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Scenes from Cardinals & Marlins camp

April 2, 2011

Cardinals legend Mark McGwire shares a laugh with prospect Matt Carpenter before their game against the Nationals. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Vin Scully is telling family stories about Pablo Sandoval as I write this, which is extremely distracting since I have been waiting months to hear his voice and anecdotes from L.A. But, I also waited months to make that familiar walk through the green left field wall in Roger Dean Stadium, through the bullpen and into the dugout for what, to me, is the best way to start the baseball season: spring training.

My trip didn’t end well — my family and I all got food poisoning and spent some time in the hospital — but the baseball portion of it went smooth.

Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Gibson signs for fans. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Cardinals third baseman David Freese laughs with outfielder Lance Berkman. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Cardinals ace Chris Carptenter took on Washington after missing a few weeks with hamstring issues. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols watches his fly ball off Livan Hernandez. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Nationals opening day starter Livan Hernandez chats with teammates in the dugout. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Pudge, Ivan Rodriguez, takes a swing against Carpenter. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Some of the shorter batters, I was able to just squeeze ’em into the frame horizontally. Here’s Brian Bixler:

Brian Bixler of the Nationals takes a swing. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

One of the most unexpected things happened around the fifth or sixth inning of this game, when, after several players had been hit, the Nationals’ Ian Desmond charged the mound after taking a pitch off the back from Miguel Batista. The benches immediately cleared and Cards skipper Tony La Russa was in the middle of the action, as was Nats 1B coach Dan Radison. Here, La Russa gets into it with Desmond up the first base line:

Tony La Russa, Cardinals manager, argues with Ian Desmond. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Batista was ejected, although tempers flared again in the ninth.

First base umpire Angel Hernandez explains to Miguel Batista that he's been thrown out of the game. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Mets knuckleballer RA Dickey has a good one lined up in a start against the Marlins. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Mets prospect Matt Bouchard celebrates in the dugout following a home run. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Mets first baseman Ike Davis talks things over in the dugout. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Marlins All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

The Marlins' Anibal Sanchez delivers a pitch in Jupiter, Fla. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Mets starter Chris Young is a tall guy, sometimes tough to fit in the frame. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

One of the real good guys in the Majors, Logan Morrison:

Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison watches his fly to center. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Marlins skipper Edwin Rodriguez watches the action from the back of the dugout. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Have to include this — a little grey bird landed at the top step of the dugout during the game and was totally unfazed by the action, fans or players. He wasn’t the only little critter to stop by during a game — a big toad showed up in the dugout during one Marlins game (Jeff Conine picked him up and paraded him around) and a little lizard jumped on my back after one of the Florida pitchers tried to scoop him up with his cap! He knocked it off me, though.

Some of the Jupiter, Fla., wildlife. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Ozzie Martinez showing that classic smile in the dugout following a homer. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

Cardinals prospect Tyler Henley breaks his bat on this swing. (Danny Wild/MLB.com)

I still need to go through more photos — the food poisoning kept me in bed for a few days — so I’ll try and post a few more later.

One of the nice things about getting back to the Dean is seeing some familiar faces, including the third base dugout usher, Al, who always has some stories to tell. I dunno if it’s Florida, the ballpark, the spring atmosphere or all three, but everyone down there is super friendly and welcoming. Getting to chat with Lou Brock at Cardinals games, it doesn’t get much better. And I was lucky enough to watch a game with my friend Lynne — a former girlfriend, if you can believe it — on Thursday, when we rooted against the Red Sox.

I also got a free upgrade from Hertz on my rental, a red 2011 Ford Mustang convertible with black leather, Sirius radio and 300 horsepower. My sunburn is still peeling from a week in this guy with the top down on 95:

My Hertz 2011 Ford Mustang. (Danny Wild)

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