Catcher Caleb Joseph still can't believe that he's in major league camp. He's waiting for someone to pinch him - though that might not be a good idea in the shower area.
"All of these names," he said, gazing at the rows of lockers. "It's like Christmas in February."
Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman reported to camp earlier today and ducked inside the weight room, which also is much bigger than my townhouse.
No more tents set up in the parking lot.
Championship banners have been hung outside Ed Smith Stadium. Each time I step outside, I notice another improvement over the old facility.
"This is really nice," catcher Matt Wieters said. "I can't imagine what it's going to look like after $30 million is put into it."
I have to keep reminding myself that the major renovations aren't scheduled until after spring training ends.
Troy Patton is here and looking forward to getting more innings this spring with the minor league complex only 15 minutes away. The coaching staff can more easily split up the innings, which means more of an opportunity for Patton.
Patton hit the wall last season once he reached 100 innings, coming down with a tired arm that affected his location more than his velocity. He also talked about the mental fatigue that struck after he missed the 2008 season following labrum surgery.
Patton played catch earlier today and has thrown off a mound about six times since last season ended.
"I've done the normal routine to get ready," he said.
Patton noted that it's taking him a little longer than usual to get loose, "but that's because of the cold weather." Apparently, it gets chilly in Houston, too.
As for his mindset entering camp, Patton said he'll try to build innings and stay healthy. Same as last year.
"I want to have a full, healthy year and just pitch well," he said. "Doesn't matter what team I'm on. You guys know that."
One more update: We found a great little diner, Gus 12th Street Cafe, that's a short walk from the stadium. One of the best gyros I've eaten. And the prices are ridiculously low.