It was a chilly day but an uneventful trip to McCoy. I still don't understand why our cab driver didn't want to take us into the parking lot, but at the end of our walk we were treated to Dunkin Donuts' hot chocolate. Okay, about three tablespoons of hot chocolate. But still. We went in and tried not to get too absorbed in the hallway photos and trophies so we could locate the players first. We found a long line that led into the clubhouse and to a table with Jonathan Van Every, Justin Masterson and Ron Johnson. My favorite McCoy usher was there and gave us sheets with the players' photos on them, which was terrific since I'd have had nothing for Van Every otherwise! He seemed more relaxed than he was at the team store. Justin gave me a very warm greeting and actually commented on how much we'd seen of each other in the last week before I could say anything! He signed the photo Cyn so graciously took of me at New Stars. I had a great photo of RJ that I'd been saving for this sort of thing! I wish I'd taken more photos, but I wasn't sure how long it would take us to get through the other line, so we snapped Steve in Jed Lowrie's locker (Steve has a favorite pitcher, so he's entitled to have a favorite prospect!) and then headed off to get in line for Jed, Michael Bowden and Dusty Brown.
We had pretty much just taken our place in line when they held things up for a Q&A session (though not before I'd snuck up for a photo of Bowden only to get busted immediately--he busted Cyn too! Those pitchers have eagles' eyes...).
All three pups were well-spoken and had some good stories. Jed, in response to a query about his biggest hit, described his walkoff 2-run home run last October in the Arizona Fall League... in front of about 50 people. He said his teammates didn't know what to do--instead of coming out to celebrate they just stood in the dugout. You could hear his amused disappointment very clearly as he described his turn around third base!
Bowden, asked to assess Dusty as a catcher, explained with a guilty laugh his appreciation for the fact that Dusty absorbs a lot of abuse: "I throw a lot of balls in the dirt," and Dusty apparently ends up peppered with bruises. Bowden also noted in another question that while he was drafted by the Sox out of high school, he has a clause in his contract for scholarship money so that he can go to school when the time comes. Dusty talked about his experiences catching Charlie Zink and John Barnes.
All three players were very poised, relaxed and personable; they clearly appreciated the presence of all the fans and the kids. Had to wonder as well whether the Rookie Development Program contributed to their interactions with all of us!
When the line started up again, I was able to have Bowden sign another shot from Spring Training; he went out of his way to thank me again for some prints I'd given him at the Team Store. I had Jed sign a print of Cyn's photo of the two of us at New Stars, easily the best picture taken of me in the last ten years. Had another beautiful brooding shot of Dusty for him.
Then, we were off to explore the hallways of McCoy! All manner of beautiful framed photos, exhibits, baseballs, trophies and other memorabilia. We opted not to indulge in the provided hot dogs, soda and crunchy snacks, though certainly many did!
On the way out, we stopped fatefully in the team store, where the devil in the person of a seemingly innocent father and son egged me on to try on a Clay Buchholz* game-worn jacket that is now mysteriously hanging on my door. I'd imagine the mystery will be solved when the VISA bill arrives.
*And probably about ten other players. It has torn cuffs, the elastic is shot, and its last wearer may have rolled in the dirt in it. Buck's name, written in Sharpie, is spelled wrong--welcome to AAA, pup. But it's mine now!
And that was probably that for midwinter baseball. Now looms the abyss: five and a half weeks before I board a flight to Ft. Myers. Although... next weekend I see Bronson Arroyo. Does that count?