THE NEWBERG REPORT — FEBRUARY 17, 2007

Born on this day:

* **** Bosman (1944)
* Dave Roberts (1951)
* Jim Umbarger (1953)
* Danny Patterson (1971)
* The Texas Rangers Baseball Season (2007)

Happy Holidays.

Time to rip the wrapping paper off the first gift. C.J. Wilson is reprising his role as spring training reporter for the Newberg Report, which began three years ago (as he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery), when he put teammates on the Newberg Report Hot Seat.

We’re going to post these on Eleanor Czajka’s Minor Details page as C.J. files them this spring, but I’m sending this first installment of “Cactus Tracks: Bell Road Adventures” out by email. Enjoy.

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Feb 16

My annual stroll into the Surprise Sports Complex for the first time feels like the equivalent of a blessing from a holy person. I feel cleansed, renewed, and invigorated. Spring training is literally starting this weekend – uniforms are hanging in lockers, equipment fills the floor, and sounds of…wait – where’s the Frank Sinatra?

Bizarro behind the scenes factoid from spring training – clubhouse manager Zack Minasian has nothing but Old Blue Eyes jammin’ over the speakers starting day one. So today when I walked in, hearing some rap music playing was shocking. When you expect “start spreading the news…,” and you’re greeted by “bringing sexy back…” – it’s very disorienting.

Suiting up into my grey pants for the first time in 2007 is a great feeling, kinda like being a little leaguer all over again. Christmas comes in February for me each year – size 13 running shoes and size 12 cleats await in my locker. I’ve always preferred really tight cleats when I pitch; it makes me feel more athletic, I guess.

When I sat down in my seat, I noticed that I was flanked by “the Pirate” – A.J. Murray. Not too many people have any idea who he is, but not only is he a new 40-man roster addition, he’s also lefthanded. I’ve always really liked A.J., and was really happy that he’s kept positive and fought so hard to regain a foothold with the team after missing a lot of time with shoulder issues the last few years.

When we both signed in 2001, he was cast as more of a David Wells type, and I was cast as a Tom Glavine type. It’s kinda funny how those things turn out – we both have turned out to be much more physically blessed than those comparisons, although the hardcore success has yet evaded us. I’ve got a lot of confidence in him as a competitor and really see him being able to contribute either as a starter or a long reliever.

Just a few lockers down is Nate Gold, fresh off the best award acceptance speech at the Sluggers of the West banquet. He’s got a big smile on his face, and he’s got that really humble, best buddy kind of personality that really deserves rewards like coming to camp with the big team.

A lot of new faces and names this spring…

–xthecjx

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You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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