WEEI>On Demand>>Minor Details Ep. 41: Jackie Bradley Jr., Ryan Lavarnway and the pace of player development

Minor Details Ep. 41: Jackie Bradley Jr., Ryan Lavarnway and the pace of player development

Mar 24, 2013|

Two Red Sox prospects are being subject to radically different player development experiences. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. has become the talk of spring training while positioning himself for a potential Opening Day call-up at the start of what would be just his second full professional season. Meanwhile, catcher Ryan Lavarnway is preparing, in all likelihood, to open the year in Pawtucket for the second straight season, his fifth full season since turning pro. The two of them take stock of their player development experiences -- with Bradley on the so-called fast track and Lavarnway being considered by some to be blocked -- in this podcast episode.

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Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome back to another season of doubt on the farm a weekly look at the players and teams shaping the Red Sox farm system. This week will look at key Red Sox prospects. Who removing it different paces towards their big league opportunity we'll check in with Jackie Bradley junior the 22 year old and a fielder. Whose outstanding performance this spring has been the talk of everyone in Fort Myers treating a lively debate about whether or not he should open the year in the big leagues or the miners. It's pretty remarkable considering the Bradley chicken with the fortieth overall pick in the 2011 draft has played just one full season of professional baseball there's a very good chance that he'll make his way from amateurs out of the big league. Faster than any -- -- position player in decades. Yet none of this seems to be overwhelming to Bradley whose first big league camp is it is noteworthy. For his comfort with the world going on off the field around him as it has been for his strong performance on it. Here he is. What would strike you as being most dramatically different from you know being in minor league camp a year ago everything. Better think that hit the league's better. The baseball as you can debate -- every day it seems brandy did expose every day so unfinished now you today but it is fine. The name interact but rather the big league guys and Tim -- watching these guys. Well I know -- I grew up watching him in and now I'm actually giving a talk with them figure brings little -- interact with. What was the first thing that kind of Turkey was there one person we saw sitting in here to kind of whoa that's -- a different presence there and in the when there is lucky into your minor league camp. Well I guess the biggest war. It was Jon Lester I didn't realize it was that being he's horse. But other than that big -- down. You know he's a big this big big dazzle and you know just being able -- PDAs -- I heard a lot about him in high heat gets on my younger players. Of the and it would you know. Find a happy medium -- him being able to. Take on it deputies did standing and are learning from -- -- -- -- has been his lot of knowledge as well even though you. You know the -- out a little bit on top with a -- Yahoo! also helped me along give you an extra pollution attack and what do you really got to be evident taking it and you know get better from it. It's interesting that you point him out because he's actually from from my vantage point of getting -- -- to see you over the bring. He's someone who I would I I he kind of part of of his game in your game in a in a way to and it. You know he's obviously driven to kind of be able to perform at a high level on all aspects of the game. In and are great off the chart -- do you find that you kind of due to say I kind of relate to him as a player in terms of what he -- on the field. Thumb I I definitely I -- gravitate toward him. -- I think a lot more. I'm because I am I know that he he he worked so a lot of hard he works hard bear or down. And it. He's he's able to play game at a high level. And I'm beginning to talk with him. Tell me I mean just you know little things. -- -- hurt -- he he gives. To me as well you know keep keep it in. You know it really has now. You said earlier in camp that you know you are aware of the tactic to an opportunity to make an impression on a different set of eyes and the one you. That was within the ones that what last year you know the opportunity for the Major League coaching staff you as well. You know that the front office officials were going to EU to to a degree -- -- what you are minor league camp but by virtue of the fact that you do have those eyes on you. What what you're trying to do how are you trying to kind of make an impression on. I blew a clinic gained the right way you know -- times. You know whether ground ball or you know Papa. This being able to everything -- out. You know I get it please and it really pound on them the hustle and I've been going non. You can't was -- -- -- Very first game to pop up it rat catcher and I mean -- -- and I can based out of town it. Hit the ground and it was close to be a fair crowd and another plane was yesterday. In a routine ground ball to third base I was -- first base. And on the job I'm -- mean to -- can normally. You know dazzling and you know beep us in. Are facing you know -- right in. Trying to showed it. You know I wanna be it would you know -- active -- -- played on that I can control. And I think that probably going to be the big -- I'm impression you can make -- because it when everything's going good and you know