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Jeff's Guide to Spring Training Quotes and Testimonials

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There's no greater season than spring for unconditional optimism; if a pitcher is throwing "as well as ever" in his bullpens, it means he's in line for a Cy Young season, and if a hitter has adjusted a hitch in his swing, then all the problems of yesteryear will be gone, right? Well, that's the message you'd get if you believed everything that came out of players' and coaches' mouths during ST, anyway. Optimism is good, but there's also no better time than spring for exaggeration, spin, and subterfuge. Sometimes it can get pretty hard to wade through all the fluff to find the actual truth in a statement. For this reason, I present to you my personal guide for understanding what players and coaches really mean by what they say, using quotations from around the league over the past week.

What They Say:

"I feel I should drive the ball more," he said. "I haven't driven the ball much before because I didn't get my legs involved. Any good power hitter will tell you they need their legs." -Brad Ausmus, on adding a leg kick to his swing

What They Mean:

"Come on, it's not like it'll jeopardize my offensive productivity."

What They Say:

"What was exciting about that was he got beat on a pitch up and away and still took it over the left-field wall with ease." -Brewers coach on a Prince Fielder home run

What They Mean:

"He didn't get beat by the pitch, he hit a home run. What was exciting about that was the whole home run thing."

What They Say:

"Bloomquist is a nice player; I really like him," Hargrove said. "He's one of those guys who, the more you see him, the more you like him." -self-explanatory

What They Mean:

"I have low standards."

What They Say:

"I've got a changeup now and I'm really excited about it." -Jason Davis, on adding a new pitch to his repertoire

What They Mean:

"I've gripped a ball funny and thrown it like that, and it didn't go real fast, so I think I'm going to keep doing that."

What They Say:

Ryan Jensen reported to camp in shape and with a new knuckleball in his repertoire.

What They Mean:

"He's really an awful pitcher."

What They Say:

"You can't place a whole lot of importance on the first outing, you really can't. The first outing is getting used to throwing to live hitters again." -Mike Hargrove, on Joel Pineiro

What They Mean:

"He sucked."

What They Say:

"I was just trying to work on getting command of my fastball today." -Chan Ho Park, on his first outing

What They Mean:

"I sucked."

What They Say:

"Carlos Baerga had an enthusiasm that was infectious. I see that same enthusiasm and exuberance in Olivo. Their work ethic is very similar." -Mike Hargrove, on Miguel Olivo

What They Mean:

"Miguel strikes me as a guy who'll play hard until he gets his first big contract, at which point he'll stop caring and watch his career go up in smoke."

What They Say:

"I know my power numbers are not on par [with other first basemen], but making productive outs is more important to me." -Darin Erstad, on his hitting

What They Mean:

"Remember when I could hit? Those were the days. Now I'm a team player. Thank you, Buster Olney!"

What They Say:

"I'm not really a good spring training pitcher." -Matt Mantei to Terry Francona, explaining away any potential early struggles

What They Mean:

"No, really, my arm is fine. I'm the model of perfect health. Gotta cover my ass, gotta cover my ass...

What They Say:

"I have struggled offensively." -Kevin Cash, on his hitting record

What They Mean:

"You know what I like? Understatements."

What They Say:

"Lopez can force the issue at shortstop. I've been very impressed with him. If it happens, then Pokey would be a utility player." -Mike Hargrove, on Jose Lopez

What They Mean:

"There is somebody named Jose Lopez on the team."

With practice, you, too, will be able to sort through all the nonsense to uncover what the guys are really telling the press!

In light of all this, if there's one thing I want you all to consider, it's that if a coach goes on record as saying that he was "impressed" by a certain player, it means that he had low expectations for that player coming into camp.

And what does that tell you?