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  • What does spring training look like when the fans are nowhere to be seen? Let Red Sox team photographer Billie Weiss take you behind closed doors.
By SI.com Staff
March 11, 2019

The long, slow crawl of spring training is a source of hope for fans aching for some sunshine. For players, it's the annual month to brush up on fundamentals, meet new teammates and either get acquainted or re-acquainted with their coaching staff. It's an opportunity to flee the cold for players hailing from chillier climates, but spring training remains a long, competitive, often arduous stretch intended to get players in shape and finalize a 40-man roster. Positional battles are borne, sleepers are discovered and habits are formed in Arizona's dry heat and Florida's humidity. And when baseball isn't being played, there's plenty of time spent in the weight room and in card games.  

Billie Weiss, the Boston Red Sox team photographer for Getty Images, offers an in-depth look at what happens in spring training when the fans aren't present. It may or may not look like the life you envision as a professional ballplayer. This is life for a Boston Red Sox team looking to defend their World Series title.

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

Chris Sale is one of the most feared players in the game, but has never won a Cy Young award in his nine-year career despite six consecutive top-five finishes. The 29-year-old lefty has a reputation as being one of the fiercest competitors in baseball, one who tore up a collection of jerseys because he felt the team looked foolish when he was a member of the White Sox. Sale won't be competing for the role as Boston's ace, perhaps making it easier to chuckle on a long Fort Myers, Florida day. 

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated
Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated
Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

How does the reigning AL MVP prepare himself to remain one of the game's elite talents? Mookie Betts does it all: he hits for power and average, he is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game and he's in some of the best physical shape of anybody in the game.

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated
Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated
Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

Eduardo Nuñez contributed to the team's World Series title in 2018, but has coped with knee trouble since a ligament strain ended his 2017 season. He says he's 100% healthy now, in no small part because of the rigorous workout schedule required to return to full health at age-31. Jackie Bradley Jr., (below) meanwhile, surprised the baseball world with several clutch homers in the 2018 playoffs. Perhaps it's because he can focus on boosting his power as he's already renowned as the game's best defensive centerfielder.

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated
Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

 

Who doesn't love a dog in the clubhouse? Catcher Blake Swihart (above) and starting pitcher Rick Porcello (below) enjoyed the arrival of a couple of pups after long days of workout.

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated
Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

Looking at Andrew Benintendi stroll down the hallway, it's clear that walking with bats and balls can be a struggle, which is probably why Brock Holt opted for a casual scooter ride around the Red Sox complex.

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated
Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

Clear and successful communication is the root of any productive workplace. Alex Cora, the 43-year old manager of the Red Sox and a 14-year veteran, might be the model for what baseball looks for in a contemporary manager: A bilingual former player who embraces analytics who comfortably communicates with his players and allows his players to stay loose in a structured environment. He was the bench coach on the Astros' 2017 World Series winner and the manager of Boston's championship team in 2018. What else could you ask for a man whose playing career ended just eight seasons ago?

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

Catcher Blake Swihart faced the tragedy of losing his younger brother, 23-year-old Rommell Jordan, in late February as he had just reported to camp. The next day, he gave a bat to an adoring fan. Here, he awaits to sign autographs for fans. However Swihart processed such an unthinkable tragedy, he demonstrated strength by appearing for fans.

Billie Weiss/Sports Illustrated

Ultimately, you can't play baseball all day long. Sometimes, it's important to forget about the game and just play some cards.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)