LAKELAND, Fla. -- Even in a humdrum session of live batting practice, Phil Coke can be an entertainer, intentionally or otherwise. On Thursday, he was a little bit of both.
The left-hander's celebration after getting a swing and miss from right-handed hitting prospect Avisail Garcia was clearly in jest, as was his request for fellow prospect Nick Castellanos to stay in the batters' box against him. When Coke buried a pitchout attempt in the dirt and skipped it past, manager Jim Leyland ribbed him back.
"What was that?" Leyland yelled out.
Leyland was still chuckling about it afterwards.
"It was supposed to be a pitchout," Leyland explained. "It turned out to be a pitch-in. He's a goofy one, but he's pretty good."
Then Leyland relaxed.
"I'm glad pitchers' BP is over," Leyland sighed. "We're done. We got through it."
Leyland's concern every year is that somebody could get hurt, whether it's a pitcher overdoing it or a hitter getting struck. The only incident of the latter this spring, Leyland said, came from a pitch that a coach threw.
Catchers are relieved, too. A catcher's worst nightmare, Alex Avila explained, is a foul tip that bounces off the top of the cage and hits the catcher in the back, where they don't have padding.
"We had a couple close calls," Avila said.