The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on February 26, 2003 · Page 72
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 72

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Page 72
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S C THE PALM BEACH POST WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2003 9C t SPRING TRAINING TOUR THIRD STOP: CHAIN 0' LAKES PARK )ark Diits Old eft AtyMfc steD grain r 1 Columnist Dave George takes a trip through Florida and brings home the best of the Grapefruit League in this six-part series. Cleveland Indians fans scramble to get an autograph from coach Buddy Bell after practice at Chain 0' Lakes Park. V ' V " '" if" -; f" , i. " : I ,7 ' I v . .-- ..'; ' ' By DAVE GEORGE ' Palm Beach Post Staff Writer - WINTER HAVEN - Bob Strohl couldn't believe how easy it was. He asked a Winter Haven real-estate broker for a condo near the Cleveland Indians' spring-training facility and got one so tight to the action that he can practically watch the exhibition games from his back window. "I'm right out there, behind the Tampa Electric sign on the right-center field wall," said Strohl, 62 and retired from Findlay, Ohio. "We'll be here for about two months, my wife and I. Sometimes I come out in the morning and find one or two baseballs on the grass at our complex or in the hedges. I usually send them up North to nephews or nieces." Why waste money on shipping Florida citrus when a taste of summer is much more welcome on a snowy day in February or March? . That's the casual manner in which the Indians and their fans relate at nostalgic Chain 0' Lakes : J v 1 i ' :b . Asl,UW 0 ' 1 "....I : f:t,-: i ,111 -,i ,. .... if Bechler's wife plans to sue drug maker The Associated Press TORT LAUDERDALE -The widow of Steve Bechler plans to sue the manufacturer of a dietary supplement the Baltimore pitcher was believed to be taking before his death. Bechler, 23, died Feb. 17 from heatstroke after collapsing during a workout at training camp. In his preliminary autopsy report, Broward County chief medical examiner Joshua Perper linked Bechler's death to a diet supplement that contains ephedra. A bottle of Xenadrine RFA-1, an over-the-counter weight-loss product containing ephedra, was found in Bechler's locker. 'The way we see it, Steve Bechler is dead, and ephedra is the primary cause of death," David Meiselman, the lawyer for Kiley Bechler, said Tuesday. Perper plans to release the final toxicology report in about two weeks. "We will wait for the toxicology report to come back, do our homework, then go hunting for the company that distributes this drug," Meiselman said. 'This drug is a killer." Cytodyne Technologies of Manasquan, N.J., the supplement's manufacturer, said it was "reckless and irresponsible for an attorney to prematurely place blame or deflect responsibility to others for the events leading up to Mr. Bechler's death." - : "It's unfortunate that this attorney was chosen to ignore the fact that Mr. Bechler had a number of serious medical conditions," the company said in a statement. Said Meiselman: "It's never their fault, and in the meantime, people are dying. It's important to note that three days before his death, Steve Bechler passed a physical exam to play baseball." Hoffman will have surgery Die Associated Press PEORIA, Ariz. Trevor Hoffman already is concentrating on his comeback and not the shoulder operation that will make him miss half the season. "We're going to take care of this," the San Diego Padres' closer said Tuesday after deciding to have surgery. "I'll do the things in rehab that I need to do to get on the field and pitch." In 10 major-league seasons, including part of his rookie season in 1993 with the Florida Marlins, Hoffman never has been on the disabled list. Manager Bruce Bochy said the length of rehabilitation won't be known until the surgery. It will be performed this week in Los Angeles by Anaheim Angels medical director Lewis Yocum. General Manager Kevin Towers was optimistic Hoffman can pitch sometime after the All-Star break. Torre, Santo, Miller could get Hall call: The Hall of Fame's veterans committee will announce its selections today. New York Yankees manager Joe Torre is a top candidate in this first election since the Veterans Committee revamped its rules to let actual Hall of Famers do most of the voting. Ron Santo, Gil Hodges and former players' union head Marvin Miller might might fare well. Yankees' Matsul has root canal: Hideki Matsui worked out with the New York Yankees in Tampa, one day after having a root canal. Torre said Matsui will play in the Yankees' exhibition opener Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds. Drelfort progresses: The Dodgers' Darren Dreifort threw two scoreless innings in an intrasquad game in Vero Beach. He struck out two and allowed one hit. . , , Dreifort, 30, has pitched in just 16 games since signing a five-year, $55 million contract before the 2001 season. He underwent elbow -surgery in 2001 and had arthroscopic knee surgery last year. Noteworthy: Pitcher Luke Prokopec was placed on the 60-day disabled list by the Cincinnati Reds, who claimed Boston in-fielder Dernell Stenson off waivers. . . . In-fielder Jose Offerman agreed to a minor-league contract with Montreal and was invited to spring training. fy -V V ,Mr - Tour stops Thursday: Tampa, New York Yankees ; Friday: Bradenton, . Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday: Fort Myers, Boston Red Sox On the Web Miss a stop? Take the spring training tour with Dave George and look at the photo gallery., Click on Sports. Park, but it may soon be coming to an end. Like the fading Wahoo logo on a nearby city water tank, the relationship between the team and the city is not as fresh as it used to be. The Indians have been here since 1993, and the Boston Red Sox for 26 springs before that. Talk is that the Indians are bound for Fort Myers, with a possible i 4, " "v-"?:i X.. i JA Photos by ALLEN EYESTONEStaff Photographer At Chain 0' Lakes Park, old oak trees stretch above the third-base roof and a beautiful lake is visible from the top of the first-base grandstand. But the facility isn't modern and the Indians may leave Winter Haven. temporary stop in Port Charlotte. ; : Too bad, for there's not a prettier park in Florida, or a quirkier one. Ancient oak trees stretch above the third-base roof. Marsh birds squawk and ski boats race on a beautiful lake that can be viewed by climbing to the top of the first-base grandstand. And then there's the outfield, which is as big as a nature preserve itself. The foul poles measure 340 feet from home plate and it's a 420-foot shot to center. This is a stadium built when men were men. ' It's a facility built before the dawn of weight training, too. Walk out to the Indians' minor-league complex and the crowded conditions are evident as kids pump iron under an aluminum cover with industrial fans set on high drone. The Indians wouldn't be here at all if not for Hurricane Andrew, which ripped up a new training facility in Homestead in 1992 just as Cleveland was preparing to occupy it. Maybe the Baltimore Orioles will move up here from Fort Lauderdale to be closer to other teams. Maybe Chain 0' Lakes will be chained up and abandoned, as early as next year. ;; There is much to enjoy in the meantime, and the good folks of Ohio won't miss the chance. Their license plates dominate the parking lot, telling the story of a fan base whose loyalty has survived 54 years without a World Series title. At a recent workout Doug Wyler of Ashland, Ohio, was indoctrinating a new generation. He stood behind the outfield fence of distant Field 4 with three sons and a daughter, ages 4-17. All had gloves, and all were on the hunt for batting-practice home runs. " "We got eight balls today, but we gave two of them away," Wyler said. Sharing comes more naturally at Chain 0' Lakes, where everybody gets their fill of spring baseball at its most informal. Welcome to Chain 0' Lakes Park Directions to Chain 0' Lakes Park, Winter Haven: Take 1-4 to U.S. 27 South at Baseball City. Turn right onto State Road 544. Turn right at light at post office, then make next left onto U.S. 17. Follow to park. Tickets: (866) 488-7423 Cleveland Indians spring home schedule When you go to Winter Haven, don't forget to: Stop by Beef O'Brady's family sports bar just one-half mile from the park. It's a favorite of spring-training fans with autographed pictures of sports stars on the walls and every booth dedicated to a particular pro or college team. B Tip your cap as you drive past the Holiday Inn on nearby U.S. 17. Ted Williams is said to have had breakfast there regularly in the many years the Red Sox trained in Winter Haven. Hit the Dairy Queen concession stand inside the stadium. It's a great day for baseball. Let's eat two Dilly Bars. Learn the names of the lakes that form the chain around Winter Haven. That's Lake Lulu next to the ballpark. Some of the others are Lake Florence, Lake Otis, Lake Roy, Lake Eloise, Lake Ned and Lake Maude. What is this? Mayberry? Friday vs. Pittsburgh (ss) 1:05 p.m. Sunday vs. Detroit 1:05 p.m. Tuesday vs. Cincinnati 1:05 p.m. March 6 vs. Toronto 1:05 p.m. March 7 vs. Atlanta 1:05 p.m. March 8 vs. Philadelphia 1:05 p.m. March 9 vs. Minnesota (ss) 1:05 p.m. March 10 vs. N.Y.Yankees 1:05 p.m. March 12 vs. Minnesota 1:05 p.m. March 14 vs. Los Angeles 1:05 p.m. March 