Day 5 at Indians camp came and went without much incident, but not without it’s share of interesting moments from the get go.
For starters, after commenting (notice I did not use the word “complain”) in yesterday’s blog about not having a proper nametag at my work station in the media room, someone was nice enough to fix the situation for me. Well, sort of.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door Sunday morning was that a line had been drawn through longtime ABJ Tribe beat writer Sheldon Ocker’s name and my name had been scribbled above it with a black Sharpie.
Ok then. Point well taken. I may have been around the game for nearly 20 years now, but around these parts I’m just a rookie. Gotcha.
SWISHER SPEAK– I have come to the conclusion that the words and sounds that come out of the mouth Indians first baseman Nick Swisher ought to be classified as his own language. Could be called Swishese (rhymes with Swiss cheese).
Saturday I joked with him that I’d bet his baby girl’s first word during the off season would be “bro”, a frequent Swisher catch word. Although he got a good laugh out of that, the silly phrases he uses, how he invents new words by combining two and how darn excited he gets over everything, I swear the guy could make watching paint dry interesting.
Sunday afternoon not long after the team’s workout, Swisher strolls into the media room to do an in-house interview. Afterwards on his way out the door he says to no one in particular in typical Swishese fashion: “See you manana. First day! GET YOUR MIND RIGHT!”
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT – While waiting his turn to do interviews, young pitcher Trevor Bauer plopped down at a table in the middle of the media room and was nice enough to chat with us.
The topic of the previous day’s ACC hoops game between Duke and Maryland quickly came up, and man did that get Bauer going.
Turns out Bauer has a good buddy whose a Maryland alum and happens to be house sitting for him back home. When the pair discussed the game, Bauer’s buddy joked he was going decorate the house in red and black if the Terps won. So Bauer, a pretty intense competitor in his own right, watched the action intently. With the outcome coming down to the wire instead of the blowout he’d predicted, Bauer shared that he envisioned a spot on the wall that he planned to chuck his drink at if Duke didn’t emerge victorious.
Most guys I know would just react angrily. Not sit there and plan out how they’re going to react, exactly what they’ll do and where the target will be. But then you don’t know Bauer very well if you expect anything less of a guy whose proven to be a tad bit over analytical. After spending all last season revamping his pitching motion, I can envision Bauer sitting in the bowels of a dark stadium with his hair all mussed up, looking like a mad scientist as he cooks up his latest plan to reinvent the art of pitching. In fact, if the kid were a lefty instead of a right-hander, we’d all just sum him up as an eccentric southpaw and think nothing of it.
Luckily for Bauer, the game didn’t come down to that. Maryland missed its last shot in the closing seconds to allow Duke to escape with a 69-67 victory.
“I was still pretty (mad),” Bauer deadpanned. “Still pretty mad now. Should have never been that close.”
GOOD OL’ DAYS – While conducting interviews of those from the Tribe’s famous 1990’s teams for an Omar Vizquel story he’s working on, MLB.com reporter Jordan Bastian hit the jackpot when guest instructor Carlos Baerga launched into a story about some of he and Vizquel’s after hours antics.
You’ll defintiely want to check out Bastian’s Vizquel story when it comes out for more details. But until then, here’s a sweet little nugget: Baerga revealed that he and Vizquel frequented an underground Orlando boxing club at night years ago when the team attended spring training in Winter Haven, Fla.
But they didn’t go to watch. Nope, they actually participated. Seriously! Baerga insisted he and Vizquel boxed! One night both star players got knocked out. After they came to, it dawned on them that taking up boxing during spring training could be detrimental not only to their health, but to their baseball careers as well, and gave it up.
“We were crazy,” Baerga told Bastian with a hearty laugh.
Um, yeah, I’d say so. Worse, consider that if that Baerga/Vizquel story could be shared on the record, imagine what some of their off-the-record stories are like!
NATIONAL ATTENTION– I don’t know that the national baseball writers visit Tribe camp much these days like they probably did regularly in the Indians heydays in the 1990’s. So it was nice of Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi to stop by Tribe camp for a bit Sunday.
Appearantly he didn’t find many juicy tidbits other than newly-acquired Aaron Harang looked sharp in his bullpen session. In fact, Morosi later summed up the experience with this ho-hum tweet: “Went to Indians camp today. Really like their team. Great clubhouse, lively conversation everywhere. They enjoy being around each other.”
Zzzzz….Pretty boring stuff compared to the Tribe’s ‘90’s clubhouses when Albert Belle would take out his frustrations with his bat on unsuspecting thermostats and Baerga and Vizquel were litterally mixing it up in the underground world.