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Arriving for the first time at Dodgers' Camelback Ranch

February 26, 2010 |  3:35 pm
It’s the first full-squad workout of the spring, my first time ever at the Dodgers’ spring training home in Arizona, and here are some first impressions and observations:

-- Camelback Ranch is gorgeous, with deep green grass surrounded by rocks and building material in desert hues. The stadium, shared with the White Sox, is impressive and feels massive at 10,000 seats.

The complex certainly lacks the charm of Dodgertown. The surrounding area smacks of typical suburbia and doesn’t have the distinctive, tropical feel of Vero Beach, Fla.

But it’s modern and clean and a five-hour drive from L.A., not a five-hour plane ride.

-- Camelback Ranch is owned by the city of Glendale but is actually in Phoenix. Not sure how that helps the Glendale economy.

-- The first workout felt like a marathon affair. Manager Joe Torre conducted a lengthy meeting first, before Larry Bowa led a nearly hourlong session in base running.

You’d think they’d know the proper way to run the bases at this level, but fundamentals are making a comeback.

"I think we’re going to repeat it at some point," Torre said.

The entire practice lasted 4½ hours.

-- Torre drives around camp in a golf cart, coach Manny Mota rides a bike, and everybody else walks. Except when Tommy Lasorda is here, and he gets a golf cart with a driver.

-- Eric Gagne, wearing a beard perhaps until the Canadian hockey team is finished, looks like he’s dropped more than 5 pounds since the last time he was in baseball.

-- Ann Meyers Drysdale came by camp for a visit. Meyers, who lives in Huntington Beach, is the general manager of WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and a vice president of the Suns.

-- You can be here all day and not see a single member of the White Sox. The teams’ complexes are contiguous but completely separate.

-- There seems to be way too many players in camp. The Dodgers list 64, counting Venezuelan reliever Ronald Belisario, who is still resolving his visa issue.

-- The Torre turnaround: He plans to fly to Southern California after practice Saturday to attend that night’s Nokia Theater event with Sandy Koufax, hosted by Times columnist T.J. Simers, and then catch a flight back to Phoenix later that night.

-- Steve Dilbeck, in Phoenix