Liquor, cockroaches, grand hotels, old ballparks, national anthems and more spring training fun


LAKELAND, FL — As this post goes live on Monday morning I am somewhere on I-4. Or I-75. Or I-275. I don’t know, I’m heading to Sarasota to check out the Twins-Orioles game and as I’m typing this I don’t know which way I’m going. Just that I’m going early. Because this is the Grapefruit League and to get from one place to another takes time and miles and after three years of spending spring training in Arizona I’m quite frankly spoiled.

The weekend contained a lot of driving too, but a lot of fun as well. After I checked out of the Tigers game on Friday afternoon I found some local culture in Lakeland:


Fun fact: in Florida, if less than 10% of an establishment’s income is derived from food, smoking is allowed. This place sells no food. It does sell strong drinks for low prices, however, and as long as you can transport yourself back to the early 1990s and deal with the smoke, you’re all good.

On Saturday I took a trip to Tampa and watched Masahiro Tanaka’s debut. In case you missed it, here is a summary of that day. It was a day of big things. Steinbrenner Field is a big park by spring training standards. I spoke with baseball’s biggest star of the past two decades, though only for a brief moment. The media horde which descended on Tanaka was as big as it gets. Then, when I got back to Lakeland, I found something small:


In my hotel room bathroom. Which meant that my hotel room immediately became my former hotel room because, no, no way. I won’t say which hotel it was because perhaps it was a freakish, isolated incident and I don’t wish to cast aspersions, but dude. So I packed up my stuff and went where I should’ve gone in the first place: The Lakeland Terrace Hotel. Much more civilized. At least as long as you can deal with the trains that go by pretty frequently, but I can deal with such things. Bygone age stuff, you know. Really, all of Lakeland is civilized and noble.

With accommodations sorted it was back to baseball on Sunday. The Blue Jays home in Dunedin, which I liked very much:


Like the Lakeland Terrace it is old, at least by spring training standards. It’s unassuming. Small, sitting comfortably in a neighborhood, not drawing too much attention to itself. Easy to get from one side of the park to the other quickly. A nice beer selection. Good sight lines. In this day and age it is a dinosaur and I’m sure for the players it’s shabby and cramped compared to all of the latest fancy facilities, but it’s a ballpark in every sense of the word and I kinda loved it.

One of the things I loved about it was that there wasn’t constant music blaring. Not having a jumbotron or video board of any kind to speak of probably goes into that, but it was welcome. Although there was one instance in which having some audio would have been helpful: when the U.S. and Canadian national anthems were sung. A children’s choir was on hand to do the honors, but there was no microphone or musical accompaniment. So this happened:

A nice effort by most involved. And yes, that’s a Dunedin Blue Jays cap I’m wearing. When you’re bald and you show up to a sun-drenched ballpark without a cap, you have to do — and buy — certain things to protect yourself.

As for the game, I got the Yankees for the third day in a row. Just dumb happenstance, I suppose. The only two starters they brought with them were Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury and they still cleaned the clock of an almost-all-Opening-Day Blue Jays lineup in a pretty sloppy game. Heck, it was March 2. That sort of thing happens.

And spring training baseball happens the rest of this week. I’ll be updating later this morning from Sarasota. And a different park every day this week. If you find yourself in or around Sarasota, Orlando, Clearwater, Bradenton or Fort Myers, by all means, say hello. Otherwise, keep checking in here to HBT.

Tim Wallach to interview for the Rockies managerial opening

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20:  Bench coach Tim Wallach of the Los Angeles Dodgers poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Camelback Ranch on February 20, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Rockies have been granted permission to interview Marlins bench coach Tim Wallach about their managerial opening.

Wallach was a bench coach for Don Mattingly with both the Dodgers and Marlins. Before that he was a third base coach for L.A. and before that he managed in Triple-A where he was the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year in 2009 with Albuquerque. He likewise served time as the Dodgers hitting coach. He previously interviewed for managers gigs in Detroit and Seattle but didn’t make the cut.

Walt Weiss was fired as Rockies manager after going 283-265 in four seasons.

Here are the Cubs and Indians World Series Rosters

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 24:  Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians looks on during Media Day workouts for the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 24, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Cubs and Indians have each released their World Series rosters.

As expected, the Cubs roster includes Kyle Schwarber, whom Joe Maddon said earlier this afternoon will DH tonight. The Indians roster includes Danny Salazar, who has been out since early September.


Carl Edwards Jr.
Kyle Hendricks
Jon Lester
Travis Wood
Mike Montgomery
John Lackey
Pedro Strop
Jake Arrieta
Justin Grimm
Aroldis Chapman
Hector Rondon

David Ross, C
Albert Almora Jr., OF
Chris Coghlan, OF
Javier Baez, INF
Kyle Schwarber, OF/C
Kris Bryant, INF
Ben Zobrist, INF
Jason Heyward, OF
Dexter Fowler, OF
Addison Russell, INF
Willson Contreras, C
Anthony Rizzo, INF
Miguel Montero, C
Jorge Soler, OF


Cody Allen
Trevor Bauer
Mike Clevinger
Corey Kluber
Jeff Manship
Zach McAllister
Ryan Merritt
Andrew Miller
Dan Otero
Danny Salazar
Bryan Shaw
Josh Tomlin

Yan Gomes, C
Roberto Perez, C
Jason Kipnis, INF
Francisco Lindor, INF
Michael Martinez, INF
Mike Napoli, INF/DH
Jose Ramirez, INF
Carlos Santana, INF/DH
Lonnie Chisenhall, OF
Coco Crisp, OF
Rajai Davis, OF
Brandon Guyer, OF
Tyler Naquin, OF