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Spring training notebook: A Cybertruck arrives in the players' lot

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. - A small crowd gathered in the Cleveland Guardians' players parking lot at their spring training complex Monday. They weren't fans seeking someone's autograph; rather, they were team employees, friends, and family members of players (and a few players themselves), gathered around to see José Ramírez's new car: a Tesla Cybertruck.

I was curious, too. One of the bystanders staring along with me said, "Don't get too close, it'll record you."

With its exterior cameras. I took the advice.

Tesla's new pickup truck looks like something from the future due to its triangular shape, sharp edges, and stainless-steel exoskeleton. The doors are bulletproof (if not the windows). Tesla CEO Elon Musk said of the design: "I just wanted to make a futuristic battle tank, something that looked like it came out of 'Blade Runner' or 'Aliens' or something like that."

Athletes are often known for driving luxury - and sometimes outlandish - cars. Ramírez's new ride certainly qualifies as different.

In Guardians spring camp this week, theScore asked Ramírez why he bought it - and how he bought it, as only about 4,000 have been issued to date, with more than a million reservations in place for the vehicle.

"I like that it looks weird. I like weird cars," Ramírez told theScore through an interpreter. "The fact that everyone will have to look at the car, that's what I like the most."

Ramírez' favorite aspect: He doesn't have to carry around a key. The car's entry controls are linked to his phone, and he also has a credit card-like key he keeps in his wallet.

He showed teammates the keycard in the clubhouse Monday, and a few players like pitcher Triston McKenzie asked for a ride.

Some were intrigued. Many opined that the car was ugly.

Ramírez said he saw videos of the truck emerge on social media a few years ago. When he learned last year that production was beginning in Austin, Texas, he wanted one.

"I talked to my agent and asked, 'How do we get one of these?' He advised against it," Ramírez said. "A month later, I talked to my car broker (based in San Diego) and I said, 'I need that car.'"

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Even in a city where Waymo driverless taxis are regularly seen operating, shuttling passengers from Point As to Point Bs without a human driver, Ramírez said his truck's getting unusual attention.

"Everywhere I go, people stop," Ramírez said of driving around Phoenix this spring. "They're recording videos. I try to drive slowly so they can get a good video."

Cleveland's star also owns a Hummer EV. He believes in a clean vehicle future.

"Both of my houses are prepared for EVs," Ramírez said. "My house in Cleveland and also in the Dominican Republic, I have all the elements."

He said he doesn't have a strong opinion on the controversial and polarizing Musk.

An MLBPA official who toured all team camps this spring said he's seen a few Cybertrucks around. The distinctive vehicle could be popping up more and more in player lots.

"It's like a part of the family," Ramírez said. "I love it."

A new car in Cleveland, and a new job

While Ramírez is learning about his new car in Arizona, former MLB catcher Stephen Vogt is learning about his new role.

For Vogt, who replaces longtime manager Terry Francona in Cleveland, this spring is important on-the-job training - he was playing as recently as 2022. Some of the pitchers he's now managing faced him as a player.

Vogt also owns only one year of professional coaching experience. The 39-year-old was the Seattle Mariners' bullpen coach last season.

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I asked him about one thing he's learned so far.

"What I've learned is you cannot take a pitch off," Vogt said. "You cannot zone out. You cannot put your head down."

That's especially challenging today for a rookie manager, given the amount of information to digest pregame and in real time.

Even though he was accustomed to making 175 or more pitch calls in a game as a former big-league catcher, and sat in on countless pregame pitching planning meetings, this is different. He has to be attuned to all players on the field: from outfielders' depth, to infielders' positioning, to whether a situation with a runner on base may be a good hit-and-run setup.

"There's always something to be watching. It's been invaluable for me to have conversations with other coaches, and with players (in game)," Vogt said. "It's been really good for me. I feel like I'm close to getting ready."

There was one instance this spring when Vogt candidly admitted he struggled.

"The biggest negative is getting caught off guard. It speeds up on you. It happened earlier this spring one time," Vogt said. "It was a split-squad in Mesa, (Arizona). There was a base hit, and all of a sudden, boom-boom-boom, it's second and third. 'OK, infield in or not?' I got really sped up, so I'm thankful for that rep. 'OK, I need to stay focused on: if this happens, that happens.' It was a really good rep. I've been good since then."

Giants' Boras Bundle discount

The San Francisco Giants tried to sign Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge in recent winters, but the two elected to play elsewhere.

They almost signed Carlos Correa last winter, until the medicals came back questionable. They seemed to be runners-up with so many free agents in recent years.

But in not landing those stars, other opportunities opened up this offseason, when fewer teams were interested in participating in the free-agent market, whether due to RSN concerns or luxury tax issues.

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The Giants made $300-million plus offers to Correa, Judge, and Ohtani, only to see each turned down.

Instead, they signed four significant players for less than that total this offseason in Jung Hoo Lee (six years, $113 million; not including his posting fee), Blake Snell (two years, $62 million), Matt Chapman (three years, $54 million), and Jorge Soler (three years, $42 million).

The Giants suddenly find themselves very much in the mix in the National League, especially with spring injuries hurting playoff hopefuls like the Reds and Marlins.

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Giants GM Farhan Zaidi was patient with the budget available to him and it paid off - though he said he never had great confidence in a plan like this coming together, in an interview with NBC Sports' Alex Pavlovic.

"If it felt inevitable, I probably could have saved myself, like, several hundred hours on the phone with Scott Boras," Zaidi said. "You know, there are definitely times when you think you're trending in the right direction or you try to look at the market and say we're the best fit and can see this coming together, but by the same token, you've got to remember there are 29 other teams out there and these guys are really good players who can help a lot of teams."

While the Giants won't be declared the winners of this offseason, inking three Boras clients (Lee, Snell, and Chapman: the Boras Bundle) at a discount relative to expectations means they absolutely maximized the value of their winter signings.

Travis Sawchik is theScore's senior baseball writer.

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