Good morning from Viera, where the sun is shining and one of the most anticipated bullpen sessions in Grapefruit League history is less than two hours away. Stephen Strasburg will step on the mound this morning to throw a bullpen session, but if the event itself is mundane enough, the treatment it's receiving is not. ESPN is setting up camp today, its "Baseball Tonight" tour stop in Viera neatly (and probably intentionally) timed with Strasburg's bullpen session. The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer have also dispatched reporters from the other side of the state to watch the phenom's appearance.
Strasburg will be the main event of the day, and the only other news this morning has nothing to do with baseball. It comes from reliever Tyler Clippard, who's enjoying his man-of-the-hour status after acing the par-3 4th hole at Duran Golf Club yesterday.
Clippard, who was playing with John Lannan and a pair of friends from the minors, hit a pitching wedge that landed a few feet behind the pin on the back-to-front sloping green, spun back and rolled into the cup. It was his first hole-in-one in 15 years of playing golf, and he celebrated accordingly.
"I was running down the fairway," Clippard said. "We saw the whole thing. That was the coolest part about it."
It came on a day where Clippard shot 79 on what I've heard is a fairly difficult course. So we're not talking about your average weekend hacker here. But pressed a little further -- actually, by starting pitcher Collin Balester -- Clippard revealed what might be the secret to his success.
"On the third hole -- I didn't eat any lunch -- so the cart girl comes up, and I order two hot dogs," Clippard said. "I eat the first hot dog -- next shot, 'Bam!' Hole in one. I'm like, 'Alright,' going crazy. The next hole, I'm not even thinking about food, I've still got this other hot dog, whatever. The hole after that, I eat the other hot dog. On my approach shot, I hit it in the bunker. Plugged lie in the bunker, and I chip that in. It's these lucky, lucky hot dogs. It was crazy, man."
He's planning to go back to the course today and report the hole-in-one -- hoping for a free drink, his name on a plaque or something.
Or maybe another hot dog.