|Former stars, seperate sites prepare baby Red Sox for minor league season
|Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski takes some time away from the cage to sign an autograph for a fan at Boston's minor league spring training complex in Fort Myers, Fla.
FORT MYERS, Fla, –
Boston minor leaguer Mickey Hall was late exiting the Red Sox spring training practice fields in the final days of spring training.
Hall didn’t mind the delay. He was experiencing one of the best aspects of being a Red Sox minor leaguer.
Hall spent the prior half hour taking extra batting practice with the help of Boston legend Carl Yastrzemski.
“He told me to relax the hands,” said Hall, an outfielder who will be with Single-A Greenville of the South Atlantic League when the minor league season officially opens today.
“I was getting a little tense with my bottom hand. He said, your brain is naturally going to tell you to tense up. You don’t have to worry about that. Just keep everything relaxed and loose. The quicker you are, the more power you have. Brut strength isn’t going to give you more power. Softer and quicker is going to give you more power.”
A 22-year-old in his fourth season with the Sox, Hall isn’t old enough to remember the playing days of Yaz and Dwight Evans. That doesn’t temper the enthusiasm of receiving advice from some of the best players in Rod Sox history.
“Just being able to throw ideas off of them and see what they think about stuff is great,” said Hall. You can ask them, hey what were you thinking in this situation at the plate? What are some of the things that you did that might help me?”
With so many legends walking the ball fields, Red Sox minor league prospects could easily become suffocated by members of the Red Sox nation. The set-up of the complex, however, offers them a bit of a reprieve.
Boston is one of the rare organizations that separate its major league and minor league camps. When the big league Sox are playing at City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, the minor league players work out at the Red Sox training facility, about two miles east amid the industrial complexes of Edison Ave.
Many of the Red Sox minor leaguers don’t mind the split.
“I think it’s kind of a good thing for us because that way you don’t have a lot of guys getting caught up watching them or trying to do too much just because of the media being here,” Greenville catcher Joe Egan said. “It kind of gives us our time to go out there and do what we need to do.”
The teams aren’t separated completely. A few minor leaguers made the two-mile trip down Edison Ave. to participate in major league games each afternoon.
The trips offer insight into the way Red Sox major league players get ready for the season.
“I was fortunate enough that I got to come run some bases with them, so I got to see how they run their business,” Greenville outfielder Reid Engel said. “I’d like the big leaguers here more so that we got to see how they got there and what they do on a daily basis.”
For others, the separate complexes serve as a motivating factor – another perk gained by making the major league club.
“You don’t get a lot of the hype that they get at the big league level,” said Tommy Hottovy, who starts the season today at Double-A Portland of the Eastern League. “But you know, we’re all kind of one big family. That’s what kind of makes it unique. When you do make it to that big league squad, you’re with the big league guys at the big league complex.”
Check out my blog for more on Red Sox minor league players and fans.