February 25th, 2009

Liveblogging the first Liveday

MLB.com liveblogged the liveday from the first Spring Training exhibition through the last on Wednesday’s full day of games. Make sure you have MLB.TV and follow it to November.

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9:46: It was a first day of live baseball like any other, and now it sets the routine to follow: Baseball every day. Our game is back. It goes on until November in 2009.

We saw Albert Pujols back in Cardinal regalia, hitting again. We saw grand slams by Micah Hoffspauir of the Cubs and Jerry Hairston Jr. of the Reds. We saw Tim Lincecum throw an inning on live MLB.TV, at the beautiful new Goodyear Ballpark above (photo courtesy of Dan Mendlik/Indians). We saw some great plays, as if little had changed. We saw Josh Hamilton homer right away as if it was 2008.

We saw Alex Rodriguez get a mixed reaction when introduced for his first at-bat, and we saw him homer in his second plate appearance. We saw Nate Schierholtz go yard for the Giants as a harbinger of what may be ahead. We saw 15 exhibition games between Major League clubs and another split-squad Red Sox game against Boston College. Never has there been a full slate of games this early.

We saw some live baseball on MLB.TV, and we can’t wait for more. It is coming right back at you on Thursday. And then every day after that. We saw Ryan Church and the Mets raking the ball against Baltimore. We saw bullpens active like anthills, constantly shuttling in fresh arms, often an inning at a time. Gradually the stints will get longer and longer, and one of these days, someone will actually throw a complete game.

It all started on this day. We have baseball back. Fans are back on their game now, because someone finally shouted, “Play Ball!” Take it from this fan MLBlogger who already has started the daily fan ritual.

9:37: Sean Henn is the last pitcher of Day One, and he is facing Paul McNaulty of the Red Sox with two on and two out and protecting a 5-2 lead. Is this the last pitch of the day? Yes it is. McNaulty flies out to right. Twins win. They win the “Mayor’s Cup” between these neighboring spring clubs. They are 1-0 in the Grapefruit League.

The Red Sox are 0-1. One day long from now, say about next week, no one
will remember this day. But it has been a beautiful day if you love the
national pastime. It has been our chance to watch our heroes return to
uniform.

9:20: There are a lot of very high jersey numbers on MLB.TV right now
in the bottom of the eighth at Lee County, and the game is hinging on
how they do. No. 80 Jeff Christy knocks in a pair with a bases-loaded,
no-out chopper through the left side that should have been grabbed.
It’s now 5-2, Twins over Red Sox. Billy Traber, a non-roster invitee
facing another in that situation, is off to a rough start. But he
settles in and gets the next three hitters. We have one more inning
left in the first live day of 2009 baseball.

This fan is ready for Derek Jeter to play for Team USA against the Yankees next week:
http://chrisrisley.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/derek_jeter_preparing_for_clas.html

9:08: Here was the ageless wonder tonight, starting the first night game of 2009 for the Red Sox. Got a little roughed up, but the first day of live baseball is not for evaluation. It is for appreciation. Baseball is back. (Photo courtesy of Brita Meng Outzen/MLB.com)

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9:03: In honor of one of our resident MLBloggers, Glen Perkins of the Twins, we present this shot of tonight’s starting pitcher for Minnesota in the first night game of 2009 (photo courtesy Brita Meng Outzen/MLB.com):

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This is what life is like for so many of you Major League fans today, now that the games are happening again. Posted by metsgrrl on our Official MLBlogs Twitter: “i am still at work, and I have 170+ baseball stories in my RSS feed to get through tonight. odds, anyone?”
 
8:54: Nick Swisher just posted on his Twitter: “first game. always big time butterflies. so happy and proud to be a part of this team. this could be something special.” In his first live game with the Yankees, helping them to a 6-1 victory over the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Swish batted fifth, drove in a run and scored once.

8:40: Twins 3, Red Sox 2 in the bottom of the sixth. Kevin Youkilis just did a dugout interview with NESN that all MLB.TV viewers saw live, and he commented on the new facial hair.

“Well, I don’t know, I was getting a little bored with the goatee, decided to do a fu manchu. I call it a Youk Fu,” he said.

“The idea was going through my head a lot. I’m not going to lie to you. I started it on picture day. I just wanted to make sure I had it for the 2009 season to look up on the scoreboard and see probably the ugliest I’ve ever looked. I definitely won’t be able to do the TV thing with the Youk Fu, I might have to stay with the goatee.”

