Last day in Sarasota… ever

first things first — Congrats are in order to the usual author of this blog and his family. Mark Sheldon and his wife’s clan got bigger by one baby boy this morning. Everyone is healthy and happy. So Mazel Tov to the Sheldons and all their family.

On to some nuts and bolts…

Well, here we are at the end of a very long Spring Training. Before I wax nostalgic about anything, allow me to post the lineup for one last time:

Taveras  CF
Dickerson  LF
Votto  1B
Phillips  2B
Bruce  RF
Encarnacion  3B
Hernandez  C
Hairston  SS
Volquez  P

Pirates pitcher was supposed to be TBA, but he’s been traded for Jesse Chavez. The Buccos will be using a DH today, for whatever that’s worth.

The Reds head to Zebulon, North Carolina after the game to play a game on Friday against a “Futures team” in their new Double-A affiliate’s home. They’ll do that again in Dayton on Saturday with Opening Day within reach on Monday.

Still no word on the No. 5 starter (or other roster decisions). Homer Bailey hasn’t been told — “I don’t know anything,” Bailey said. Baker said, “We have to confer before I make any call on that. We have to confer with Walt [Jocketty] and Dick [Pole], my coaches and a couple advisors upstairs. That’s how you do things. I’m the one who’s usually talking to people about it, but it’s a joint thing. If not, why do you have advisors if you don’t use them. The President, he has his cabinet to advise him. That’s why you have a staff.”

“I don’t want it easy,” he continued about how Bailey certainly made it interesting. “Like I said real early, ‘I’m just going to give Homer the ball.’ I give other guys the bat. All you can do is give them opportunity and try to be as fair as possible to everybody concerned. The rest is up to them. You can hit for them or pitch for them. You can try to help them be better in those departments through instruction and coaching and you hope they get it or retain it, which is probably more important.”

OK, the nuts and bolts are out of the way… I wanted to take a few minutes to appreciate my surroundings. Today is the Reds’ final game at old Ed Smith Stadium here in Sarasota. I’ve only been down here for two weeks, but I have to say it’s a pretty nice location to be in for a long stretch of time. Sure, the facility could use some upgrading, but I’d think a team like the Orioles, who already have their Minor League facilitiy over around here, would do well to move across the state here.

All the folks that work here in the facility are top notch. I finally got over to Gus’s yesterday for breakfast and wish now I had made more time to stuff my face there. If ever you’re in the area, be sure to go by there for breakfast or lunch. That’s good eats.

The Reds staff has been great in making me feel welcomed. It’s not always so easy to come in as an outsider for a few weeks and take over a daily job like covering a beat, but the Reds, from Dusty Baker to the great PR staff, has made it exceptionally easy.

The guys on the beat here are fantastic. They’ve all been extremely helpful as I tried to catch up to what was going on here. John Fay, Hal McCoy and the AP team have been great to work with and they all do a fantastic job.

On a personal note, I’d like to say that spening the last two weeks working alongside, driving to and from the park with, dining with, just simply talking with, Hall of Famer Hal McCoy has been one of the highlights of my career. I’ve always known his work and have met him a time or two and my impression had always been that he’s a guy who works hard, is great as his job and is completely unassuming about it all. It’s so nice (and refreshing) when someone as a person surpasses expectations and he has certainly done that and more. Covering Spring Training is always enjoyable — if exhausting — but hanging with Hal has made it a real pleasure.

OK, I’ve taken up enough of your time with my sentamentality. Daddy Sheldon should be back in a little while to guide you through the 2009 season. Thanks for indulging me the last few weeks. Hope I didn’t bore you too much…

If there’s any news today regarding roster moves, Sheffield sightings, etc. I’ll be sure to let you know.


With Daryl Ward and Keppinger gone, who will be taking the bulk of the time at the 1st base backup? Gomes doesnt have much experience there, I cant see the Reds relying on his defense at first base so soon.

Congrats to the Sheldon family! I hope everyone is healthy and doing well.Russ

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