(Here is a column by Daily Item Sports Correspondent Dan Margarita who recently was in Florida for Spring Training)


FT. MYERS, Fla. — I like to think that I’m here on behalf of those of you who could not get here yourself. Let’s face it, though, I’m here because I couldn’t take the winter any longer.

I booked a flight through Spirit Airlines, which is no easy feat. Their website is confusing and slow. It took 24 hours to set a new password, as I found out the next day when there were 12 e-mails in my inbox for a new password request. The first line of their “baggage fees” reads, “Spirit Airlines has 25 different baggage fees.”

Try as they might, they couldn’t discourage me from fleeing “The Winter That Wouldn’t Quit.”

I’ll watch a baseball game anywhere, anytime, but a chance to see the new-look Red Sox is even more appealing.

March 22 — Being a home game, most of the Red Sox regulars start and show a lot of promise. Steven Wright, the pitcher and not the surreal comedian, starts and his knuckleball baffles the Philadelphia Phillies batters.

On the offensive side Mookie Betts leads off with an opposite field ground-rule double and scores on a double by Dustin Pedroia and the Sox lead 1-0. Things are looking good.

Later I head away from my seat and while I’m away I hear a long and sustained cheer. Something has happened and the cheer is too long for it to have been just a great play. Then I head to the concession stand and while putting mustard on my hot dog, another big cheer happens.

As I learn upon returning to my seat, the first cheer was due to an inside-the-park home run by Betts and the second cheer was for a three-run home run by Hanley Ramirez.

Sox fans have been arguing that they need a number one starting pitcher but clearly the team’s pennant hopes rely on my spending the season away from my seat and buying hot dogs.

Later in the game some of the regulars are replaced by guys wearing numbers like “82.” There’s a reason they wear such numbers and it shows with some shoddy defense, allowing the Phillies to stage a comeback. But the Sox manage to hold on to win 7-6 with me having witnessed but three of their seven runs scored.

March 23 — Initially it seems like we have time for breakfast but instead opt for a Dunkin’ Donuts meal and with a CVS stop so I can buy some sunglasses, it’s a good thing we didn’t stop for breakfast.

The Red Sox have a large and devoted following, so the traffic getting into JetBlue Park eats up a lot of time, making the decision to skip breakfast seem prudent.

The food options at JetBlue Park are many. Gone are the days of settling for a hot dog and a beer. Those are still available, of course, with a Sam Adams Boston Lager commanding an $8.25 price.

You needn’t settle for that as pizza, burgers, nachos, chicken tenders and more are available food options.

It’s a little overcast, making my purchase of sunglasses seem moot and a few light raindrops scatter a few people. However, in the bottom of the fifth inning the skies open and we all head for cover.

Though the game eventually gets called due to the field conditions, I’d still rather stand in the rain at 79 degrees than experience the single digit degree weather that we in New England have all had to put up with.

Tomorrow it’s off the East Coast to see some National League games. Though rain is forecast I will still bring sun screen.

I will also bring an umbrella.