Yesterday was reporting day and a holiday, so I had an opportunity to go back to the Ranch to see the guys....and to see how the fields were holding up after the rains (back at work today, but counting down to my return on Friday!).
First, I saw a few 'pens, including Kershaw, Jensen and others. Since they were all throwing at the Minor League strings area at the same time, I kinda had to focus on one at a time. To be very honest, I only watched Kershaw when he was throwing (about 35 pitches) and it didn't start very well- he bounced about 3 curves and was wild up with his change. The fastball was good throughout. When Mattingly stepped in, Clayton was fine and showed good control on the outer half. I found it interesting that before he stepped into the box, Mattingly asked each pitcher if it was ok.
After Kershaw was done I chased him down for an autograph for a friend and he signed for everyone. There were "only" about 50 people so that may change next week when the crowds swell. He politely chided a guy for asking for more than one autograph saying that he was trying to get through everyone.
I then went to see the position players hit and field. Nothing special about the hitters. BP wasn't as impressive with the long ball and I think the bloom may be off the rose for me since it hadn't been 4.5 months since I last saw BP. ;-)
Something funny did happen when Sands was hitting. I think Hansen was throwing and Sands popped one up on the infield and one of the coaches told him not to worry about it because it was only a minor league ball and that's why he just missed. When they were doing pick-up, one or two of the balls actually were minor league balls and they showed him. He quickly replied that he already knew because he read the label as the pitch was coming.
On defense, I saw a lot of good things. I've picked on Dee Gordon for his defense in the past, but on this day he looked very smooth, confident and comfortable. If he plays like he did yesterday, I'll take back every bad thing I've said about the kid. After he was done with the BP fielding he and Loney did a drill where the planted their feet shoulder width apart and a coach hit line drive grounders at them. The goal was to help them feel more fluid with the upper body when fielding ground balls and short hops. Are you sitting down? Dee was way more impressive than James. In fact, James took a second round by himself and did better. To be fair, it seemed that it was the first time he had ever done this and Dee looked like he had been working on this drill. I spoke to Dee after and he said he learned a lot in the last few months and feels more confident. It shows.
Castro and Uribe took balls mostly at third (can't remember seeing Blake take any). Uribe's arm was not accurate, but it was only day one.
Outfielders were working on balls to the wall.
That's all for now. I'll be back in AZ on Friday. We'll see what I see.