On the road at Marlins camp

Florida Marlins reliever Clay Hensley pitches against Atlanta on March 17. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Well here I am in Florida, with daytime highs not much warmer than back in New York, but more importantly, the daytime down here is filled with baseball (instead of honking taxis and endless train rides from NYC).

I arrived at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Int’l Airport around 12:30am Wednesday morning and picked up a 2010 black Ford Mustang to drive for the week; now when I drive into and out of the player’s parking lot, I could maybe pass for some obscure reliever or something.

My ride this week.

Anyway it’s amazing to be back in Florida and around baseball again — today was my first game since Game 2 of the World Series last October (or was it November?) … I shot the Braves-Marlins game today at beautiful Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., which is about a 35 minute drive north on I-95 to West Palm Beach.

Marlins lefty Andrew Miller faced off against 2009 rookie sensation Tommy Hanson and the Braves, who held on for a meaningless 4-2 win on a (here’s a good baseball cliche for you) “rain-soaked” afternoon at the park. It pretty much rained lightly all day long, at least until I got home. On to the photos:

Braves starter Tommy Hanson throws home against the Marlins. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

You can see the rain on the Hanson shot. I liked his expression, it was sort of like “I’m going to drill that dumbass photographer kneeling behind the plate with this pitch.” I survived, although two fellow photogs nearly got smoked by a wide pitch one inning. Skipped out of the way, no joke.

The top prospect in baseball, Jason Heyward. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

One funny thing about Spring Training is you get a lot of random photographers, some of which may be unfamiliar with baseball or the teams playing. It seemed like today’s designated assignment — the guy to get — was Braves top prospect Jason Heyward, who is no longer playing in obscurity. Already a good bet for NL Rookie of the Year, he drew attention with every at-bat (“great, Heyward’s finally up, I can go home now.”)

Speaking of NL Rookie of the Year…

Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan bats against Tommy Hanson. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Now I don’t mind shooting in the rain, but I did reach my limit around the 5th inning when I grabbed my bag and ran (took an elevator) up to the pressbox for some free diet Pepsi and popcorn (it was fantastic). Unfortunately I missed my chance at shooting the pinch-hitting Melky Cabrera, so I’ll try and get him tomorrow.

Braves catcher Brian McCann drives a three-run double against the Marlins. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Have to admit, many times I’d dreamed of doing something like I did today: driving a Mustang with a 400mm f/2.8 lens in the trunk to go shoot a Major League game.  If someone wants to pay me $20,000 for this Andrew Miller photo, I could probably make that dream a reality on a daily basis:

Marlins starter Andrew Miller did not give up an earned run. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

And here’s where one of my Hanson photos ended up:

My photo on the Braves' website.
My photo of Clay Hensley on the Marlins' site.

Lots more to come; Thursday I’ll see Rich Hill and the Cardinals take on Tim Hudson and the Braves. I think I’ll skip the nightcap of Marlins-Mets and just relax — this is vacation!


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