By Mike Max

FORT MYERS, Fla. (WCCO) — With almost no one watching, they still play baseball at Fort Myers this time of year — extended spring training under watchful eyes.

“My main thing here is how they compete,” Joel Lepel said. “The scouts, they draft them and they got the tools and everything they want to work for. We try to hone them in.”

There are a number of hopefuls here. They share a baseball dream, some ability and a common trait.

“They’re energetic, they’re willing to learn and they want to learn, it’s just, they expect things to be done tomorrow and that’s not the process,” Doug Mientkiewicz said.

Mientkiewicz knows — he’s been to the big leagues and he’s managing them now.

“I wanted it done yesterday, not tomorrow, so I get it and I understand it,” he said. “But we have the fortunate view of seeing it four, five years down the road.”

See they can spot the high-end guys. That comes easy.

“You take Sano and Eddie Roasrio, for example, those guys had big league tools. Kyle Gibson had big league tools if you look back, Glen Perkins, those guys. But there’s also guys that can grind it out, fight it out,” Lepel said.

They all want to move to Fort Meyrs big league field in spring training. But as they and their manager work their way up, they want to enjoy it, like their skipper.

“I always told people that seen me play, it’s like, I was lucky enough to play as long as I did, but I was born to do this,” Mientkiewicz said.


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