Dog days of spring
These days can sometimes be the dog days of spring training. Skip brought that up to the guys yesterday. I think it’s very relevant to this team just because, as we talked about before, there aren’t a lot of positions open, so guys are kind of getting a little antsy. The importance is to focus on getting our work done, and that’s probably the toughest thing. That’s a mental thing. We’re challenged even in spring training with that, the mental aspect of the game, because this is the beginning of a major grind. We’ve got less than three weeks left now. You pretty much know who’s on the club, and so you kind of want to get the season started. A lot of guys are getting really excited about Opening Day and getting rolling, but we have to finish our work here. And there’s work to be done. I think if you went down the line, each and every one of the guys would say that.
Right now, I don’t think anybody’s going to say that they’d feel good about leaving camp right now, and that includes me — although Kenny yesterday looked in midseason form. We talk as pitchers about being efficient, and he’s about as efficient as they come. He’s a contact pitcher and he makes his defense work, and his defense plays behind him. When the ball’s in play, guys are loose and ready to roll. That’s what Kenny tries to work on. He establishes his fastball first, works in his curveball later on. Each guy has a different work ethic. Each guy has a different part of his game that he’s working on down here, and that’s what it’s for.
But we get little teasers down here hearing that the weather up in Detroit was above 70 degrees. I think that adds to the anticipation of getting up there, although we know that it can change in two days. Or a day. That’s your typical Michigan day. I guess if there’s any kind of preparation that we need down here, we need some kind of cold spell to run through here, because it’s going to be a little bit cool.
Other than that, we still don’t have any reason to bring out the rally gum yet. I think most people’s interests are in that anyway. It’s funny to hear people talk about that. I still see people running up with their Gum Time t-shirts on. That was just part of the whole storyline last year, what this team had done in gaining back the people and the fans and the city. There’s probably going to be more excitement on Opening Day this year than there has been in over a decade. There’s always excitement on Opening Day. I’ve been part of three of them now. This year’s going to be different. It’ll be nice to see that pennant, that flag raised up, and the ring ceremony obviously. And that’ll put to rest 2006. That’ll be time to turn the page. It’s going to be fun, but we do have to finish up down here. We’ll see where it takes us.
A lot of folks probably ask what we do in the meantime. Between American Idol and the NCAA Tournament and NASCAR, there’s always something going on. Although NASCAR is popular in our clubhouse, it doesn’t quite match the NCAA Tournament. Some guys, these are their alma maters playing, and there’s bragging rights going on. And guys are, of course, picking teams, but we also did that with American Idol — some of us. I’m not going to say who, but there are some American Idol buffs in that clubhouse. A lot of guys are pretty down on this voting system with American Idol here lately. There’s a guy that keeps on getting through that a lot of guys are disappointed on. You’d be surprised how disappointed some of these guys get, man. It’s a topic of discussion.
But yeah, Major League Baseball players, we don’t just talk baseball all the time. We have fun with it. We try to have fun with everything, and Leyland preaches that. We need to have fun on the field, obviously, but a break from the action is always nice as well. It’s always nice to have it during spring training. St. Patrick’s Day is coming up, and last year we suited up one of our clubhouse kids. One of our bat boys, he had his leprechaun suit on. We’ll see if there’s anything in the making this year, though we’re on the road that day this year.