Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spring Is in The Air in Florida

According to the calendar, winter officially began 21 days ago today. However this morning in Bradenton Florida it was most definitely the first day of spring.

The Pittsburgh Pirates started their spring training "mini-camp" yesterday at their Pirate City facility on the east side of Bradenton. None of the players are required to be there for the week long mini camp. However by the number of players present I don't think many stayed away.

I arrived about 10:15 and saw several of my friends from the 2010 Bradenton Marauders season. Although the major league players were present, my interest was in the 60 or so minor league players who had shown up for the camp. It was refreshing to see Marauder catcher Eric Fryer with whom I had a nice chat before he took the field.

Calvin "The Bus" Anderson was there and I enjoyed watching him take batting practice that will hopefully lead to a few more David Ortiz-quality home runs in 2011. Once Calvin becomes proficient at destroying a curve ball like he can a fastball, we'll be watching Calvin move up in the organization.

My most favorite Marauder, shortstop Brock Holt was also at the mini camp. Brock told me that he was almost completely recovered from the torn meniscus that kept him out of about half of the 2010 season. With Brock healthy in 2011, I think we can expect to see some more spectacular plays at shortstop from him. And if Brock isn't at least with the AA level Altoona Curve or more preferably the AAA level Indianapolis Indians by the end of the 2011 season I'll be extremely surprised. If Pirates management uses its head they will be particularly careful not to lose Brock Holt to any other team. If he stays healthy, I think we'll be seeing Brock playing in the Major League All-Star game in about 4 years. He's that good.

Although there were no strenuous workouts or scrimmages it was refreshing to again hear a ball slap against the leather of a baseball glove and to hear the unmistakable "twack" that comes from a baseball hitting the meat of a bat and being sent on a trajectory toward the left field fence.

Nothing exciting happened on the field at Pirate City today but to me everything I saw was exciting. Official spring training for the Pittsburgh Pirates including, hopefully, many of the Bradenton Marauders, will begin about February 10, and the first game of the spring training season is on February 25. More importantly the first game of the Bradenton Marauders 2011 season is on April 8th, just 87 days from today.

But who's counting?

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