Hello to everybody from Spring Training in Orlando, Florida!
We’ve been here for a couple weeks practicing and now games are finally starting to pick up. It’s great to be here after several months of an off season, which were a lot of fun this year.
The first few weeks of the off season, I did nothing but just relax and recover from a very long 2008 season. Midway through October, my wife Catie and I were able to hop on a Delta flight and travel down to Costa Rica with a bunch of teammates and friends for a week. What an incredible trip! There was so much to do and the weather was beautiful. Where do you guys like to go in the fall and winter to catch some warmer weather?
Then in early November, Catie and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary in Atlanta at the Four Seasons Hotel. We had hoped to get back to Punta Mita, Mexico. for a couple of days, which was where we went on our honeymoon, but being at the Four Seasons made us forget we were even in Atlanta in the first place. It was incredibly relaxing.
What are some of your favorite hotels in your home city where you can go to and spend a night as a nice little “getaway”?
As December rolled around, Catie and I were able to put on a really cool charity project, which we’re hoping to make an annual thing. With the help of some great businesses around Atlanta, we put together seven huge Christmas baskets full of fun gifts, toys, books, clothes and food. Four families who were nominated through Atlanta radio station “790 The Zone” received the first four baskets, which we delivered to each family’s house. Then we took the remaining three baskets to families at the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. We were hoping to bring just a little extra cheer to a family who might have to spend Christmas in the hospital. This was by far one of the most rewarding things we got to do all offseason.
Another community project I got to take part in was the “I Am the Solution” campaign through Families First, which encouraged people to make different New Years resolutions in 2009. Many people vow to lose weight or save money, but the public service announcement we filmed reminded you that you can resolve to help others this year and to make a difference in your community. Check out the PSA here.
Right before Christmas, Catie and I, along with her entire immediate family, hopped back on Delta and flew to Colorado to spend a short week in Beaver Creek. We actually flew into Denver, then rented a car and drove to Beaver Creek, which was worth it. We were able to take a sleigh ride through the city, which I thought was something only cheesy guys did. But I was totally surprised at how much fun it was.
Just after New Years, we were able to do something I’ve never done before. Kooza, one of the Cirque du Soleil shows, was in Atlanta for about a month and Catie and I got lucky with some great tickets. It’s hard to imagine how all of those performers defy gravity and perform tricks like that. Knowing how much hard work we put into the game of baseball, where hitting the ball three times out of ten is considered good, I can’t believe how much practice and dedication it must take to perfect some of those stunts every single time they are performed.
Getting back into baseball mode, I held the Jeff Francoeur Baseball Clinic on Jan. 17, which gave me the chance to hang out with some young baseball players looking to improve on the field. It’s always a good time to be able to help out young players, especially when I was in that same situation 10 or 15 years ago. Being out there with those kids makes me remember being that age and knowing I wanted to be a big-league baseball player when I grew up.
But now we’re back to reality and back to work at Spring Training. Things seem to be going great and I’m really excited for the upcoming season.
What are some of the things you guys would like to read about this season? I’ll be blogging twice a month, just like last year. Is there anything we didn’t cover last season that you’d like to hear about?
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