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From Viera

This dispatch comes to you by way of the free wi-fi at the Panera Bread, a radiant monument of lunchtime dining that is absolutely the selling point for Viera tourism, if not altogether a reason to move here immediately. As I write, I stare out into the 80-degree Florida sunshine. A Bed Bath & Beyond is to my right, across from the parking lot. In the same complex, there is a Kohl's, a Chico's, and an Office Depot. All of the buildings are beige.

After spending a certain period of time anywhere north of here, you tend to forget about Florida's glistening sterility. But I'll tell ya what -- given the glorious weather, and given the scene at the ballfield just down the road, Viera feels pretty darn pleasant today. This is my first visit. Arrived here last night. Checked in to Rez Inn HQ, home for the next weeks. And this morning, I drove over to the Nats' minor league facility.

So who is there right now, one day before the pitcher-catcher report date?

Among the more prominent players I spotted: Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Collin Balester, Justin Maxwell, Pete Orr, Asst. GM Bob Boone, hitting coach Rick Eckstein, newly-acquired Daniel Cabrera, Joel Hanrahan, Jason Bergmann and Luke Montz.

Montz's arrival in camp several days ago was particularly helpful; before then, there was a notable shortage of catchers, and various coaches and older bullpen catchers were sometimes catching seven or eight bullpen sessions per day. As a result, their knees started to look like cantaloupes.

This morning, Mike O'Connor and Garrett Mock both threw in the 'pen. Bergmann (who's added some noticeable muscle this offseason), along with Balester and Lannan, took some hitting lessons in the cages with Boone. Hanrahan spent some time in the outfield working on long toss. It was all pretty relaxed. By 11:30 or noon, most were finished for the day.

A few said they might be headed to Panera, but I haven't seen any familiar faces yet.

By Chico Harlan  |  February 13, 2009; 1:24 PM ET
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Panera my balls

Posted by: makplan20002 | February 13, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Chico, It kills me to think that you get PAID to be there. I'd give good money to take your place. :-) Please enjoy it as much as I enjoy hearing about it. What a great job!!!

Posted by: twinbrook | February 13, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the imagery, Chico. Glad to hear that you have already made a pilgrimage to the exalted temple of dining. The weather and baseball sound lovely. Hey, maybe somebody could take your picture in front of Chico's and post it to the blog.

(Pat Corrales could have done some catching. ;-))

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 13, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

What? Another new post? You all are dealing today!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 13, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I can smell the panera in my mind. See ya in 32 days.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 13, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Chico, double postin' snark dishin' and eating at the bastion of spring training!

I just laughed out loud reading your post, prompting my study hall students to question me. Unfortunately, they didn't grasp the panera humor.

Posted by: NattyDelite | February 13, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Solid post by Nattydelite and whole-heatedly agree. Strong start to 2009 cheek-dizzle.

I freaking love dispatches.

Posted by: tlynch44 | February 13, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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