Well, it was another nice day at the Rays Training Camp today. It started out a little chilly, but by 10 am, the Florida sun was shining bright!
A lot more kids today, each with a glove in one hand and pen in the other. As the players rotated from field to field, the kids would all make a mad dash for the players crossing section in an attempt to snag an autograph from their favorite Ray.
The day started out with some fielding. Each field had three coaches hitting balls in three different directions. It was like a precise machine to watch and you definitely understood the meaning of the word “pro”. They worked on forward and back hand fielding, double plays, off balance plays and check runner throws to first. Outfielder’s had a meeting on field 5 and then worked on some distance throwing.
Today was the first day of live batting practice. Some of the upcoming pitchers gave the boys some of their good stuff and the home run derby we’ve had for the last few days was quickly over. A few went out, but not like in past days. From the angle I was standing, you could see some nasty breaking balls going across the plate. I think the guys knew what to expect today, because they had no players shagging balls in the outfield.
After one full rotation of live pitching, they went back to normal BP, which then opened up the dinger factory. Gabe Gross was the winner today. Just about every ball hit by Gross was a rocket to the yard. New TB Ray, Adam Kennedy was looking good at the bat today also.
A few close calls today for the fans. The food/store is right in foul ball central. If I heard heads up once today, I heard it a thousand times. Unaware fans would get a huge surprise when a stray rocket went off course. Fans would scatter, hide, duct and run for cover as the ball hit the concrete wall and pray that the ball bounced some where other than towards them. However, the kids had the whole thing down to a science and would scoop the balls up like pro’s.
After practice was over at around 1pm, I stopped to get gas down the street from the park and here comes BJ Upton and Scott Kazmir pulling up to get some air in Scott’s tire. BJ said “hey man, nice hat”! And, I said “Yo BJ!!, what’s up man” He said “nothing man, were just headed home”. We talked for bit and then went on our way….Isn’t that cool? Two of the best baseball players in the world right here in my home town…it just doesn’t get any better than that!