Red Sox

Roche: Think Fort Myers

A Sports blog by WBZ-TV's Dan Roche
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Fans of the Boston Red Sox enjoy the game against the Baltimore Orioles during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Ed Smith Stadium on March 27, 2010 in Sarasota, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Fans of the Boston Red Sox enjoy the game against the Baltimore Orioles during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at Ed Smith Stadium on March 27, 2010 in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Dan Roche Dan Roche
Dan Roche is an award-winning sports anchor and reporter for WBZ-T...
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BOSTON (CBS) – How do you get through this winter of discontent? Three words: Boston Red Sox

If I start to get depressed about the ridiculous amounts of snow we keep getting I simply will my spirit to that of Spring Training.

Gone is the snow and in is the clickety-clack of baseball spikes on cement as the Sox players and coaches  walk out of their clubhouse and onto the fields at the Minor League complex in the Fort.

As I rake the roof for seemingly the 100th time this winter I dream away to watching Gary Tuck put his catchers through blocking, framing, and throwing drills.

As I shovel again with nowhere to put it I think of bullpen sessions for Beckett, Lester, Wake, Dice-K, Lackey and company.

Unlike those in my business who mock the equipment truck leaving for Florida on February 8th, I embrace it. It’s one of the first signs of warmth for New England for 2011 and boy do we need that.

Bring it all on. There are no better days on the calendar than those of the first few days of Spring Training. The players are in the best moods they will be in all year. For they too love coming back to the game they play and get paid handsomely to do so.

It’s warm(most of the time). The sun feels good along with the gentle breeze….

Down in Fort Myers you can indeed get early impression of players. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Curt Schilling throw a bullpen session in a Red Sox uni. 1) He was throwing like he was game-ready, 2) He had that late giddy-up on his fastball, and 3) he had a “heavy ball” that only a few guys have.

I’ll also never forget the first time I saw David Ortiz in Fort Myers. I noticed some guy hitting bomb after bomb at one of the far fields. Big Papi was hitting way beyond the center field fence…out where the alligators live.

I’ve also seen an alligator or two in the minor league complex, including one that was trapped in a drainage hole. Scary.

I’ve “broken a story” when on “Red Sox This Week”, Sox reliever Julian Tavarez told me that Manny was going to be a few days late to the Fort due to Manny’s ill grandmother(when asked about that the next day, Tito kindly responded, “I don’t pay attention to any reports on Rochie’s channel 99 or wherever the %$#^  he works).

Down in the Fort you also get a chance to talk shop with the players. It’s where you get a chance to find out what their off-season program was like or what goals they may have in 2011. You can also talk family, movies, politics, and many other current events. You can also get Gabe Kapler and Kevin Youkilis to square off in a “Cookie-Off” to decide which company has the best cookies in the United States. Or, get Bronson Arroyo to sing the “C is for Cookie” Sesame Street song to open our Sox show. 

You also can get to play the 6am waiting game to see if Manny will indeed show up on time and while doing so get Theo, Tito, and almost every player to make fun of you for doing so as they come to work that day.

You also see guys getting in extra work. I’ll never forget watching a young Kevin Youkiliws throw a medicine ball off a concrete wall over and over and over again one spring as he tried to make the team.

Unfortunately, in my television business we only get to stay a short time. I always laugh when I hear a writer saying how long they are “stuck” in Spring Training. I could stay from February 1st to the day they leave North.

I love it. I love it all. The workouts, the bullpens, the b-p, the pfp’s, the exhibition games..home and away.

So, while we all struggle to stay sane in this miserable winter in New England, I’d advise you to do what I do…..

–get your Fantasy teams ready or play old-timers games if you’d like

–buy some of the baseball books and magazines out already

–watch a few baseball movies

–surf the web for some baseball news

Can’t wait for Spring Training and for baseball to return…..

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