Thursday, February 15, 2007

First Spring Workout

It is finally upon us.......the first Giants workout, featuring pitchers and catchers only, of Spring Training 2007. I can't tell you how good it felt to be out in the sun, with the smell of freshly mowed grass watching baseball again. I arrived about 9:00 am as the team was doing agility and endurance drills, followed by stretching and followed by pickoff drills. The pitchers were pretty much done for the day at 11:30 am. I was told that the catchers were going to take batting practice at about 12:10, but I didn't want to stick around while doing nothing for 40 minutes, so I left at about 11:40 am.

The setup for fans was pretty much the same as last year. The Giants will allow fans to attend workouts at Scottsdale Stadium, but we are limited to the area on the firstbase side of the field. There is a great deck above the RF wall that affords a fabulous view of both practice fields and the pitching mounds, but the Giants won't let fans up there. So once again this year, I will only be able to take photos of and comment on what happens on the main field. Not a problem, but I sure wish I could watch some of the bullpen sessions. The bullpens are totally out of view from the area that we are limited to. The bullpens are where some of the best action happens in the early spring.

Another slight change from last year is that the Minor League camp will open up at Indian School Park on Monday. Last year they didn't open the Minor League camp until March 2nd. So effective Monday, when the position players arrive, only the players on the 40-man roster or who are non-roster invitees will work out at Scottsdale Stadium. All early arriving Minor Leaguers will be sent to Indian School Park. Just to give you a rough idea....there are about 40-50 pitchers in camp right now and 7 or 8 catchers.

The first thing I noticed was that the players seem to be in exceptionally good shape this year. When they were running and doing agility drills, they were dressed in shorts and t-shirts and with a few exceptions.......there isn't much fat on these guys. They all wear very baggy uniforms and it is tough to tell what kind of shape they are in by looking at my photos. But trust me...there has been some serious working out going on over the off-season. New/old Giant Russ Ortiz is in better shape than I have ever seen him, including in his rookie year. Matt Cain has lost that soft midsection that he was sporting last year. Benjie Molina, although he isn't a Mr. America candidate, is noticeably lighter than he was last year with the Angels. Even Armando Benitez, though still way too heavy, was not as bad as the photos in yesterday's newspapers made him look.

Another early observation that stands out is that Bruce Bochy sure looks like he is going to be a lot more hands on than Felipe Alou or even Dusty Baker before him. Felipe was always around, kind of in the background, overseeing his coaches as they ran the workouts. Bochy is right there, right with the coaches and players all the time. He even ran all 4 groups of pitchers through a pickoff drill himself. Even Dusty wouldn't do that. Dusty would closely observe.....but not actually run a drill himself. Felipe would have been on the other side of the field watching. I also noticed that if a player made a mistake, Bochy would immediately comment on the mistake and make the player do it again. In past years, I was stuck by the fact that a player would do something wrong and the drill would just continue on without correction as the next player took his turn. I always thought that was a strange way to run drills. I know it's early.......but it looks like more actual "coaching" might occur this year under the new regime.

By way of a disclaimer, my photos usually get better as a couple of days go by and I reacquaint myself with my camera. I take a lot more photos than I post. For example, I took a total of over 130 photos today. So if anyone has a specific request to see a player, just ask by clicking on the "comment" link below and I will post the requested photo as time, space and circumstance allow.

That's about it for the first day. It's good to have baseball back!!


Anonymous said...

Do you have photos of Zito's new delivery?

Giantfan9 said...

I have other Zito photos, but this is the only one I have where he is throwing. As I said in today's post, It isn't possible to get to a location where I can view bullpen work. I probably won't be able to get a good shot of his delivery until games start.

Anonymous said...

Hi, gf9 -

Big time Giants fan here from the South Bay - my wife & I will be heading down to Scottsale in a few weeks.

Once the full squad reports, would you mind posting a pic or two of Kevin Frandsen?

