Of Lasik, warm weather, new digs and the rolling Tide
Some pre-reporting day observations, as about 20 players worked out at the Charlotte Sports Park:
+ LHP David Price didn’t report with a new look, but he is looking at things differently, having undergone Lasik eye surgery during the winter. Price said his vision is extremely bad, and he tired of wearing contacts, with the hassles of dust, wind and dryness. “It was just annoying,’’ he said. The new view, he said, has been great.
+ SS Jason Bartlett showed up early just so he could get out, run around and take ground balls on the field after spending the off-season in rainy northern California, where his family lives, and a few weeks in snowy New York, where his wife’s family is from. He got to hit off a tee and take some batting practice, but missed being on the field and said next year he’ll be back in Florida earlier.
+ New C Kelly Shoppach was definitely excited to be with the Rays, and looking forward to being part of a contending team, though first he had to get past the introductions and new-ness of the situation. Wednesday, he said, made him feel like a rookie. “Actually less than that,’’ he said. “I feel like I’m a kid coming into his very first spring training.’’ Gabe Kapler, a teammate with the Red Sox in 2005, helped show and introduce him around.
+ RHP Lance Cormier – an Alabama product - showed up with a stack of Tide football SEC and national championship shirts and a large crimson flag, primarily so he could “collect” on a friendly bet with home clubhouse/equipment manager Chris Westmoreland, a huge Gators fan. Westmoreland now has to wear Tide gear to and from the field every day for spring training and his office will be decorated with the flag and a large photo of Tim Tebow crying on the sideline. Had the Gators won, Cormier would have been wearing UF gear under his uniform and to and from the field, and his locker would have been decorated. Cormier acknowledged he is really going to enjoy the payoff: “Oh yea, because he would’ve.’’
+ SS prospect Tim Beckman has an interesting look, a combination Mohawk and fade hairstyle.