayed in the media and frankly, I think like the guy. He was asked “Tell us the truth, what do you think?” and Kapler replied:
“Well, right now I felt absolutely felt nothing but support. So I feel supported, is probably the easiest way to put it. And also know that the fans expect us to be accountable, they expect us to bust our balls out there and to give everything we have. And that’s easy. It doesn’t require any effort. And just like the city of Boston where I played for a couple of years, you care about intensity and fight and determination and grit. And then obviously you expect us to win. We understand those expectations and expect to beat them.”
Sounds like a good plan to me. I recorded the interaction and you can watch it HERE.
I must admit, I may have just put one foot on the Kapler bandwagon. He took time with everyone there and seems to have a good grip on what the team needs to do. His methods are different, practice starts at 11 instead of 9, the atmosphere is more relaxed. Only time will tell if his changes will pan out. I’m kind of excited to see if it meet our “expectations” and if they “beat them.”