Sadly our trip down to 80-degree temperatures and places where the crack of the bat never stops has reached its last full day. After a stop by the MLB clubhouse in the morning before they headed to Port Charlotte to take on the Rays, it was back over to Pirate City for the first official day of minor league Spring Training. That might sound a bit misleading as if you’ve been watching any of the MLB Spring Training games so far, you’ll have most likely watched plenty of former Curve players late in games, etc.
Before we get into the minor league side of things, we were able to catch up with “The Man” Josh Harrison for a brief minute while down here in Bradenton. Josh talks garden gnome giveaways, walk-out music and more in the video below:
Yesterday was the day that all minor leaguers had to report by with today being the official first workout day. Many players had reported early and today was just the “official” first workout.
This blog had never been to the Pirate City complex before we arrived down here for this trip. We had a brief stay on Sunday but most of the players were gone by the time we arrived. We did get to meet our new man in charge in Tom Prince on Sunday as we bumped into him walk going through the vast expanse of the complex.
Today, Tom was on the field leading one of the workouts of the many different groups (not teams) but groups of players there were out on the many fields in the back of the complex.
We arrived a little after nine and workouts were nearly already underway when we headed out back. One thing we noticed immediately off the bat was this: if you were going from one field to another, one drill to another, you were running. Just like Forrest Gump said everywhwere he was running, well this must be posted on a bulletin board somewhere (if it’s not it should be) because everywhere the minor leaguers went, they ran.
We saw lots of familiar faces around the complex between this drill or that drill. with guys like Nate Baker, Tom Harlan, Dan Gamache, Pat Ludwig, Josh Bell, Joan Montero, Justin Howard, Matt Benedict, Tyler Sample, Andy Vasquez, Kawika Emsley-Pai and many others stopping by to say hi. We saw our new hitting coach Kevin Riggs, who is brand new to the Pirates’ organization after spending many years in the Colorado Rockies chain, working through some hitting drills with Josh Bell, who figures to be in the mix for our Opening Day roster.
From fielding drills for pitchers, to infield, to cutoff drills…you name it, the minor leaguers did it in today’s workout, which lasted until about 12:30 p.m. There were no games played today (as it was technically the first workout) but those games between Pirates minor leaguers and other team’s minor league players will begin in a few weeks.
Since it was lunch time around the time that we finally left Pirate City, we were told to head to Mixon Fruit Farm, which is a staple in the Bradenton area. Specializing in oranges early on, this has become a 350-acre establishment after it started back in 1939 with just 20 acres of land. A fine recommendation by the Altoona Mirror’s Jim Lane, who has been quite helpful as a tour guide, you can find more information about Mixon’s here.
Mixon Fruit Farm: http://www.mixon.com/about.asp
Well folks…just 37 more days until our home opener. We couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to let you know from Florida…