8:33: Tim Lincecum threw just one inning of the first-ever 2009 live MLB.TV game earlier today, and our MLB.com Giants correspondent Chris Haft reports that he is fine. The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner had a 25-pitch count against the Indians, and because he threw 18 in a laborious first inning, there was no need to send him back out for the second inning. Meanwhile, Barry Zito just tweeted this on his Twitter page: “just woke up from a nap. Heading to go work out with weez.” You can follow Zito @barryzito and also follow the Official MLBlogs Twitter by clicking here or just following @mlblogs

8:22: Watching Michael Cuddyer, just grounded out to short in the fifth. Twins holding a 3-1 lead through five. Last time I saw Cuddyer in action, he was being nailed at the plate by Junior Griffey, helping the White Sox eliminate Minnesota in that play-in game. You know, I have to wonder if players many years ago would be wildly out of shape and fundamentally dopey at this time of year. These guys, all day and night, have looked like midseason form. I don’t think they drop off that much over the offseason. And it’s February!

7:45: Still no Manny, but MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that today was “the most serious attempt to date” by the Dodgers to get something done.

7:38: While you are watching this Sox-Twins game live on MLB.TV, here is a quick update from the Pirates. They will start Ian Snell at 1:05 ET tomorrow against Jon Lester of Boston. Ross Ohlendorf, Jimmy Barthmaier, Denny Bautista and Sean Burnett are also scheduled to pitch for the Pirates….Just saw Justin Morneau jawing with a fan after he snared a wicked liner from Jacoby Ellsbury.

7:30: Alexi Casilla’s Texas Leaguer drops behind Kevin Youkilis, and Mike Redmond scores from third to make it 3-0, Minnesota, in the second inning. Tough start for Sox fans. “It’s only the first day.” Of course. Just Tim Wakefield getting out there and getting comfortable. Just this, just that. But baseball is back and whatever happens now matters.

7:27: Twins strike first as Delmon Young scores ahead of Wilkerson’s throw from right, which arrives on a short hop and gets away. Brian Buscher then scores on a sac fly to center. It’s 2-0, Minnesota, with one out, man on third.

7:26: What do you think of Youk’s fu man chu? Kind of wild to see part of his chin.

7:21: Can we get a Hallelujah?

Red Sox fan on A-Rod’s homer:
http://bosoxblog.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/arod_spring_training_homer.html

Watching this one live on MLB.TV, and we’re heading into the bottom of the second. One thing that really amazes you right away is the unbelievable lush grass of the Twins’ Lee County facility. It is time to appreciate the groundskeeper.

7:15: Twins have two on, two out, Jason Kubel up, against Tim Wakefield in the first. First night game of the 2009 baseball year. Cool just to see the glare of the lights on the batting helmets, although you really can’t beat watching that day baseball. Kubel pops it up to third, ends the first rally of the year for Minnesota. Just seeing this changes your outlook on life, takes you away from the economy, returns you to your youth, energizes you for the year ahead. Baseball is back, and it’s live on MLB.TV right now.

Our friend Josh Rawitch of the Dodgers has one of the biggest blogs on the Internet, and I won’t be surprised if he actually breaks the Manny news right there once it happens. After all, he is the head of PR and his blog goes straight from the club to a massive audience easily the size of any newspaper. He just mentioned Manny in his post. Nothing happening there.

7:05: Boston at Minnesota under way. Last game of the day. On MLB.TV r
ight now. Live.

7:02: Twins radio station is about to go on the air with its feed of tonight’s last remaining game on the full slate of First Day, Boston at Minnesota. You will have three ways to follow it live. Get MLB.TV Premium right now. There will be Gameday Audio for both clubs, and one television broadcast feed. Once we roll out the beta of the new 2009 MLB.TV Premium media player in mid-March, you will be blown away with the functionalities, including ability to switch from TV to radio feed while in-stream, and home-or-away for all games. Tonight, just savor the moment: Live baseball you can watch or listen to over your computer. It’s coming in a few minutes. Glen Perkins vs. Dustin Pedroia. Have to get some java first. It has been a long day, but a fun day. Just think how many pitchers have gotten up in the bullpen and how many have run sprints on the warning track; how many ballpark dogs have been consumed already; how many rays people copped today in Florida and Arizona; how many pitches, how many hits, how many runs. Baseball is back.

6:54: Looking forward to Felix Hernandez for Seattle vs. Chris Young for San Diego on Thursday afternoon in that official opener for both teams. Here were some highlights from that charity game the teams just played:

  • Rob Johnson tied the game at 3-3 with a solo home run in the top of the 9th inning.
  • Randy Messenger threw 2.0 scoreless innings (8th & 9th) in relief.
  • Starting pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith allowed 2 hits in 2.0 scoreless innings (32 pitches).
  • SS Ronny Cedeno and DH Russell Branyan each recorded 2-hit games.
  • Today’s contest was the earliest spring training game in club history (previous was Feb. 26, 1998).

