Friday proved to be as exciting as it’s been so far in Indians spring training camp, with plenty of action going on around the various diamonds, the day marking the first that pitchers were allowed to throw live batting practice to hitters.
And while a couple pitchers proved to be ahead of the curve for this time of camp by sawing off a couple of their teammates bats, once again a lot of the fun was had after the workout in the clubhouse.
Thursday, the Canadian women’s hockey team took down the U.S. in crushing fashion via a come-from-behind, sudden-death overtime victory. Friday, the Canadian men’s team was at it as well (albeit with less drama), prevailing 1-0 to advance to the Gold medal game where they will face Sweeden.
Both days, there wasn’t a bigger fan at the center of all the attention than the Tribe’s new closer John Axford.
After predicting Thursday’s women’s victory, Axford watched the final minutes of the men’s game with a smile while too antsy to do anything other than stand up close to one of the clubhouse TV’s. As the last second ticked off the clock to send the Canadians to the gold medal game, he clapped loudly and turned around and high-fived catcher Luke Carlin, who isn’t a native, but spent time growing up in Canada.
“Oh, stop breathing our air!” Indians reserve Mike Aviles joked to Axford, who just shrugged and soon topped off his street clothes with a Canadian hockey jersey.
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS – While in the area to compete in the Pac-12/Big 10 Tournament Challenge, the University of Utah baseball team stopped by Tribe camp Friday morning. Utes coach, Bill Kinneberg, was Tribe skipper Terry Francona’s college roommate at Arizona, and brought his group by as a field trip of sorts. While Kinneberg caught up with Francona, the players took turns being awed by their professional counterparts.
“Holy Cow, that’s Jason Giambi,” one said out loud. “Man, he’s massive!”\
IF THE OUTFIT FITS – Friday was the Indians annual team golf outing. After the team’s workout, players showered and got dressed to head to the course. One in particular – third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall – was dressed so well complete with a Titlist cap and matching golf shorts and polo shirt, it was hard to tell he was a pro baseball player, not a golfer.
“I don’t know if he can golf, but he sure looks good,” teammate Giambi quipped.
CARVING OUT SOME FAMILY TIME – In addition to Tribe fans milling around the complex during workouts, players’ wives and kids have also begun to stop over regularly the last couple days. However, it’s not always easy for the little ones to understand why they can see dad, but not go over and get a hug or play with him.
One little girl ran on a sidewalk ahead of mom, sing-songing “Daddy, Daddy” after she spotted her father pass by on his way to another field.
Another boy toddler was left in a fit of tears after his dad waved, but wasn’t able to stop, leaving mom to do her best as she tried to comfort him in her arms.