First workouts in Auburn for Short Season Single-A Doubledays

June 3, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Samford Bulldogs outfielder Brandon Miller (25) catches a ball for an out during the third inning in game six of the Tallahassee regional at Dick Howser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

The first song through the loudspeakers when the 2012 Auburn Doubledays took their first batting practice on June 14 was, "We Are Young."

The irony fell flat for most of them.

There were batting practice pitches to hit, bases to run, grounders to take.

These guys are professional baseball players now.

"Today is a lot like a birthday when you know you have gifts coming, but we couldn't open them until now," Washington Nationals head of player development Doug Harris said as he watched the team's first workout. "We are really watching and this is a fun time for us."

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and its stipulations on signing draft picks etc., had much of the team in Auburn for the first workouts of minicamp. With half a dozen players still traveling to Upstate New York, and numbers yet to be haggled over, the roster is due out June 15. Having so many players ready to go was the best part for Harris.

"I can't remember the last time he had a near full contingent here right away," Harris said. "This is a great place for our kids to start."

Harris called them "kids."

Some of them are Nationals No. 2 pick Tony Renda (who hit a homerun in his first batting practice session) and No. 4 pick Brandon Miller (who also left the yard in BP). Fifth-round pick Spencer Kieboom and Bryce Harper's older brother, Bryan, are also in camp.

"The first line I am going to tell them is that they are part of the Washington Nationals family," Harris said. "We are a family. We take great care of the kids. We are going to do everything we can to help them attain their goals."

Manager Gary Cathcart pounded home the Washington mantras of routine and fundamentals to the freshest members of the organization's "family."

"It is a lot of information the first day with meetings. Getting on the field is the easy part," Cathcart said.

"I had seen some of the 'presents' early, but there were new ones today too," the manager said perpetuating Harris' analogy. "In this game you observe. You don't make early predictions."

"It is like having a whole new box of toys and now you get to open them up and see how they work," Cathcart said.

The Doubledays open up the season on the road at Batavia (St. Louis affiliate) on June 18 and then host those Muckdogs on June 19.

The song that was playing when Cathcart was talking, "Young & Wild & Free."


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