Spring Training Trip: Day #1

·      Arrived in Tampa around 9:30 and made it to Dunedin just after 11:00 following a couple of detours.  Ate at Dunedin Brewery, which is billed as the oldest microbrewery in the state of Florida.  Cool, laid pack spot with good food and good beer.  By the time we left, the place was all but filled likely from a combination of the normal lunch crowd and game-goers.  There is also free parking across the street from the restaurant and the stadium is only a half of a mile walk from there.  As you get closer, lots are charging $5, $10, and $20 for parking which makes eating at the Brewery and walking to the game from there a no-brainer.

·      Florida Auto Exchange Stadium was not quite as nice.  The concourse is incredibly cramped, far more so than a stadium like Harry Grove, Prince George’s Stadium or Ripken Stadium.  It was no big deal because I don’t go to games for the ability to take a leisurely stroll on the concourse.  I only point it out because it was far more narrow than I’ve ever seen (Ed Smith included) and getting around did take a little more time.   Another small, relatively meaningless complaint is that the seats (at least where we were right behind the O’s dugout) didn’t lift up so it was a bit of pain when people exited/entered the row.  I know that’s a common feature at minor league stadiums but given that we spend the vast majority of our time at OPACY, it stood out.

·      The rain delay was annoying in the sense they weren’t calling for any rain (10% change) and Dark Sky wasn’t even picking up the drizzle that went on before the heavier stuff came a little after 1:00.  Field drained well though and they got started as quickly as possible.  Kill time on the concourse during the delay.  We’ve been through far worse.

·      Lots of Canadians at the game.  Saw quite a few Canadians license plates on the road.

·      Mike Wright was bringing the heat if the Stadium gun we even moderately accurate.  He reached 98 MPH once and was clocked at 95 MPH several times.  He was hitting 93-94 regularly.  He had good command, particularly in the first inning.

·      Logan Verrett was impressive we thought.  You can see why the Orioles took him.  Nice, smooth repeatable motion and decent stuff.  There is almost certainly not going to be a place for him on the roster this year, although I could have easily seen him stick in a different season.

·      Some sloppiness in the field.  Cabrera cut in front of Flaherty to make a play back up the middle on a ball that should have been Flaherty’s.  He made the play, which is the most important thing but it clearly wasn’t his ball.

·      De Aza got a good piece of the ball he hit out.  If he gets 450 PA’s, I wouldn’t be shocked if he hits 15+ homeruns.

·      Buck watched most of the game from seats outside the dugout and regularly talked to John Russell.  “Balkin” Bob Davidson was behind the plate and made his way over to talk to Buck in between an inning.  Couldn’t hear the entire conversation but it was centerd on the new rules which Buck (of course) seemed to have some animated views on.  Davidson walked away saying “I let the young guys worry about that” which seems about right.

·      On our way out, we saw Duquette (dressed inconspicuously in an Orioles hoodie) using a bathroom on the concourse.  Just funny in the sense that he totally blends in and you would never know who he was. 

·      We ate dinner at Caragiulo’s.  We went there last year.  Really affordable but high quality Italian restaurant.  Definitely recommended.