100 Miles, Three Camps, One Long Day

St. Petersburg/Kissimmee/Winter Haven, Fla.–Call me crazy. Please.

Three camps in a day is enough to make one . . . well, a little off. It all started at 7 a.m. with a trip to the Devil Rays minor league complex (right down the street from the Tyrone Mall–solid shopping option, by the way) to see a little Reid Brignac early work action.

After that, it was nearly two hours on to Kissimmee to catch the Astros and Indians’ high Class A, low Class A and rookie clubs play each other. Indians catcher Matt McBride really is what former farm director John Farrell called ‘a mountain of a man.’ And third baseman Wes Hodges is going off this spring–while playing a solid third base.

And then there is Astros lefthander Brian Bogusevic, who’s been turning heads in minor league camp–this time for the right reasons. Bogusevic’s had trouble not looking behind him since Houston took him out of Tulane in the first-round in 2005–with 2-7, 5.26 numbers in 103 innings as a pro.

But Bogusevic finished strong last season, going 1-2, 3.38 with a 25-6 strikeout-walk ratio in 27 innings and has impressed the Astros’ brass this season. The 23-year-old will likely front the rotation at high Class A Salem.

“He’™s really making progress,” Astros pitching coordinator Dewey Robinson said. “We’™re really pleased with what’™s going on with him.

“He’™s in the low 90s with a lot of movement–good late life–and a hard slider. The changeup’™s really come along and he’™s even working on a curveball right now too.”

After Kissimmee it was on to a brief stop in Winter Haven, where the brass was certainly in full force as Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, farm director Ross Atkins, scouting director John Mirabelli and special assistant to the GM Buck Showalter were on hand to catch the Double-A and Triple-A clubs.

But that didn’t stop any humor from sneaking in.

As I walked past Indians sidewinding righthander Randy Newsom, who won the Carolina League postseason MVP, and outfielder Jordan Brown, who won the Carolina League MVP award, I said, “What’s up, MVP?”

“Man, his doesn’t count . . . He’s no MVP,” Brown said, walking away. “I mean, it was only in a short series. No way that counts as a point of reference.”