6:51: A-Rod earlier in the day, after his opening homer: “I thought the fans were OK. I’d like to invite a bunch of them out to Fenway this summer.”

6:41: As we wait for the next live MLB.TV game between Boston and Minnesota (7:05 ET start) to conclude this phenomenal first day of live 2009 Major League Baseball games still in February, here is a closeup look at the Boys of Almost Spring:

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Prince Fielder. Hank Blalock. Mike Napoli. Chris Young. A.J. Pierzynski. Steve Martin told Tina Fey: “Don’t fall in love with me.” With these guys, you have no choice. Major League Baseball players are playing baseball again. You fall in love with the sport and the players all over again, after a winter of trial separation. The game is back. We are watching and listening.

6:15: MLB.TV Premium subscriber alert — Red Sox at Twins coming up at the top of the hour. That will be the second live game of the day on the best technology ever invented. If you really want to feel it today, watch that live game over your computer. It will be the first night game of 2009, and you will remember what it feels like to have a routine. The first guy to swing a bat in a 2009 night game will be the reigning American League MVP, Dustin Pedroia.

All the boxes except for that game are now available on the MLB.com homepage — dive in and study every box and thank Henry Chadwick for making it all possible. Just marvel once more at the structure of a box score, how it tells a story, how much you missed it when it was gone. Angels wound up wailing on the White Sox, btw, 12-3.

Thanks to you guys for the comments below, and for all your own blogs like this one from a Twins fan named Lukedog and this one from a former Cubby Bear employee during Sammy Sosa’s reign. There are new MLBlogs cranking up like crazy, and of course aplenty beyond the MLBlogs Network as well. Wherever you blog, feel free to leave your URL below and let’s celebrate this great day together. I know most of you probably go crazy over “pitchers and catchers report,” but this is my favorite baseball day — other than Opening Day, All-Star Game, First and Last Day of World Series.

BTW, in case you were wondering why San Diego vs. Seattle doesn’t show up in our mini-scoreboard on the MLB.com homepage, it’s because that is not considered an “official” Cactus League exhibition by the clubs. They play that one as a charity fundraiser and a way to lead into their official Cactus League openers coming at 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday in Peoria, Ariz. Nevertheless, we have a final: Padres 4, Mariners 3, walk-off in the 10th.

6:08: For today’s all-day, all-night Liveday Liveblog journey of wonder, I am wearing a Mariners jersey and a Tiger Woods
hat. Junior Griffey won’t play his first game for a few days, but
he’s back with Seattle, Tiger is back on the PGA Tour, and live baseball games are back. MLB.TV subscriptions are hotter than Port Charlotte. Life is good. A pair of 5-3 finals from Arizona: Cubs over Dodgers, D-backs over Rockies. That is the first of 39 Cub Spring Training games, the WGN broadcasters are saying now. Wow.

Micah Hoffpauir hit into bases loaded double play in the first inning, and then with the bases loaded in the fifth, he knocked it out of HoHoKam Park. So far that is my Liveday Liveblog Play of the Day. He is trying to make the 25-man roster, and you have to like a guy who gets things started by recovering from that first bases-loaded try by doing what he did.

It was not the only salami on this day. Jerry Hairston, Jr. hit the first home run at the newly renovated Charlotte Sports Park when he connected for a grand slam in the fifth for Cincinnati against Rays left-hander Randy Choate in that 7-0 opener.

6:00: Wild finish to the first live MLB.TV game of the year. Giants 10, Indians 7. Runners on first and second after Jesse English beans a batter. Two out. Tying run at the plate is Matt LaPorta, who scored from first on a double his last time up, the same guy the Indians acquired for CC Sabathia from Milwaukee last summer. La Porta crushes one high to the warning track…it could be, it might be…it isn’t! It’s a long out, the Giants congratulate themselves in the dugout, and they are 1-0 in the Cactus League season. How about Mark DeRosa hitting a three-run bomb for Cleveland in his first game since being traded from the Cubs? It was a great day in Goodyear, and us MLB.TV watchers have one in the standings. Now it’s time to watch Boston at Minnesota live over MLB.TV from Florida — coming in one hour. MLBlogger Glen Perkins for the Twins vs. Tim Wakefield, who is making his bajillionth Spring Training appearance for Boston.

5:55: Downstairs at our MLB.com offices in Manhattan, had to take a 10-minute break from the computer because I was turning into mush. Cupcakes are half-price in five minutes, but I don’t care because I have to get back and see the finish of Giants-Indians on MLB.TV. Two blue vanilla cupcakes, a Diet Coke, and I am good for a few more hours of Liveday Liveblogging. How are you guys following all of this?

