FORT MYERS, Fla — Just for fun, I asked the Red Sox if I could get behind a hitter in the batting cage. Surprisingly, they said yes. Infielder Tzu-Wei Lin was at bat. I crouched low behind him with a camera but not a glove. Uh, maybe I didn’t think this through. Lin looked at me like I was crazy.
“Do not miss,” I said.
The cage forms a picture frame around the hitter and isolates him from the fans. There’s a mat covering the batter’s box. It’s spongy and retains a good grip. Assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett delivered a medium-speed meatball right down the middle. For a split second, Lin stood motionless, the beautiful, white, shiny ball with the spinning red seams headed straight for my midsection. But then Lin uncoiled and crushed a towering shot to right-center. I was relieved. Lin later said he felt a lot of pressure.
“When you walked in there, I said, ‘Oh my God, really, you’re going to take a picture from behind home plate?’ ” Lin said. “I was scared, and Andy was too. If I swing and miss, you are going to get hurt. So I tried to just hit the ball.”