BRADENTON, Fla. — By my count, 47 of 55 players have already checked in to camp and were on the practice fields this afternoon under warm, sunny skies. The seven exceptions were Jose Ascanio (visa problems), Brian Friday, Pedro Ciriaco, Ronny Cedeno, Alex Presley, John Bowker, Matt Diaz and Lyle Overbay.
Position players are not required to be here until Saturday, but just like with minicamp, that didn’t stop a lot of them from showing up. “We were getting rumblings that a bunch of them were going to show up and they did,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s another sign of them taking accountability and responsibility for what’s in front of us.”
»»» GM Neal Huntington indicated a decision is near — in fact, it might already have been made — about whether Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek will be the closer. “We’ve got to sit down with the people involved and let them know,” Huntington said. “As soon as we do that, we’ll let you guys know. It won’t be something that goes through spring training.” Hurdle said the decision will be finalized before the first Grapefruit League game.
»»» Huntington met with the players for about 20 minutes this morning before the start of the first workout. “It was more of an informal meeting,” Huntington said. “A good opportunity to hear what the trainer has to say and cover the logistics of spring training. Clint also took the opportunity to welcome them to camp and let them know the expectations.”
»»» Injury updates: Donnie Veal (elbow surgery) won’t be on the fields much this spring. Kevin Hart (shoulder surgery) is in “no-throw” mode for a while, but Huntington said he still has to chance to be game-ready by the end of spring training. Tyler Yates (elbow surgery) will compete for a big league bullpen job.
»»» Four groups of pitchers threw bullpen sessions. The first ones on the mound were Paul Maholm, Jose Veras, Hanrahan and Kevin Correia. They were followed by Joe Beimel, Aaron Thompson, Justin Wilson, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald, Meek, Scott Olsen, Kyle McPherson, Rudy Owens, Mike Crotta and Jeff Locke.
»»» After throwing, each group moved to Field 2 for fielding drills. Meek shook his head as he watched McDonald sprint smoothly from the mound to the first base bag. “It takes you like five strides to get over there,” Meek yelled. “It takes me 15 on my tiny, little legs!”