5:40: Brewers 3, A’s 3 — it’s a final. Bullpens emptied during bottom of ninth so you knew it was going to be definitive no matter what, and the Brewers stranded runners at first and second when Mike Rivera popped out to first with two out. That’s the second tie of the day, following Marlins 5, Cardinals 5. Hey, that’s life on the first day of live baseball. There will be no ties this summer or fall. If you are listening to this one on MLB.com Gameday Audio, you are soaking up the beauty of radio baseball. “A good day today for all,” Bob Uecker tells the masses of Brewers fans listening to the opener. “We’ll do it again for you tomorrow. Two oh five, Central Time, the Brewers and Cubs from Mesa. Until then…this is Bob Uecker and…you have been listening to the Brewers Radio Network.” It’s not just the pitcher vs. batter. Not just the umpire’s call. Not just the homers and the putouts. It’s everything that goes into making live baseball an important part of our lives.

It’s D-backs 5, Rockies 3 in the ninth in Arizona. While watching the MLB.TV live finish between the Giants and Indians, we have this one on MLB.com Gameday Audio. What a day. We have been going from game to game to game to game. It is a blast. Even if you have just one favorite team, try doing this one day and just soak up everything in baseball. “Arizona has activity in the bullpen,” says the Rockies’ KOA announcer, and, well, that pretty much sums up this entire first day of Major League Baseball games. Bullpens have been busy, oh yes, they have been busy. Meanwhile in Port Charlotte, the Rangers are holding onto a 10-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth — after that incredible 9-1 start with Josh Hamilton going deep.

5:28: Cubs still lead the Dodgers in the eighth, 5-3, and while Manny Ramirez is obviously not playing, the most noteworthy absence at this game is that of Dodgers GM Ned Colletti. It is fueling speculation that Colletti may be in serious talks with the Manny camp.

Matt LaPorta just scored all the way from first on a double to the left-field corner, and Cleveland has cut the Giants’ lead to 10-6 in the bottom of the eighth at Goodyear Ballpark. Then there’s another double, and now it’s 10-7. Bruce Bochy is out to make a pitching change, bringing in non-roster invitee Francis Beltran. Think there isn’t competition on the first day of live games? This game is live right now on MLB.TV and hope you are watching with the rest of us!

5:09: Sometimes one picture says it all about the first day of live games:

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Those Red Sox will be on MLB.TV in a couple of hours. Make sure you have your 2009 subscription, which is $10 less than the 2008 cost. The second live MLB.TV game of the day features Boston at Minnesota in Lee County. Meanwhile, Uecker is reporting via MLB.com Gameday Audio that the Brewers have just tied the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth against the A’s. Inning is over. “He hit a frozen rope right at him!” Thanks, Ueck — on this day, every baseball cliche is like oxygen in our lungs.

A lesson in taking positives from a loss:
http://katslittlecornerofphilly.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/first_game.html

A fellow blogger who appreciates the beauty of a box score:
http://mrbaseballman.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/box_score_for_22509.html

Hope you guys are all following us on the Official MLBlogs Twitter. Just follow @mlblogs if you already tweet. Welcome to lots of new followers today like MetsGal of Hot Foot, who just joined us there.

4:57: I have A’s at Brewers on MLB.com Gameday Audio while watching the finish of the first MLB.TV live game of the year (Giants 7, Indians 3 in the seventh) on the office TV. Bobby Crosby and Travis Buck have gone yard for Oakland, which is up 3-1. It feels good listening to the legendary Bob Uecker, who is celebrating his 39th year behind the mic as a baseball broadcaster. “W
e’re all working hard at this,” he says as the seventh inning wraps up. Hearing his mannerisms after the long winter just brings it all back. In the eighth, the Brewers are threatening and he says, “Hit one out of here and let’s get through the ninth and get out of here.” What if we don’t want to get out of here? Baseball is finally back and actually it is kind of a bummer whenever each game goes final. We want this day to last forever. Really.

Happy Mets fan:
http://the1constant.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/happy_recap_mets_9_orioles_3.html

And a global perspective from a UK fan:
http://letsgoredsox.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/red_sox_imporve_to_190_againts.html

Here’s that final box as the reigning American League champs had fun but no runs in their first return to action since the World Series.

4:52: First extra-inning game of the year: Florida 5, St. Louis 5 in 10 innings. Yes, a tie is allowed on the first day of live baseball. It’s all about the players getting their work in. The Marlins scored three in the eighth to tie it, and the teams combined for 24 hits and a lot of fun for the Jupiter crowd. Colby Ramus, considered one of the three best prospects in baseball, looked great in his 2009 debut: a double, single and walk batting second for the Redbirds. Albert Pujols was back, 1-for-1. If you drafted Hanley Ramirez high for your Fantasy team, then you will be happy to know he swatted a homer in the sixth.

