CLEARWATER, Fla. -- While the horde of media followed the every move of the Four Aces during their first official workout, this reporter found peace on a small, side field away from the pack.
Doug Mansolino, the team's minor-league infield coordinator, grabbed his fungo bat and picked up a ball.
"First one of the spring right here!" he yelled.
Chase Utley waited on the infield grass, fielded the grounder and flipped it to first-base coach Sam Perlozzo. Brian Bocock stood beside Utley and began fielding grounders too. No one said anything. Utley pounded his fist into his glove each time Bocock cleanly fielded one.
"I love it!" Mansolino said. "A little baseball!"
Soon more infielders joined. There was Carlos Rivero, Harold Garcia, Josh Barfield, Jeff Larish and John Mayberry Jr. Then Jimmy Rollins appeared, introduced himself to the new faces, and took the field.
He was mostly toying with Mayberry during practice. The Phillies appear to be serious about providing a serious chance for Mayberry to make the team as a bench player. Adding a new position would help his cause and so he has added the first-baseman's mitt.
Rollins was testing the lanky Mayberry at his new role, purposefully throwing wide or high. The shortstop was impressed.
"Like Derrek Lee out there!" Rollins yelled from across the diamond.
Rollins came off the field and I remarked how unusual it was to see him here. Typically, Rollins is among the last players to report to camp.
"Beats digging out of the snow," Rollins said.
-- Both Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown were in the clubhouse this morning and did some light workouts. Brown has been in Clearwater using the facilities for the past few weeks; Francisco just arrived.
-- Larish rolled in with a green Oakland A's bag. His locker is near another former Oakland player, Dan Meyer. Meyer and Joe Blanton, former teammates in Oakland, were tossing partners Sunday.
-- Lefthander Antonio Bastardo said he had to shut himself down after just nine innings of winter ball in the Dominican Republic. After an examination, no significant injury was revealed in his left arm and the 25-year-old pitcher said he expects to throw Tuesday with the rest of his group.
-- We will have some updates from the press conference with the Four Aces in a bit.