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Mitts are popping; pitchers and catchers report

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Finally we have something spring training-related to think about. 

J.J. Ortiz of the Chronicle had this interesting description:

Cooper's eyes lit up when Valverde used colorful, forceful language to make clear that he will not participate in the World Baseball Classic.

Wow, "colorful, forceful language" sounds like something you might not be able to print in your friendly morning newspaper.  I think it would have been fun to hear it.

Another Ortiz quote:

"Man, that hombre looks strong," Quintero said as Valverde threw a bullpen session to Rule 5 pick Lou Palmisano.

OK, I know we are entering the spring training period of cliches, as players give quotes about how ready they are.  But we have been waiting for spring training so long that even cliches sound good.

Richard Justice has a chronicle blog on spring training "story lines."

Among the interesting tid bits was Justice's discussion of Cecil Cooper's up and down year as manager last season:

Cecil Cooper. He was some kind of uptight at the beginning of last season and struggled both with the on-the-field and clubhouse duties of a manager. He seemed so over his head at one point that Alyson Footer telephoned Phil Garner and said, ''You need to talk to Coop.'' He did things that lost the clubhouse, and there are players he may never get back in terms of respect. On the other hand, he was the manager filling out the lineup cards and calling the shots when the Astros had that 47-27 run between June 20 and September 11. He calmed down and got comfortable. This is his second time around, and things should be easier. But he's in the last year of his contract and it's telling that the Astros didn't extend him. This is a stupid decision. Even if the Astros don't think he'll be managing in 2010, they should have signed him for 2010 to remove his job security as an issue.

There seem to be some new nuggets of information about Cooper last season.  Footer, the reporter of the story, becomes part of the story, by trying to get Garner to calm down Cooper?  He may never get some of the players' respect back?  Well, I wish you would be a little more specific if you are going to make that charge, Richard.  I'm not saying Justice is wrong. But I was hoping that Cooper's stronger finish to the season as manager might help win support in the clubhouse.  I am neutral on Justice's criticism of the Astros for not renewing Cooper's contract yet.  I know such renewals are common.  But I've never understood why a manager always expects to manage with an extra year left on his contract.