4:32: Listening to Dodgers at Cubs on MLB.com Gameday Audio, going back and forth between the WABC (Dodgers) and WGN (Cubs) feeds. Great to hear both perspectives. It feels like just last October, when the Dodgers ripped through Wrigley in two nights of another quickie Cub exit. James Loney just got thrown out easy trying to steal second.

Meanwhile, MLB.TV is on here at the office, and Mujica is on the mound protecting a 5-3 Giants lead over the Indians, and the announcers are chatting in the booth and they just said the words “blue skies” about six times within one minute. Then, with one on, Nate Schierholtz hammers a home run onto the berm seating in right-center, making it 7-3 San Francisco. This guy is the real deal; I covered him in Beijing where he put on a clinic every day for the USA Olympic team. What a sweet swing. Here is Chris Haft’s MLB.com story about him; I think Schierholtz will hit stardom quickly, and obviously he is wasting no time today. Did we mention blue skies yet?

4:29: Just got the A-Rod home run pic (AP) you see here, feel free to drop that on your MLBlog. Pretty dramatic opener for Mr. Center of Attention.

4:16: All the finals so far are on the MLB.com homepage scoreboard. The record will show that this is the first BOX SCORE that I witnessed in 2009: Mets 9, Orioles 3. It feels so reassuring to see the familiar digits next to names, the art of the box score, just analyzing it and letting it tell a whole story. Of course, what tells you most surely that this was the first day of live baseball is the 15 pitchers used. No one went more than two innings, typical of Day One. What I noticed most about the box score: 70 degrees, partly cloudy.

arodhomer.JPGTigers came back and won that game against the Braves, 5-4, scoring
once in the seventh to tie it and once in the eighth for the
game-winner. What I noticed most about the box score: 74 degrees and sunny. The Yankees-Jays box was just now posted as I am typing this, and what I notice most from the Bombers’ 6-1 victory is not the 16 pitchers used but “72 degrees and sunny.” Pirates won that won, 8-2, and here’s the box that says it was 77 and sunny.

4:09: All throughout this day while the crack of the bat is heard in 16 exhibitions, the MLB.TV subscription signups are going through the roof. I have been talking to many fans who are eager to share their stories about why they are part of the MLB.TV Generation, and instead of waiting to write that for MLB.com, I just want to share this one I just received:

Hey there, Mark! I am very excited about the new HD technology with the MLB.tv. To be completely honest with you, I’m thinking about dumping my satellite because I realized that the only thing I watch is local channels and Sports.



That being said, it is more cost effective to be able the watch games on my computer as opposed to paying monthly for Satellite AND the MLB package for Direct TV. So there ya go!

Peace,
Justin aka Mexigun

4:08: Josh Hamilton homered in the second inning, starting this season the
way he started the last All-Star Game Home Run Derby. The Rangers
scored six in the first and three in the second, and right now they
have a 9-5 lead over the Royals in Port Charlotte, Fla. Kansas City
just put a four-spot on the board in the third. If you are at this
game, you have lots of suntan lotion and ballpark dogs and hits and
runs. You are happy. We are happy, too. Baseball is happening. Listening to this one on MLB.com Gameday Audio.

4:02: We have the first true web gem of the season. I was listening to this
on MLB.com Gameday Audio, so I am relying on the magic of the radio
broadcast guys, and now I want to see the replay somehow. The Angels
had just gone up 3-2 after Mike Napoli raked Octavio Dotel for a double to the wall.
Dotel has been throwing a lot of pitches. Then a 425-foot blast by
Brandon Wood just got brought back by White Sox
outfielder Jerry Owens. He reached up over the fence and snagged it,
preventing the Angels from extending their lead. I love baseball.

Maybe you noticed that an MLBlogger is starting a Major League baseball game tonight. Glen Perkins will be on the hill for the Twins against Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox. If Joe Mauer plays, then that game features the four guys who finished 1-2-3-4 in the last American League MVP voting — classic. Dustin Pedroia, Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis and Mauer, in order. That will be the second game of the day live on MLB.TV. Do not miss that one. Hope you are enjoying the current MLB.TV opener now on your computer.

Public-service announcement: Indians single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. ET Saturday. Every time I see a club announce that, I get chills.

3:52: “Giddiness! We have a ballgame!!” That is the headline of our friend and Dodger blogger Emma. Every now and then you keep seeing other blogs and message posts and interviews with MLB team owners and fans and all of us who really sum it up with only a few words. “We have a ballgame!!” is one of those things you hear on this day. Gotta love that! She knows that her Dodgers went to the last National League Championship Series and that they are loaded with young guys and a great manager and coaching staff — no reason to think the Dodgers couldn’t be in the World Series this fall. Whoever gets there, it all began right now. We are watching and listening all day. This is an amazing day.

