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Legends of the spring

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Posted: Friday February 16, 2001 4:47 PM
Updated: Friday February 16, 2001 5:09 PM


Throughout spring training, will feature regular dispatches from Sports Illustrated staffers assigned to scout camps in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues.

By Jeff Pearlman, Sports Illustrated

TEAM: New York Yankees

SITE: Tampa, Fla.

WEATHER: Hot, hot, hot. Mid 80s, with direct sun and a slight breeze.

PLAYER I SAW WHOM I REALLY LIKED: Chuck Knoblauch. For 10 minutes, I sat in the Yankees' dugout watching Knoblauch throw to first. I was an easy target -- right in his line of fire. I have no cranial dents. Neither eye is black and blue. My ribs are in one piece. Yeah, it was just infield practice. But his throws were fine.


  • Today was the first day of workouts and the 200 or so spectators at Legends Field were in for a treat. In a fenced-off area to the side of the field, Orlando Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens threw side by side by side by side by side. Surely, it can be argued that in baseball's storied history (not counting All-Star games) never have five more golden pitchers tossed in one location. It was something magical. Fans followed the quintet from place to place; reporters tagged along, more for enjoyment than a scoop.

  • George Steinbrenner made his first appearance a doozy. After being greeted by a swarm of reporters, he snapped at Joel Sherman of The New York Post. Big Stein was angered by one of Sherman's offseason pieces, and let the world know it.

  • Knoblauch interrupted an interview to give a big hug to Bernie Williams, who was making his first appearance of the spring. Chuck looked his pal up and down, then noticed the center fielder's slightly puffed afro. "What are you doing?" Knoblauch asked. "Going with the Kobe?"

  • Fans applauded several Yankees as they emerged from the clubhouse, but an especially loud greeting was reserved for pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who missed much of last season with blood plasma cancer (now in remission). Stottlemyre seemed to genuinely appreciate the affection.

    Sports Illustrated senior writer Jeff Pearlman will check in periodically with reports from his tour of spring camps.

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