Clearwater Beach, Florida — It’s a tough assignment to have to leave the snow of the Northeast to spend a few days in Florida covering Spring Training 2010, but that’s exactly what the owners of Olympic Internet
wanted me to do this season to help get you ready for your 2010 fantasy baseball draft.
We couldn’t be everywhere, but we did get to see the Yankees – Rays game on Friday and the Phillies – Pirates game on Saturday. Here’s some general observations from the games.
* The price of a ticket to Steinbrenner Field – $31. The cost of the same ticket at Pittsburgh’s McKechnie Field in Bradenton — $11. If that doesn’t compare a big market franchise with a small market franchise, I don’t know what does.
* If you think Phil Hughes is the answer for the Yankees this year, think again. He struggled against the Rays and was lucky to pitch 1 2/3 with only allowing one run. Joba Chamberlain also got pounded around.
* I’m a believer in Sean Rodriguez. He may just win the second base job for the Rays over Ben Zobrist. Keep an eye on Rodriguez. Couldn’t Joe Maddon have given him that fourth at bat in an attempt to get a single for the cycle? I know it’s spring training and all, but how many chances do you get in a career to hit for the cycle?
* Joba Chamberlain does a prayer to his Dad prior to his taking the mound.
* Look for a big year from Jason Bartlett. I really like the way Bartlett plays the game.
* Nick Swisher might be the most ungraceful base runner in the league. He was picked off first and stumbled going back to the bag.
* The MLB Network van was in Bradenton Saturday to cover the Phillies vs. Pirates game.
* Pretty cool to see a game at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. Park in the back of the Boys and Girls Club and get a ride on a golf cart to the entrance! All for $7!
* The Pirate Parrot is funnier than the Phillie Phanatic. The mimicking he did of Chase Utley and Greg Dobbs warming up was hilarious.
* You had to love the “Pitt-Stop” at McKechnie Field offering Iron City, Yuengling, and Rolling Rock — all Pennsylvania beers.
* Ryan Howard looks great. The off-season regimen he has done shows. He looks about 30 pounds lighter than last year. Read more about Ryan Howard’s weight loss here.
* And, the weight Howard lost is nothing compared to that of Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. Manuel is actually thin; about 60 pounds less of him this season. See Charlie Manuel’s before and after Nutri System pictures.
* Andrew McCutcheon, who is from Bradenton, is a five tool player and somebody I know I’ll have my eye on in the 2010 fantasy baseball draft. His Mom can really sing too. She sang the National Anthem prior to the game and it was one of the best renditions I’ve ever heard.
* It looks like Dobbs has a long way to go to get that sweet stroke he had two years ago.
* Danys Baez is going to be a nice addition to the Phillies bullpen.
* A baseball game ends in a 3-3 tie. Hey, it’s Spring Training, why not?
* Great to see the Phillies practice on Sunday morning prior to heading back home. Little Leaguers should note that the pros do some of the same drills that you do! Pitchers fielding ground balls and throwing to all the bases. Hey, you have to do something to keep the pitchers busy in Spring Training! By the way, what does a punter do in practice for three hours?