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Baby Bird watching in Sarasota
Watching spring training at the Orioles' minor league complex in Sarasota is a fan-friendly experience. There were about six of us in attendance today, and this "crowd" included one player's parents and a professional photographer who was there to take shots for a publication. Before practice started, she was trying to find Anderson Garcia, one of the last players she needed, so two of us had to tell her that Garcia played for the Phillies now. After deciding we weren't joking with her, the photographer crossed Garcia off her list. When she located James Hoey, he grabbed a bat and had his photo taken in a hitting pose, to the amusement of the other players. Eventually, the photographer realized her mistake and made him do it all again, this time striking a pitching pose.
Due to the intimate nature of the facility in Sarasota, you can almost stand beside coaches while they feed the pitching machine for bunting practice, which took place on the grass between fields two and three. Fans are right next to the players, and can talk with them while they wait their turn to participate in drills. Like any other workplace, the players will eventually end up at the water cooler located between fields one and two.
I was told that today was a "camp day." That means there were no minor league games with other teams, so the day was spent with players working through various conditioning, fielding and hitting drills. The pitchers worked on situational fielding and pickoff plays. After the morning drills, the teams broke into four different teams and played intrasquad games. No score was kept, and it appeared there was no set lineup. Bubba Trammell was here today, starting on his way back to the majors. It was fun to see the baby Birds chasing the dream under the Florida sun.
Throughout spring training, baltimoresun.com will publish reports by Orioles fans that made the trip to Florida for baseball's preseason. From Grapefruit League games to minor league camps, our crew of fan correspondents will weigh in with their spring training insights and experiences -- your source for a healthy dose of spring fever.