3:42: Mets have been teeing off on Baltimore in the first game for those two teams. That’s OK with the Orioles. They have 37 pitchers in camp, and they have gone through six pitchers already here in the eighth inning, with the Mets ahead, 9-3.

I am listening to an Orioles radio network interview with Orioles second-year pitching coach Rick Kranitz on MLB.com Gameday Audio. This is one of the great things about a subscription to MLB.TV, you get to watch the TV feed or hear the radio feed this season, and they throw interviews at you left and right. Here is some Q&A:

On how busy he has been lately:

“It has been a busy camp. The tough thing is trying to figure out how to get all these guys work. I’m just going to really take all the guys I think are going to make the club, move those guys back a week to let some of the other guys get some work. We really have to take a look at some of these other guys and let them get work. Between the split squads and A and B games, we should get plenty of good looks.”

Does he have a five-man rotation in mind?

“You have to. I have to take a look at it and say, ‘This is what I think.’ Going in, you always have in mind a sleeper or two. Last year, Jim Johnson came out of nowhere, I wasn’t even thinking a bout it, and he went out and kept getting guys out. That’s the thing about competition. We’re looking for guys to step up.”

On what he says to Rich Hill:

“Let’s get it in the zone early and let your stuff play. Let your stuff work. Don’t be overly critical because you missed your spot by two or three inches.”

3:24: Rays haven’t scored since they temporarily tied the score at 3-3 in the top of the seventh after play resumed during the clinching Game 5 of the last World Series. It’s the eighth inning and the Reds lead Tampa Bay, 5-0. Rays have two hits. Ah, well. We have heard cowbells and we know they are having a blast with the defending American League champions back on the field in their Spring Training home in Florida.

We now pause from this Liveday Liveblog for station identification and to hear some “Centerfield” from John Fogerty and Keith Urban. (Actually we just stole that from a fellow MLBlogger who joins us for the live action!)

Rays catcher Shawn Riggans is being interviewed now on MLB.com Gameday Audio during the game, as he is out of the game after starting. The team had a big 2008 but he was hurt. How is he now? “Excellent. My body’s healthy. Seems like I go over a checklist every day of Spring Training from neck down to my toes, last year was a freak thing with the infection, but I’m ready to go.”

grady.JPG3:20: “Grady Sizemore leads it off for the Tribe against Tim Lincecum, the reigning Cy Young Award winner making his first start.” What I have been waiting to hear. It could be an All-Star Game matchup. It could be a World Series matchup. Just think, the Giants have not won it all since 1954 and never in San Francisco. The Indians have not won it all since 1948, the longest drought other than the Cubs’ drought (101 years). The Indians were heavily favored and lost to the Giants in 1954 when Willie Mays made “The Catch.” What if those teams met in this Fall Classic? It could happen. This matchup might be a harbinger, and in late October we could remember this day way back when. Lincecum just struck him out. Jhonny Peralta then rips a single to center. A long, long, long, long, long, long season of LIVE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL on MLB.TV is under way, folks. There is no stopping us now as baseball fans. Life is good.

3:15: Giants at Indians. First-ever MLB.TV live game of 2009. There will be thousands more. In fact, 2,430 Major League Baseball regular season games. You can watch all of them live and out-of-market, and even if it’s in your market you can watch them all on-demand after they are played. Plus you get more than 100 live Spring Training exhibitions like this first one, so dig in. Indians just got out of a quick jam, with the Giants leaving runners on first and second. Now comes the moment I have been waiting for all week: LINCECUM VS. GRADY. Bring it on. Baseball’s back!

3:11: Pregame activity for the Giants-Indians live game on MLB.TV, so back to Braves at Tigers on MLB.com Gameday Audio for a bit. I have to report that Detroit will not score in every inning of 2009, after all. In fact, they blew a 3-0 lead and the Braves are now up, 4-3, in the seventh. Welcome to the first day of Spring Training exhibitions. Guys don’t stay around for long in these games. Pitchers go an inning or two, prospect after prospect enter the game, and pitchers run their sprints on the warning track. Beat writers venture down to the clubhouses around the fourth or fifth inning and interview starters before they head for the golf course. This is life. Obviously the scores don’t matter. What matters is hearing the crowd in the background of the radio broadcast, seeing the superstars of your life, hearing the crack of the bat and the pop into the mitt, and knowing that it is just a little bit warmer now even if you are typing this in 36-degree windchill outside one day in late February. Welcome to Spring Training. We are following live baseball!

3:03: Two minutes till the first MLB.TV live game of 2009! LINCECUM VS. GRADY — get it.

