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March 07, 2003

Spring training: Eyes wide shut
By Rob Dibble

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Dan Patrick Show crew started the week in Tucson, Ariz., which was sort of a homecoming for me because I used to play with the White Sox. Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez and everyone appeared to be in great shape.

Steve Odgers, the strength coach when I was with the White Sox, is still there. I spoke to him about starter Bartolo Colon. He said that Colon is one of the strongest guys he's ever worked with. The White Sox trailed the Twins by 13 games last year, and they brought in a 20-game winner in Colon to do it. I think they can get it done.

Zito told the catcher to close his eyes and he would hit his mitt -- and Zito hit the mitt every time.

Our next stop was Tempe, where we saw the defending world champion Anaheim Angels. The Angels were all business. Manager Mike Scioscia is as professional as when he was a Dodger player. He brings that aura of professionalism to his clubhouse, similar to Joe Torre and the Yankees. He said on the radio that he wanted his team to be working and focusing on this year -- it's not a time to do interviews and talk about last year.

Oakland A's manager Ken Macha told me a great story about Barry Zito throwing to (an unnamed) catcher. Zito told the catcher to close his eyes and he would hit his mitt -- and Zito hit the mitt every time. How cool is that? So if people don't already know that Zito is one of the best pitchers in the major leagues, watch out because he's just getting better. Macha heard the story from his pitching coach and wasn't happy about it (that's why he didn't know who was catching).

We've managed to squeeze in some fun. Dan, Sean Salisbury and I went to a Phoenix Suns game against the Trail Blazers. In my free time, I bought myself a new pair of diamond earrings (the wife is thrilled!) and pumped a lot of iron.

What's great about Arizona is that there are lots of sports guys out here to work out with -- not just baseball players. We've hung out with Vikings CB Corey Chavous. He's a great guy and a sports freak. He knows everything about every sport.

And I was particularly impressed by Bills DE Grant Irons. He's HUGE. They've been doing the workout of the future called speed training. It's a totally different way to get in shape. Instead of just pumping iron and running on treadmills, it also teaches agility and stretching. It's almost like a power-lifting yoga class.

I'm working on my farmer's tan ... it's lookin' pretty good so far. See you in Bristol.

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