Update from Jupiter!
Hello all, as Dan mentioned- radio broadcaster, Steve Selby and I (Jordan Johnson, Media Relations Manager) have traveled down to Jupiter, FL for the weekend to check out the possible 2011 Memphis Redbirds and get things organized before the season starts.
Being my first time attending spring training, I was pleasantly surprised when we got here and were immediately engulfed in baseball…boy, have I missed it. We arrived around 1:00 pm on Wednesday just in time to catch the last few at-bats of the Redbirds’ game before going over to the main field at Roger Dean Stadium to watch the St. Louis Cardinals go up against the New York Mets. My first day at spring training and I already got to see a full big league game, not bad, eh?
Well, after the Mets won 3-2 that night, we got acclimated to our hotel rooms, found a place to grab some dinner before heading to bed and waking up to do (almost) the same thing we had done the day before.
Bright and early Thursday morning we headed to the back fields and were greeted by our field staff for the 2011 season, manager Chris ‘Hammer’ Maloney, pitching coach Blaise Ilsley, hitting coach Mark Budaska and athletic trainer Christophe Conroy, as well as a new addition to our team, strength and conditioning coach Sean Johnson. They got down to business pretty quickly after a full minor league camp meeting, dispersing the players into different groups to begin their stretches and drills for the day.
Steve and I jumped in the car around 11:00 am, making our way to Port St. Lucie, the spring training home of the New York Mets to watch the Memphis Redbirds take on the triple-A affiliate to the Mets, the Buffalo Bisons. Although the game ended in a tie, the Redbirds looked sharp and if this was a preview of our 2011 season- let me tell you, we are in store for an exciting one!
Friday morning, we had the pleasure of listening to Tony La Russa address the entire minor league camp. He spoke for roughly an hour, inspiring and encouraging the players to always do their best. I was lucky enough to be in attendance for this momentous occasion and am grateful for it.
Later that afternoon we were finally joined by colleague Mark Anderson, Director of Operations. We threw him right into the baseball groove as we visited the Marlins’ side of Roger Dean stadium and watched the Memphis Redbirds take on the New Orleans Zephyrs. The Redbirds kept the lead up until the ninth inning when Jason Buursma gave up two runs and suffered the loss.
On another note, I was able to watch our number one prospect in the Cardinals organization, Shelby Miller, pitch while there. Miller is a player that is full of talent and clearly knows how to utilize it. He will be a great asset to this farm system and I’m excited to see him in Memphis- hopefully soon!
Funny thing is- today I was convinced it was actually Friday again for some reason…I even called the office to check in and was seriously confused when no one answered. Whoops! Once I realized it was Saturday, morning drills, stretching, BP and hitting had already taken place and intersquad play had began. The Memphis Redbirds faced the Springfield Cardinals as the Palm Beach Cardinals played against the Batavia Muckdogs. I made my way between both fields to observe each part of the developing farm system the Cardinals possess.
Unbelievable is the only word that comes to my mind, seriously. I watched Maikel Cleto, a pitcher we obtained through the Brendan Ryan trade this winter, throw 96-98 mph while topping out at 100 mph…I also caught a glimpse of Zack Cox, third baseman in the Cardinals organization, only to make it back in time to watch Mark Hamilton complete a triple play during the Memphis/Springfield game. Like I said- unbelievable.
Maikel Cleto >> Zack Cox>>
We were able to see the Cardinals play the Marlins this afternoon- Albert Pujols is ready for the season. He said this when he went 2-for-3 with back-to-back home runs and three RBI in the game. There’s nothing like watching a legend in action.
There’s also something about getting to see guys play in the big leagues that you’ve watched climb through the farm system, working with them when they stop in Memphis and cheering for them when it’s their turn to suit up for a St. Louis Cardinals jersey with their last name sewn to the back of it.
Only two more glorious days of spring training are left for Steve, Mark and I (sad face)…I’ll continue to soak in every second of it until I board the plane to head back to Memphis.
Check out ALL the pictures I took while being in Jupiter on our facebook page, and don’t forget to ‘like’ us while you’re scoping them out! (http://www.facebook.com/MemphisRedbirds)