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Indians spring training: Official visits, rude fans and a memorable scooter ride

By Stephanie Storm Published: February 20, 2014

Wednesday at Indians camp proved to be one of those days where the longer the day went on, the more odd the events became.

NEW SHERRIFF IN TOWN –Up first on the day’s agenda for Indians players was a meeting with seven members of the Arizona State Police Department who were dressed in their black uniforms complete with holstered guns. The topic of the half hour meeting in the club’s spacious locker room was specifics of the state’s strict drinking and driving laws.

According to Internet research: Arizona boasts one of the U.S.’s toughest and strictest Driving Under the Influence laws. First-time DUI offenders are required to have an Ignition Interlock Device attached to their vehicle for a year (the device uses a breathalyzer to test the driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration before the engine can be turned on. There is also a minimum fine of $1,250, the possibility of community service, a jail stay ranging from 24 hours to 10 days and a 90-to-360-day license suspension.

MAYORIAL VISIT –A familiar face was spotted around the fields of the Tribe’s Goodyear complex during the Indians mid-morning workout, as longtime Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic visited camp for two hours. Dressed in a blue-and-white striped polo shirt, blue shorts and sandals, Plusquellic casually strolled around the fields with Indians assistant director of player development Carter Hawkins as his guide.

While players worked out in groups rotating from one field to another, Plusquellic stopped often to talk to some folks along the way. In addition to meeting Akron’s new Double-A manager David Wallace, the mayor chatted with Indians catcher/third baseman Carlos Santana and Indians general manager Chris Antonetti

POWER OFF PHONES, PLEASE –From the I-can’t-believe-my-gall-of-some department: As groups of Indians players trekked from one field to another between drills Wednesday, a woman on her cell phone came running towards Santana with her cell phone cradled to her left ear and a baseball and pen in her hands.

Without even putting the phone down for a second or pausing her conversation, the woman motioned for Santana to sign the ball. Without hesitation, Santana politely obliged the woman. Afterwards as Santana looked up at her, the woman raised a pointer finger to her mouth as if to say “shhhh,” then continued to yammer away as he tried to hand her autographed ball and pen back so he could join the group that had gone ahead of him.

Finally, as Santana shrugged and began to continue on his way, the woman turned on her heels and said into the phone: “I don’t know who that was, but I got my ball signed.”       

HOW DOES THIS THING WORK?– After the morning workout, always-animated Tribe first baseman Nick Swisher hopped on manager Terry Francona’s famous red scooter and zipped through the clubhouse.

“Just to make sure it works,” Swished explained as his reason for the impromptu joy ride.

QUOTE OF THE DAY– The Indians and pitching ace Justin Masterson avoided the necessity of traveling to Florida for a salary arbitration hearing that had been scheduled for today by agreeing to a one-year, $9.8 million contract Tuesday. Despite the deal coming down to the wire, Francona would have been stunned had the two sides gone through with making the trip.

“Honestly, I didnt think they were ever going,” he said. “I'm glad they (got a deal worked out).”

TECHNOLOGY MEETS BASEBALL, SORT OF –Over in Viera, Fla.,the Washington Nationals used an “aerial drone” to record spring workouts the first few days of camp. That sentence alone picqued my interest enough to check out the story further, only to be disapointed at what I found.

No, the Nats aren’t part of some super secret government program. And the term “drone” is really just a fancy way to say remote-controlled plane. As for the video footage being gathered, its merely to give the gteam’s fans “a different perspective” of players and will be used on team’s video board at Nationals Park during the season.

Not only disapointing, but the gadget made such a distracting humming noise as it buzzed  above Space Coast Stadium, players and coaches kept peering up at the sky in an effort to figure out what in the world was going on.

“Technology is crazy,” pitcher Stephen Strasburg later told reporters. “I guess you can run down to the hobby store and get one yourself.”

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