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Are You Ready?

First exhibition game? I know people get excited, and that’s great, but for me, having done this over so many Springs, it’s about knowing what I can do and when I’m ready to do it. Believe me, I’m excited, too, but I’m not gonna do anything crazy today.

What I plan to do is get my watching in, nice and simple. Gonna take it easy. Don’t wanna overdo it on the first day or even the first weekend.

I’ll see a few pitches, then ramp up to full plate appearances. I’ll listen to the announcers, settle in for a couple of innings, let the remote get comfortable in my palm again. Work on thumb flexibility — volume mostly. I watched TV during the offseason, but watching TV under game conditions is a whole other discipline.

Checking out other games between innings comes later in Spring. Picture-in-picture you save for the last week.

I’m scheduled to switch to the radio for the middle innings, hear how that sounds, probably alternate with the TV a little. Then, the next day, I start with the radio and then go to the TV. Ideally you wanna get to the point where you can listen to both at the same time while tweeting. You don’t do that too early in these games, though. That’s a headache waiting to happen.

TV and scroll. Radio and scroll. Then TV and radio and scroll. Only then do you wanna start tweeting. Besides, observations this early are gonna be half-baked by their very nature. “Baseball’s back!” gets repetitious fast. I mean you hafta do the drills — the disparity in weather between here and Florida; uniform numbers above 90; Darren Reed comparisons; Tebow pro or con — but you gotta keep in mind that you’re preparing for a long season. Short threads now keep your tweets fresh later.

At this stage, really, you just look to build up strength and stamina. No sense trying to follow the action. Right now it’s about anecdotes and generalizations, forming vague impressions. Noticing the score is the last thing you wanna do right out of the box.

You wanna make the roster, natch, but you hafta be conscious that making the roster in February is literally impossible. Somebody’s gonna get injured, and there goes your roster. Somebody’s gonna have a good outing and you’ll wanna put him on your roster. But wait: is somebody else out of options? What about the Rule 5 guy? Three catchers? How versatile is versatile? How deep is a deep bullpen? Seven relievers? Eight? And if so, where’s your third catcher then?

Syracuse, that’s where. See?

You don’t start making a 25-man roster on the first day of games or even the first week. Make a 10-man roster, then a 12-man and keep going. Use a pencil with a thick eraser and keep a sharpener nearby. I like a legal pad. Scratch paper is OK, too. I know they have apps for it now, but fundamentals are key in Spring. You wanna make the roster? Write it out in longhand.

Most of all, remember that you have more than a month to get ready. I know it’s a cliché, but you gotta take it one game that doesn’t count at a time.