3:01: Pirates 8, Phillies 1, bottom of the sixth in Bradenton. Break up the Pirates! Will this be the year that the Pirates follow a Steelers Super Bowl victory with a World Series title? It happened 30 seasons ago. That was the last time the Pirates won it all. It could happen again this year. Anything could happen this year. That is why today is so magical. Fans of every team think their team can win.

2:49: More links from excited MLBloggers:
http://playballaz.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/play_ball_1.html
http://erinsmetsblog.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/hello_grapefruit_league.html

Be sure to leave full URLs in the comments below to show what you are blogging about on this incredible day. Hard to believe we are starting live baseball with a full-plus slate of exhibitions, including 15 featuring all clubs, plus the BC @ Boston split-squad game. Got your MLB.TV Premium? Do it now, because here comes LINCECUM VS. GRADY. First MLB.TV live baseball game of the year is at 3:05 p.m. ET: Giants at Indians. See it live and join us all day and night here on the MLB.com Liveday Liveblog!

2:39: Our Yankees correspondent Bryan Hoch reports that Alex Rodriguez walked in his first at-bat of the spring. A-Rod received a mixed reaction from the Dunedin crowd, with applause coming from behind the Yankees’ dugout. That will be the case all season, no doubt. In the second time up, A-Rod homered off Jays lefty Ricky Romero. The Yankees hope that will be the case all season as well. Here is Bryan’s story on MLB.com.

Houston owner Drayton McLane is being interviewed during the Astros broadcast. “We’re back in sunny Florida, and we need a base hit.” He is raving about Mike Hampton’s first outing (scoreless), as well as Russ Ortiz’s scoreless effort. “This is the 25th anniversary of the Astros training here at Kissimmiee, it was John McMullen who had the vision to move the club here 25 years ago, and the county commissioners had the vision to make it happen.” He added for all of you fans: “We’ve got a whole month for them to come down here. It’s just an easy two-hour flight from Houston to Orlando International Airport.”

While McLane is in the booth in place of longtime broadcaster Milo Hamilton for a bit, the Astros finally break up the scoreless tie and put their first run of 2009 on the board. The Astros’ play-by-play man tells him: “Drayton, I just got a text from (club president of business operations) Pam Gardner. She said since they didn’t score with Milo on the mic, could you stay there?” Hamilton comes back for the next inning and says jokingly to McLane: “I understand you got a contract there?” McLane says: “Yes, they offered it for 162 games.” Alas, McLane will have a team still to operate this year and is not going to be a broadcaster.

2:25: Just switched to the MLB.com Gameday Audio feed of Washington at Houston. 1-2-3 inning for Shairon Martis. The last time I saw him was at Beijing airport, going through customs. We were in line to go from the Olympics (he had been pitching for Netherlands), and he said that next week he was going to be going up to the Majors with the Nationals. After his call-up last September, Martis is back here now, ready for a big year. When you think of him at this time of year, you can’t help thinking of the 2006 World Baseball Classic, when he threw that no-hitter for Netherlands. We’re scoreless in the top of the fifth in this game, one single apiece, and I want to hear some Adam Dunn action. They are saying there is some cloud cover in Kissimmee. If you are like me in a northern state, do you feel sorry for anyone when they say that? Here in the MLB.com headquarters in Manhattan, I consider it my duty to report that it is sunny and feels like 36 degrees. You know when you are at a Spring Training game, and the P.A. person always announces the temperature of the home team’s Major League town? They are probably doing that right now.

2:22: Someone named Ace Bradley just started an MLBlog and said it all in just one initial post.

2:10: Joey Votto just broke up the no-hitter. Clean single up the middle for the Reds in the fourth, their first hit of the spring. Grounder through left side by Brandon Phillips, now the Reds have two on and one out for Jay Bruce. Middle of the order for the Reds is a lot different without Adam Dunn, but if Tavaras is on base a lot, these guys will drive in some runs. Wow, Votto just got absolutely nailed at home on an 8-2 putout, as Bruce singled to left and Fernando Perez threw a bullet. He was out by a good 10-15 feet. Spring Training for third base coaches, too. This one is still scoreless. Rays fans are happy with life. AL champs coming up for bottom of fourth. More cowbell.

Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey is being interviewed on MLB.com Gameday Audio. What does he look for? “Early in Spring Training, you’re not looking for a great performance, just solid mechanics, throwing strikes, getting used to getting up on the mound. Then after maybe the fourth week you look for performance.” What did the 2008 experience do for this young staff? “I don’t think anything would take the place of what happened last season. It accelerated the learning curve of everyone. It was a great experience for these young guys to go through that. Nothing can replace it.” He said most of the guys who threw long into the last season won’t begin pitching for another eight or nine days, giving the other guys a chance to show themselves.

