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90 Miles to the North: Day 1 Observations

         While the big news of the day for the Marlins was taking place down the road in Miami, where the long-running stadium soap opera continued, it was baseball as usual at the team's spring training headquarters. Friday was the official report date for pitchers and catchers, which might be the most overblown day in all of sports, professional or amateur. Nothing actually happens. There is no roll call, nobody checking off player names as they announce themselves as present. The real action, if one can call it that, starts Saturday when pitchers and catchers conduct their first workouts.

        A few observations from Friday's unofficial workouts: 

         1) Most players don't give a hoot about the proposed new ballpark. That's because most of them know they probably won't be Marlins by the time one opens. Favorite saying: "I hope the visiting clubhouse is nice." So while the stadium issue was being debated in Miami, the Marlins were out on the field working out the cobwebs, oblivious to it all. I didn't hear one player ask about the stadium and how deliberations were going.

         2) There seems to be an unusually high percentage of position players already in camp. Working out and taking live batting practice: Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, John Baker, Mike Rabelo, Cody Ross, Gaby Sanchez and Jeremy Hermida. No-shows Friday: Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu, Alfredo Amezaga, Wes Helms, Robert Andino, Dallas McPherson. But regulars aren't due to report until Monday. The first full-squad workout is Tuesday.

        3) Pitcher Jose Ceda is one big dude. Wait 'til you see him.

        4) Pitcher Jason Standridge, a non-roster invitee, is one friendly guy. He went out of his way to introduce himself to anyone and everyone -- coaches, players and even reporters.

        SATURDAY: The first organized workout for pitchers and catchers is scheduled for 2 p.m. on the back diamonds at the Roger Dean Stadium complex. It's free and open to the public.  Bring a hat and sunscreen. Shade is scarce.