Just got back into Gainesville and I am now ready to write out a full report of what I observed out on the practice field today. Im sure I will forget something, so be sure to check the comments in case I add something. I put some of the pictures I took up in this post, but after the jump you can click on the link for the full album. I tried to tie in the pictures I posted with the notes that I took during the day. Also, there will def. be more videos, I have a ton of footage but they take some time to put together and edit.I hope you guys enjoy it, I know I did.
I took about 230 pictures( I went for quantity not quality) You can see the pictures by clicking on the link HERE!!!
- First thing I noticed as players came out, Munter is a Monster and is huge
- Team started by going out to centerfield for a meeting far away from fans and media. This meeting lasted nearly an hour, as Friedman and Silverman were both out there looking over the meeting. At the end of the meeting, all of the players huddled in close, and the huddle ended by everyone breaking out in laughter and walking away. I have no idea what happened, but it must have been hilarious because EVERYONE was laughing.
- After this the players started to warmup. Kazmir threw with Price, needless to say, that was one of the hardest throwing warmups in team history.
- After this the catchers worked on some throws from behind the plate, but I missed this as I was catching up with Friedman and Silverman. Both executives said the appreciate the site and everything we do. Friedman mentioned how the next couple of seasons are going to be very exciting. Silverman asked what the D in DRaysBay stand for now, in jest he said he might need to think up a new name for us. Both guys were extremely nice and very courteous when referring to DRaysBay. I also talked to Rick Vaughn, who was basically on the same page as them. The pic is of Maddon and Friedman, but I couldn't find a good one of Silverman and Friedman together.
- The team worked on pickoff moves to second base, and Aki seemed natural at covering second and being on the same page as the pitcher. This may seem very miniscule, but if the middle infielders and pitchers have great timing, it can lead to great pickoff moves.
-Pitchers went in stations to the pickoff moves, while the pitchers not performing sat in a huddle with Hickey to go over instructions about something I could not hear.
- After this position players went through stations on the field where time was split between hitting live pitching, practicing baserunning, and bunting. There were many comments on the much improved bunting practice area. Later in the day, Maddon would explain how he plans to be very active in situational opportunities. This is probably why the bunting setup was so nice. Each field had one in the backstop area. IT basically consisted of a pitching machine, a plate and mini first and third base lines for the players to practice their bunts on. I spent a very large portion of my time today taking pictures and videos of bunting. I did this because it was very close to the fence, and I was able to shoot some good videos, as will be evident later.
- On bunting, Cannizaro was a bunting machine. You could tell it was the coaches first time seeing him bunt, cus as soon as he laid down 2 bunts, one coach remarked "This kid can lay one down". Navarro, was also a bunting machine, and was pretty much putting on a clinic. I have a funny video from when Navarro was bunting that will get posted at some point. One other person of note to me was Fernando Perez. Coaches were telling him his bunting is really close to be good enough to get hits on a regular basis. They remarked on how he has made a lot of improvement, but he is extremely close to taking it to the next level. In this picture, those group of balls in the screen were not put together, thats how accurate Cannizaro was.
- I got a great quote from Bartlett, but I wasn't fast enough to get it on film. I asked Jason how he's liking Tampa so far? He responded, "I love it, beats Minnesota right?" Also, Bartlett didn't really impress me with his bunting skills.
- Also from the video I showed already of Cliff, right after i stopped camera he said, "We've got some good dudes here, some real good dudes!" Also on Floyd, he seemingly walked around everywhere with a bat, I hope thats a sign of things to come.
- Fred McGriff was out there today, for I believe the first time. He was in full coaching uniform, but he didn't stay out the whole time. No pics of Fred, but I got one of this other first baseman you might have heard of.
-Didn't really see this Longo too much, but figured you guys would want to see his picture.
- I didn't get to see many people hit, but I did notice a couple things. Elliot Johnson looked pretty good, hitting line drives to both sides of the field, and showing gap power. Cannizaro was popping up the ball a lot. He hit a couple to the warning track, but they would have most likely been outs in games. Jaso showed some power, and I saw him hit one out. He also agreed to pose for me in the picture below.
- Navarro and Giminez were together much of the day. Since they are both from the same country, one might expect a bond between the two. Who knows if the relationship between Navarro and the backup is something that will go into the decision making process.
- The team ended practice by having a meeting that lasted around 20 minutes. They asked the press to clear out for this meeting. The entire meeting pretty much talked about signs. They emphasized how important the signs are, and how missing signs reduces what Joe can do as a coach. What was then shocking is that they began to go over signs right there in front of the fans. They were speaking soft so it was hard to make them out, but I definitely picked up a couple. I just hope there werent any Yankees or BoSox scouts at the practice.