After leaving my house in Jacksonville at 6:30, I fought through Orlando morning traffic and made it inside the stadium around 9 AM. I had missed my early morning autograph opportunities but that's fine. The team seemed to not be out as early as they were last year. Everyone didn't come out until they were right about to start their stretches. You can't really tell a whole lot by just watching practice, but you can make some decent assumptions. Javy looks to be in great shape. He looks like he hasn't aged a day since he left. Glavine on the other hand, well, he's gotten grayer. As Tommy Two-Timer was walking from the batting cages to the field, autograph seekers yelled at him and he reponded that he was the first one up to throw BP and that since we were behind the field that "we should watch out for all the home runs". Well at least he knows he sucks in the first inning. I watched the catchers practice and Javy's defense has gotten much better. I'll be shocked if he doesn't make the team. He pretty much has to get hurt or just be horrible during the Spring games. Clint Sammons needs to put on some muscle as he was by far the smallest of the catchers. I then watched future stud Jordan Schafer take some BP. Let me tell you, this kid can rake. Jeff Bennett, Blaine Boyer and Matt DeSsalvo were throwing him BP and he was taking good cuts and driving the ball far. He is fairly skinny and needs to bulk up before he takes over center full time. I didn't get to see Kotsay so I don't know how he looked. Overall, I have a good feeling about this season. I was encouraged by what I saw and was glad I went. I do like to collect autographs, but I like balls much more than cards, so I try to take a few cards, but mostly balls. Last year I got Chipper and McCann on balls. I need Francoeur and Teixeira. They both signed a lot yesterday, but it was always somewhere where I wasn't or in the wrong place at the wrong time. They both blew off all of the auto seekers after practice waiting out by where the players have to exit saying they both had signed all day, which was true. Hopefully I can get them both at some point. However, this is what I did get:
Chuck James 2006 Bowman Heritage RC
I asked Chuck how he was doing and he said he'd been better because the night before, his car had gotten towed. From what I gathered, he either left his vehicle at the park or somewhere that had security. He asked the security people if it was ok to leave the vehicle there and they said it was. Well, it got towed and put on a trailer and he said he had to deal with that before practice, but that the arm is feeling better.
This would be my favorite item I got: Jordan Schafer signed ball
Jordan signed a ton of stuff and I was happy to get him right now. I think he'll be like Francoeur with his signing habits when he gets to the big league, which are good, but it's harder than some people.
Here are some pictures and I'll caption them when needed.
Apparently some local paper had Smoltz and Tom put on old Braves unis. The uniforms were too big for both of them and the hats were way too big. They must have spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get the hats to work to fit on their heads.
Frank Fultz, the Master of Stretching
Corky Miller's face in this one is glorious.
Everyone else was following Fultz's stretching orders. Then there's these guys.
Brent Lillibridge looks like he's 12. I think the Braves might be breaking child labor laws.
Well, that's all I've got from Spring Training. If you can get to a ballpark down here in Florida in the next few weeks, I would highly recommend it.
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