After acquiring the media credential the Dodgers were so gracious to grant me, the first stop was the back field. Seemingly every player in camp was present, as the team was working on rundown drills.
Dee Gordon was the loudest, which is no surprise, but he seemed to be enjoying himself well enough. This included an interesting gesture after completing one leg of the drill.
It was just cool to be so close to the players.
Some ESPN guys were there, including Jim Bowden, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk and Buster Olney. Aside from Hershiser, "meh."
I saw guys like Zack Greinke, Clayton Kerhsaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu up close. I also saw Yasiel Puig, who is as physically impressive as advertised. And I somehow snapped what could be my favorite Puig photo to date.
That's Scott Wingo he's hugging. It was a nice moment between 2012 teammates, even if Puig is questioning why I'm snapping a photo of a "bro" moment.
As I was about to make my way to the back fields when I heard, "Eric. Hey, how was the Dr Pepper burger?"
Yes, I had been mistaken for Eric Stephen (True Blue LA). I told Ryan Denton and his father Harold who I was -- and he knew. Oh my God, I felt like a celebrity (can't think of a better word), even if I was the farthest thing from it. It was just awesome to get positive feedback from a fan of "Dugout Blues" in person. I was flattered.
Oh, and a heads-up: Stephen had some choice words about the burger and his experience at the Metro Sportz Grill. Here's a preview from Twitter last night:
I would like to cordially invite everyone at the Metro Sportz Grill to take a trip to the Grand Canyon, and then jumpHe'll explain in the next episode of the TBLA podcast.
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) March 14, 2013
After the players broke and went to different sections of the facility, it was off to the minor-league fields -- specifically to see Carl Crawford make his in-game Dodger debut. I wrote about it for the Yahoo! Sports Contributor Network.
"Los Angeles Dodgers' outfielder was the designated hitter for six plate appearances in an exhibition minor-league game on March 14 -- the first time he's faced live, in-game pitching since being acquired by the team in August.As soon as I nail down some decent video editing software, I'll post video of his first at-bat.
Crawford had three plate appearance against Meiji University -- a Japanese university -- and three against Dodger minor-league pitchers.
Crawford struck out swinging in his first at-bat. He would double in his next against Dodger right-hander Sean White. The Meiji University bench erupted, playfully, with cheers after the double. He would follow those first two plate appearances with back-to-back singles. He would fly out in the following plate appearance before drawing a walk in his last against Dodgers' prospect Jonathan Martinez."
Three interesting Dodger prospects also played in the game -- 2012 No. 1 pick Corey Seager, Jeremy Rathjen and Martinez.
In the two at-bats I saw, Seager struck out looking and grounded out second base. No big deal. What is a big deal is his size.
When Jared Massey and I had Ross Stripling on the podcast, Stripling said Seager was 6'5, 220 lbs. People tend to exaggerate -- not just baseball players -- which is what I thought happened here. Well, I think I owe Stripling an apology because Seager is every bit of 6'5/220. He's only 18 years old and is probably already too big for shortstop, but he's going to keep playing there until the Dodgers move him to third base.
Rathjen, playing left field, also made an appearance and struck out swinging on a high fastball.
Then it was off to the actual game. I know Arizona is hot, but it was obscenely hot having to sit in the sun for any extended period of time. Suffice it to say, I spent most of my time in the press box.
Puig got in the game and flew out to right field in his only at-bat. Word is, he'll be starting on Friday and Sunday at Camelback Ranch, so that should be fun.
Photo credits: Dustin Nosler, Feelin' Kinda Blue