We were just kicked out of the clubhouse about 15 minutes earlier than usual this morning, told that we were being asked to leave for a team meeting.
While we did have access, a number of reporters surrounded Mike Lowell, who hasn't talked much since his arrival, asking him about a variety of topic, most importantly about his feelings on Manny Ramirez's delayed arrival to camp. Here's the question-and-answer session from today.
Would it help to have Manny here now?
"I think in the standpoint where we kind of all want to be on the same page, but he came in March 1 last year and he didn't look too shabby. If he comes in in shape, which I'm assuming he is. I mean I actually talked to guys in Fort Lauderdale who were working out with him, said he was working out real hard. I'd like to see him here March 1, be on board with everyone else, have a good year with us."
But last year March 1 was before the Grapefruit League schedule. This year it's after the games have started. Is that an issue?
"Not when your owner says it's OK. What am I going to do? Tell him he's wrong? Manny's been given some leeway. I think we're giving him, like last year, some [leeway] on this reporting day. We'll see how it goes from there. I hope it goes well."
Comfortable with more accomplished players getting more leeway?
"It's like Jimmy Johnson says, If Troy Aikman falls asleep in the video, he'll nudge him and tell him to wake up. If the second string special teams guy falls asleep, he cuts him."
What about the car show?
"I'll wait til it's true. I don't know. Concerning Manny there's a lot of things you hear that aren't true, and some are. So put a TBA on that one."
How is he as a teammate?
"I get along with him great. He's a different personality. I think he has this, I think, stereotype about him that he's just this aloof guy who has this amazing ability to hit, who just comes to the field and puts up unbelievable numbers. That's really not true at all. On the road he's lifting weights in the morning. It's not like he shows up on a Tuesday and then he'll show up maybe four weeks later. He's got his own plan hitting. A lot of times he doesn't like to hit outside, but you know what, a lot of guys don't. But he's inside the cage, does a lot of those visualization drills before the game. That's kind of an accelerated type thing. Most people don't really concentrate on the visual. He feels comfortable with that. So I mean, he could eat four bananas and a slice of pizza before every game. If it makes him hit that way, you'll see a lot of guys eating four bananas and a slice of pizza. There's a method to his madness, though, it's not just like this guy shows up with his crazy hair and starts killing pitchers. He's got a plan."
When does he become a distraction?
"We'll wait and see. He can be great. He can be phenomenal for this team. He actually can be slightly a uniting guy. It's not where you guys see it, you know, it's on the team bus where he feels more comfortable. I think he can be a tremendous asset to this team. Our chances of winning a World Series are much better with him than without him."
There will be much more later, especially if Curt Schilling decides to hold court.
And check out my boston.com chat at 3 p.m. I'm happy to answer any and all questions that you might have about what's going on down here in sunny Fort Myers.