2:08: Rays have a no-hitter through three. They also are in the process of ending their streak of 48-hour games at one, dating back to last year. Nice play by Shawn Riggans to find a popup and quick movement to go get it. Announcer notes that his legs are probably “a little heavy” from all the squatting he has done so far this spring catching the pitchers. Carlos Hernandez went two innings for Tampa Bay, looked great. Don’t they have enough pitching?

1:54: Just switched to the Mets-Orioles game on MLB.com Gameday Audio. Angel Pagan is coming up to bat now. I just love hearing the words: “Here’s the fastball, a strike.” And the announcer refers to the “Pale Hose” for White Sox. It is radio broadcaster time. It is TV broadcaster time. It is MLB.TV time in about an hour. Pagan just beat the throw on a hit to the hole, now Ryan Church is up. At the moment, all that seems to matter is the sounds and the magic of baseball happening again. I have forgotten about last night’s State of the Union address for now. I have forgotten about the stock market. They are talking about Waters tring to pick off Pagan at first, and the runner dove back ahead of the throw. They just said Citifield should be called “Bailout Field.” And: “Here’s the pitch to Church again, downstairs.” They are the familiar little sayings you will hear all summer. Church just blasted one to the warning track, Pagan scores, Church stops at second to give the Mets a 3-1 lead in the top of the third, and you can hear the crowd come alive in Fort Lauderdale. Lots of Mets fans there even though it’s an away game. Julia just asked a great question in the comments, and I want to make sure you know that you can ask questions here about MLB.com and I will direct them to the appropriate person. Here are some great First Liveday links:

http://brettsmets.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/mets_orioles_spring_training_g.html
http://frommyroom.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/spring_training_games_start_to.html

http://redbirdmedia.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/starting_lineups_marlins_cards.html

http://ledzeb99.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/it_starts.html

http://patmendes.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/one_of_the_best_days_of_the_ye.html

http://cobf.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/mmmmmmmmbaseball.html

http://notjuiced.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/excited.html

http://zozone.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/phillies_vs_pirates_grapefruit.html

http://noble.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/still_diggin_his_work.html

http://yes.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/that_didnt_take_long.html

http://bombersbeat.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/gardner_gets_the_year_started.html

http://mlbastian.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/let_the_games_begin.html

http://browniepoints.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/02/and_so_2009_begins_unoficially.html

http://bucsbits.mlblogs.com

1:47: I am switching back and forth between MLB.com Gameday Audio feeds, just switched to Reds at Rays. I just heard a cowbell! First cowbell of the year. There will be more cowbell. Make sure you have your MLB.TV Premium subscription right now if you haven’t already. You do not want to miss LINCECUM VS. GRADY coming up at 3:05 p.m. ET. That matchup fires me up. Seeing it live on MLB.TV over your computer just reminds you how great it is to be a fan right now, as opposed to the ’90s or ’80s. It always has been a great game to follow as a fan. But nothing is as cool as being able to see it live anywhere over your computer.

“You gotta love Rays baseball!” is the commercial spot between innings. We’re going into the bottom half of the third inning, scoreless between the reigning American League champs (funny to say that for Tampa Bay) and a Dusty Baker team that is going to run like crazy this year. Cincinnati is my darkhorse candidate for Shocktober, will say that right now. Gabe Gross batting against Edison Volquez. I still love just listening to the radio feed of a Major League game, too. Possibly the highlight of the new MLB.TV Premium will be the ability to switch between TV and radio broadcast feed at your leisure throughout any live game. That version of the media player will come in beta in mid-March. But you have to get MLB.TV right now or you are kinda left out of the generation.

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1:43: Above is my favorite photo of the day so far. This is what Detroit fans want to see this year: Lots of smiles from D-Train. Tigers have scored in every inning so far in 2009. They will play at least 1,458 innings this year. Wonder how many of those they will score in this season. Everything you see right now makes you wonder how it will all turn out late this autumn. Detroit 2, Atlanta 0 in top of third.

Mariners just announced that outfielder Freddy Guzman has fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. He will have surgery to remove the bone. Guzman is scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, March 4. Guzman surgery will be performed by Dr. Don Sheridan. An average recovery time from a surgery of this type is four to six weeks.

1:05: Braves @ Tigers (Lakeland), BC Eagles @ Red Sox (ss, Fort Myers), Reds @ Rays (Port Charlotte), Marlins @ Cardinals (Jupiter), Yankees @ Blue Jays (Dunedin), Mets @ Orioles (Fort Lauderdale), Phillies @ Pirates (Bradenton), Nationals @ Astros (Kissimmee). All 1:05 starts are under way. Live baseball has begun! Join us here all day and night as MLB.com will be liveblogging the entire first day of live Spring Training exhibitions — one of the best days of the year. Here is what it felt like before the Yankees’ opener:

jeterrunning.JPG

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