16 vs. Tampa Bay 1:05 p.m. March 21 vs. Boston 1:05 p.m. March 22 vs. Detroit 1:05 p.m. March 25 vs. Houston 1:05 p.m. March 26 vs. Montreal 6:05 p.m. Present, future Hall of Famers consider Hriniak their mentor career and now that he's gone I'm hitting under .300." Hriniak, though, has his critics, including Williams, who once said Lau's theories "may have set hitting back 25 years." Hriniak, who played for Lau in Class AA Shreveport, La., in 1968, would only say, "1 don't know" when asked why Williams shunned Lau's teachings. Others say that Hriniak clones hitters, teaching them all to swing the same way. "If you really believed that watching the ball was important, wouldn't you try to teach everybody to watch the ball? So, yeah, I've cloned certain things," Hriniak said. "I try to get everybody to do certain things and number one is to watch the ball and teach them how to watch the ball by keeping the head down. What they do after that, letting go, hang on. . . . There's only one thing that's really etched in stone to me, and that's watching the ball." day, Hriniak had Taguchi take a swing, grabbed the bat as Taguchi started his follow-through and brought it back just as Taguchi had. "No," Hriniak said. Hriniak then repeated the process, this time bringing the bat over Taguchi's head on the follow-through. "Yes," Hriniak said. The next time Taguchi stepped in the cage he hit four of eight balls over the left-field fence. Hriniak and Vina were the last two' Cardinals to end their day Tuesday after spending about 50 minutes in the cage following workouts and an intrasquad game. Hriniak lobbed pitch after pitch as Vina worked on his swing. "The guy has so much knowledge, he's studied everybody in the game and has been around all the great hitters," Vina said. "To have him here is special for us. You've got to keep your ears open and learn as much as you can." ECriniak, whose last day with the HRINIAKhw ic thing wrong but saw the ball, you'd hit. You did everything right and not see the ball, you're not going to hit." Five-time batting champion Wade Boggs credits Hriniak for his success. White Sox designated hitter Frank Thomas brought Hriniak to spring training three years ago to help regain his stroke. Several others, from Carl Yastrzemski to Ventura, consider Hriniak their mentor. "Walter Hriniak is the best coach I ever had," said Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins' third-base coach whose three best hitting seasons in his 16 years were under Hriniak in Chicago. "His work ethic is unbelievable. He didn't just worry about the stars. It didn't matter what kind of player you are, he was always worried about you." Hriniak gets so focused on a team's hitters, he doesn't get to know the names of the pitchers. While others stand around the batting cage conversing, Hriniaks analyzing ev Cardinals is Saturday, has turned down offers by the Cardinals, Red Sox and Brewers to work full-time since he was fired by the WTiite Sox in 1995. "My time has come and gone," he said. Hriniak spent seven seasons with the White Sox after 12 years in Boston. Boggs, who hit .328 during an 18-year career, hit .365 in his first seven seasons in Boston, all with Hriniak. But when Hriniak left the Red Sox in 1989, he and Boggs never hooked up again. Boggs finished his career hitting .307 over the next 11 seasons. The night Tampa Bay held a ceremony to honor Boggs for his 3,000th hit, Hriniak and Ted Williams were among the small gathering of friends Boggs invited. "Maybe I just took Walt for granted," Boggs once said as his average began to dip in the post-Hriniak years. "He was here every day, saying, 'Do this, do that.' Now I'm doing it by myself. It's kind of a coincidence I've hit .350 my whole ery swing. "I would tell the hitters the first day of spring training that I would never miss a swing that they take," Hriniak said. "And I never did. I never talked, I didn't mess around. Writers would come to me while they were hitting, friends would come by and want to talk and I'd say, Til talk to you later.' " Hriniak, who turns 60 in May, is at the batting cage every morning at sunrise and long after the players have left the field. He'll pop out from behind the pitching net periodically to quiz his batters, offer instruction and just keep an open line of communication. "He'll ask you a question to get your feedback," Cardinals outfielder Kerry Robinson said. "Hell let you speak before he speaks. He'll give you the opportunity to say what you're thinking before just telling you. That's really a good approach. You feel more involved." After watching prospect So Taguchf'itake batting practice Tues

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