Thanks a bunch!

Giantfan9 said...

Kevin Frandsen is my favorite young position player. I believe I was the first person to say he reminds me of Robby Thompson with maybe a little less power. That was a couple of Spring Trainings back. I was here for all of the Arizona Fall League and saw 24-25 games. Boy Kevin sure tore it up in the AFL didn't he. I hold great hope for his contributions to the team.

frank said...

I just broke out in a smile when I read your opening, the sun, the freshly mown grass. Damn, Winter is over. Any closer pics of Benitez? What can you tell about his condition, his weight?

Snuffy said...

Hey gf9

I'm glad you decided to continue the blog this season. I read in another forum that you hadn't decided. I think a lot of people look forward to reading your blog each day and seeing the photos.
Maybe you don't have any choice as to blog or not. It's kinda like being a star athlete who doesn't want to be a role model. He'll be a role model whether he likes it or not and you'll be the Giants ST blogger whether you like or not. Again, many people rely on you to provide the spring insight and you do it well. Go GMen.

Giantfan9 said...

Hey pressure in that comment. No pressure at all.

Lorraine said...

Hi gf9,

I'm so glad to see you are posting this ST again. I thoroughly enjoyed your posts and pictures last year.

If possible, can you have your ear open to see if anyone will say why Trevor Wilson is no longer with the Giants. I haven't been able to find out a thing in Fresno and they won't answer me about it.

I look forward to your postings this spring.

Thanks for all your work on it. I do appreciate it a lot.

Number33/29/35 said...

Muchas Gracias for the blogs Hank!
Would love a Richie photo when he arrives, it'll be good to see him back in black & orange s/t unis.

Seriously, thanks for the blogs & the pics for another year, it's much appreciated. Season tix & a spring training home, you're my role model whether you like it or not!

Daria said...

how does jack look? and when the games start can we enter the park that early or is it like sbc 2 hrs to game time? thanks! i enjoy reading and looking at the pictures.

Giantfan9 said...

Daria....I posted a photo of Taschner , I assume that is the "Jack" you were talking about. You tell me how he looks.

On game days you can't get into the park until 2 hrs before game time. You can go to Indian School Park and watch the Minor League guys workout, but they won't let you in the stadium that early.

Jefferson said...

I love reading your blog at this time of year. It makes me happy seeing photos of the guys, and green grass and sunshine too. Keep up the good work!

My personal request would be a photo of J. Sanchez. Thanks!

allfrank said...

Thanks for the blog, the pics, the commentary. And thanks for the second photo of Benitez. To me, he looks much slimmed down from last year. But maybe I remembered him bigger and heaveir than he was. BTW, I visit your blog 5, 6 times a day. I was a kid in Washington state when the Giants came to SF. I remember listining on AM radio to games. It would come in and out and you would miss half the games. Then I moved to Chicago and it was almost impossible to get any news other than box scores. This internet stuff is just great!!! ST photos, McCovey Chron, Lefty Malo, ObsessCompulsGiant fans. Such a treat.

lucky13 said...

Thank you for your blog, I found you last year before I went down to my first spring training and your insites and words made my experience a fantastic one. I can not make it down this year, but will be there because you do such a wonderful job detailing the day I feel as if I am there. Thank you again, I really appreciate your time and efforts.

Giantfan9 said...

Thank you lucky13, you don't know how much comments like this mean to me. I spent basically from 9am to 3 or 4 PM today either watching the team or writing about it for this blog. I definitely enjoy the watching part, but the uploading of photos and the writing of the narratives is a whole lot like a real "job". And as a retired person......"job" is a dirty word to me. Comments like yours are the only "pay" I get for doing this. Thanks again.

Terry said...

Hank...good to see the blog and you fired back up for ST. I've said it before, but your previous career has prepared you well for this all important task you've taken on. Keep up all the good work...I wish I was at the moose with ya!

(btw, Molina played for the Jays last year ;)