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WHEELER: Notes From Jupiter: Jaime Garcia Takes The Mound in Ft. Myers

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It’s a pretty quiet day here in Jupiter. Most of the team is on the road to Ft. Myers for this afternoon’s game against the Red Sox (12:35 CT) and the rest of the team is already pretty much done for the day. They took the field about an hour earlier than the day’s plan had called for so the guys remaining here can have a little more of the day for themselves and their families.

Most of the team’s big-name hitters stayed here in Jupiter – Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Carlos Beltran, David Freese, Allen Craig, Rafael Furcal and Yadier Molina will be sitting out this afternoon’s matchup.

The big story of the day, if there is such a thing on a day like this, is Jaime Garcia’s start against Boston. Garcia has been full-speed ahead since reporting to Florida in advance of Spring Training and it will be very interesting to see how things go beginning today.

No matter how things go for Jaime today it will not be the full or final story, just a piece of it as we build toward Opening Day. I know he and the team are tired of questions about his shoulder but those kinds of things will persist until people see something that puts them to bed.

So today it begins for Jaime when it comes to game action. He’s looked good so far, his delivery has been free and easy, and a couple of innings today (good or bad) won’t mean a heck of a lot unless he has some pain or stiffness after his appearance.

Then it would become a big story.

Since it’s so quiet here today I think I’ll head over to the Marlins side of the complex and attend Jeffrey Loria’s press conference today. The embattled Marlins owner who tore his team apart after one disappointing season in his new, publicly funded ballpark is expected to face questions today. He spoke with a small group of South Florida reporters last night but today should be interesting.

Loria has already printed a full page ad in the local papers down here explaining to Marlins fans, essentially, that they’re not very smart. Loria wouldn’t agree with that assessment but that’s how the ad came across. He told them, and I’m paraphrasing here, that they won their offseason salary dump trades by “raiding” other teams’ farm systems. In the ad, Loria said that people outside of South Florida praised the deals – which is clearly not true, everyone who covers baseball ripped the Marlins for those deals – and implied fans shouldn’t be angry about the team’s trajectory because, he says, they’re not really the ones paying for his new ballpark.

He pins those costs on tourists, by the way, pointing out that a hotel tax is covering some of the cost.

In other words, Loria stepped in it big time and it will be interesting to see today if he helps his cause or digs himself a deeper hole.

Tune in to Sports Open Line tonight for appearances by Cardinals Farm Director John Vuch,  Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock and a conversation or two with Cardinals’ players as well. There could be more as well…we’ll just have to wait and see.

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