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Christina, John, and David have painted a vivid picture of spring training through their eloquent use of words the past few weeks. I, on the other hand, prefer to use actual images to give you my visions of spring. The following photos and video come from the first leg of my spring training trip in Fort Myers, Florida.

Hanley and Manny in a meeting of the minds

Hanley and Manny in a meeting of the minds


 
Joe Mauer back behind the plate in a minor league game
 
 
And Mauer at bat
 
 
 
Evan Longoria warms up prior to facing the Marlins
 
 
Hall of Famer Paul Molitor with Carl Pavano in the bullpen warming up
 
 
Jeremy Hellickson receiving instruction in the bullpen
 
 
Out of Control BBQ fire on right field patio at City of Palms Park (Check out the players reactions!)
 
Quick Thoughts from the Grapefruit League
 
– Not too many things get me pumped up like standing in, around, or over a bullpen and listening to the pop of the catcher's glove. And there's no place like spring training to get my bullpen fix.
 
– As I mentioned in one of my Tweets this week, Kyle Farnsworth still throws hard. The scout in me will say he hit 95 at least a few times. It doesn't mean I like him any better, and I still don't see a lot of movement on his fastball.
 
– I got to see former Rays #1 draft pick Tim Beckham on the exact same field as I did last year (at the Lee County Sports Complex back fields). My immediate thought was that he got bigger. Beckham played SS on Wednesday, but like most everyone else, I really can't see him staying there for long.
 
– It was 43 degrees in New York and Minneapolis at game time on Wednesday. It was 79 degrees in Fort Myers. Just saying.
 
– Twins prospect Shooter Hunt walked 3 guys in the one inning I saw him work. Not a great start to the minor league spring training season, but I'll cut him some slack. It's early.
 
– It was great to see Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the same lineup for the first time since July 7, 2010 at Toronto.
 
– Not something you hear everyday from the public address announcer at the ballpark…"Will Mr. Ken Davidoff please report to guest services. Mr. Ken Davidoff to guest services."
 
– Jeremy Hellickson looked great in the pen while warming up for his start against the Marlins Tuesday. He showed a plus fastball, curve (seemed more like a slider to me), and changeup. On the mound, however, it was a different story. The reason? A blister on the ring finger of his right (pitching) hand hampered Hellickson and forced him to leave the game early.
  
– Watching Carl Pavano pitch had me wondering how he gets anyone out. His velocity has diminished, and his pitches are flat. Guess his command keeps him in games.
 
– I had a chance to see many good prospects this week. Among them (with Kevin Goldstein's team ranking in parenthesis)…Twins: Miguel Sano (1), Aaron Hicks (2), Oswaldo Arcia (6), Liam Hendricks (10), Eddie Rosario (18), and Daniel Ortiz (19). Red Sox: Sean Coyle (16). Tampa Bay: Jeremy Hellickson (1), Desmond Jennings (3), Tim Beckham (18).
 
Max Scherzer grooved a fastball to Pedroia on Friday that Dustin crushed over the left field wall. Now if Max had played MLB The Show, he'd know you need to bust Pedroia up and in.
 
As I get set to "go west," I'd like to thank the Twins, Red Sox, Rays, and the entire city of Fort Myers for their hospitality. They were wonderful hosts and put on a great show.
 
See you in Phoenix in a few days!
 
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vtadave
3/19
It just kills me that the Rays passed on Buster Posey to draft Tim Beckham. I get going for the upside, but that's looking like an epic fail. Of course I'm talking about an organization that's drafted Jeremy Hellickson in the fourth round, Desmond Jennings in the tenth, and Matt Moore in the eighth, so it's hard to be too critical.
joechris96
3/19
True. Everyone is going to miss from time to time though. The Rays have done a good job in making many of their top picks count.
JimmyJack
3/19
This would sure be a cool feature if you could do this all season.
joechris96
3/19
Thanks. We do plan on incorporating more photos and video this season. It may come from batting practice, amateur scouting visits, minor league games, or interviews. We think this will bring the game closer to everyone.
alskor
3/19
I saw Beckham as well a couple weeks back and he definitely looks bigger, especially the lower half. Completely agree with your assessment.
CrashburnAlley
3/19
Very cool pics and video, Joe. Really like the one of Hellickson.
joechris96
3/19
Thanks Bill!
Daddyboy
3/22
I noticed in the Twins bullpen video that "Osterbrock" was catching bullpens. The Twins have a lefty (this bullpen catcher was left-handed) named Dan Osterbrock. Do other pitchers seriously catch bullpens? Isn't this risky? Couldn't they hire college or high school catchers to do that? Hire...heck, I'd do it for free, as would most high school catchers I'd guess. Anyone have any insight on this?
joechris96
3/22
Daddyboy...The pitchers weren't throwing at full speed...just stretching out their arms and working on their mechanics off the hill. That's why they took turns throwing to each other. When they go full speed, the catchers are real AND in full gear.