Change-UpMarch 11, 2009
Fort Myers 2009
By Patrick Sullivan

As I mentioned in last week's AL East preview, I spent last weekend in Fort Myers with my buddy Erik. We flew out of JFK last Thursday night and went to the Marlins-Sox game at City of Palms Park on Friday. We also attended the Sox-Rays game in Port Charlotte on Saturday.

Erik and I have been great friends for about 18 years or so. We come from neighboring suburbs of Boston and played basketball and baseball on our respective town teams against each other for a few years before enrolling in The Roxbury Latin School for seventh grade in the fall of 1992. We were then teammates, on every school baseball, basketball and football team we played on for six years. Erik went on to Williams College and played both baseball and football. I went to Penn to try and play baseball but was cut after the fall season my freshman year. Doug Glanville or Mark DeRosa I was not.

We stayed with my cousin Jared. Jared is the Red Sox Coordinator of Professional Scouting and of all the more senior members of the Sox front office, works most closely with former Royals GM Allard Baird. He was kind enough to let us stay with him, to get us great seats for both games and to let us hang around for the weekend with many of his baseball operations colleagues.

Needless to say, Erik and I had a blast. What follows is a series of photos we snapped, with some commentary where I feel like offering it.



Jed Lowrie getting loose before the game.



Josh Beckett started the game for the Sox.



This was a cool match-up to watch. Beckett against the Marlins uber-prospect, Michael Stanton. Stanton is enormous. He could have played baseball and football at USC but instead chose to sign with the Marlins and as an 18-year old in the South Atlantic League, hit .293/.381/.611 (39 home runs) in 2008. Baseball America recently ranked Stanton the number 16 prospect in baseball.

Also, while we moved around a bit, these were our seats for the game. Pretty good.





A few shots of the Marlins on-deck circle with Cameron Maybin warming up and another with Cody Ross walking up to the plate. If the Marlins are to make any noise this season, they will need these two to produce.




This is Adam Mills. I was pumped when I found out Mills would be throwing, since I interviewed and profiled him on this site before the 2007 draft. He struck out two in two perfect innings of work.



A view of City of Palms Park from the right field pavilion.



We liked this guy's jersey.



While Jared was in college, he worked for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod League. Taylor Tankersley, then at Alabama, was on his team. Here he is warming up in the visitors' bullpen.



We already talked about the #16 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. Here is #17, first baseman Lars Anderson.



This is Zach Daeges, a minor league left fielder who hit a line shot for a two-run home run off of Chris Volstad. He's 25 and a fringe prospect but he's a career .314/.415/.504 professional hitter who has not had an on-base below .400 since his freshman year at Creighton.




Erik and I, then Jared and I standing in left field.



After the game, Bill James hung around behind the plate. We had met before at breakfast last spring when Rich and his son Joe came to Boston for a game. He was nice enough to engage in a conversation about the makeup of the Sox team and pose for this picture with me.



This is the view from our seats for the Sox-Rays game on Saturday.



Jacoby Ellsbury getting set to lead off the game.



James Shields was a pleasure to watch from this vantage point. He throws a heavy fastball and his change-up looks unhittable.



Grant Balfour looked pretty good too. All of the scouts' radar guns came out when he took to the hill.



Four friends taking in the game from a center field pavilion high-top table.



Like many other things in Florida, I didn't quite know what to make of this sign.


Spring Training is a great take for any baseball fan. Even though the WBC depleted some of the talent we were able to see on the field, the chance to be up close and personal with so many in and around the game is something that just wouldn't happen once the regular season starts.

We had so much fun last weekend that we've already decided to pencil in a Red Sox Spring Training trip for each year we can possibly do it.


Good job, Sully. Looks like you had a great time. There's nothing better than spring training, especially the way you did it. I was hopeful of going to Arizona this spring but am not sure I can pull it off. But, boy, am I itching for the season to start.

"We liked this guy's jersey." Did that guy piss himself?

Looks like might have!

Cool pics. I love going to Grapefruit League games.

I've also never understood the Rays motto. "We Are One Team"??? Heaven forbid I find out the TB Rays are actually 3 teams.

A couple friends and I have been down to spring training games the past two years, so I can vouch for the fact that they are, in fact, a blast. We didn't get to go this year (the wife had twins which puts a crimp in most plans), but I'm hoping/planning to re-start the tradition next year.

Glad you enjoyed yourself, Sully. See you in Fort Myers in 2010!

Funny, I thought the Rays were at least three teams. Glad they cleared it up for me.

DRAT. My comment went into moderation, and by the time it was cleared Alex nicked my joke! That's life.

You've inspired me to get down there next year.

Also, I encourage everyone out there to check out Cape Cod League ball. Some of the great sports experiences of my childhood were at those games.

In reference to other, often less fun childhood experiences...Your site is great. John Eliot would be proud.