it's easy to point out that the teams that he's he's doing right but when things aren't. You know going your way. You know it is also easier point out things that he's not human right and I don't want hustling to. The debt are being -- pointed out because when you're not doing well. That usually the first thing they're able to see that either the expression the body language and -- years you. I suppose that I know that it goes into part of your team but the power checking that you do before the game they'll have been. An eye opener and we talked -- a little bit earlier in camp. I've I've never seen an outfielder to treat batting practice with the kind of intense the that you do. What what what are you accomplishing over the course of those rounds of batting practice where you're going after there and -- -- airing at full speed after just about any -- and sometimes. It seems that your your manufacturing plays where you like catching the ball over the shoulder -- manufacturing basket -- is what what's that all about. Yeah as is definite ever really take pride in my defense and -- -- and I've always I've always had down. You know need to that you could be going very well. An art antique square a ball up the pitcher makes some great pitches and you like you've had a bit of -- plastic can be put it. You gonna -- it on time more often than not you're gonna get out of that though. You know defense I don't feel like it. I'd give it a 100 and I am able to catch a couple hundred for an at a bar that I. Feel like I'm should be able to catch an outlet you know even on that complain about -- like that make it -- so I'm gonna try to make it can't. And you know doing that is always came in from. Been able to make how likely. So what I I get to data that is indeed BP network and you know how that means playing -- the grass. I'm playing ball off the wall. But are lower from -- how my legs are feeling that David is it means and they did you not dealing. -- event but you do that be -- you know make adjustments. And that's what I've been trying to do. So it's kind of like celebrating it like it's like the guy who's shooting three pointers or something and on and outdoor court -- -- going to. We'll figure -- definitely and it is a compartment routine to Tom I've I've been doing ever since I was in college and in Iraq as continue to keep doing it it helps me on my conditions on the things. One of the other things that stood out is I feel like every time I've seen you get into -- two strike count does this bring you singled up the middle. You don't tell me about we've talked in the past about how you had that that summer after that it was a first senior high school where you cited. You are not going to swing and so there were two strikes. In terms of just think in terms to like psychologically. When you get to two strike count do you feel like you have the other guy right where he bought them -- That that that necessarily I guess it is like EDS we re really want me. That I get a chance that make up put a wave -- and you know I think -- that I've learned. When I mean you strike when -- noticed right. Being able to relax and treat it. To do like another another pitch he still has to make another pitch around to get me now. Whether two strikes and and I'm going to be tough out back and possibly be and my -- got into drugs because you know I'm I'm ninety page and -- Or the pit and I feel like I can handle or you know do damage -- -- I'm willing to take that hit because he made it and it made a great news. You know I'm not gonna chase and I pitched it. You know -- perfectly placed in you know he he's he's doing his jobs -- make them work a little bit. And had to try to you know final here it is June. I'm trying to get a benefit secondhand doing and I been hit again they had to plan I guess at the middle or. It let's. Most of the time when I got to -- What is there to in two strike approach -- mean when you do get him like are you looking earlier in town. You know maybe to ambush you know ambushed a fastball in and interpret over the -- was with two strikes. You know or drive it in the gaps or something were to strike might have more about a level you know a level line drive swing or do you do you Alter at all for two strikes. Yeah if I -- kind of keep my swing for my name on. You know making. Drastically change with the wing on. At I have to like it is more shorter acting like them. More on -- strength because the he's gonna trying to make up a better pitch or try to make his best paid him two. Listing to extract you know you have room to spare so you might. And put up a little bit. Tried to and paid there and hit today you wanna make sure that you don't get -- Well two -- economy that you know the distance the network accountable. Did it appears that you can handle or -- account that favorably and your way in -- -- I think that would account back -- -- way. And if he happens making a date. I'm down the middle or -- -- ball up much in the charity initiative in the pocket. The way her up the middle. A few differences between this year much damage have been thinking about what your memory serves. Kind of there was. The default development debate and player development was. Is -- going to be ready for Heidi coming -- -- you hadn't had very much professional experience at all after drafted about what half a dozen games ten games. So at that point you know last last year what was your goal simply don't wanna make a favorable impression and try to convince my blog and IA. I'm adding you know coming out of its angle on the -- a South Carolina -- out of Atlanta had a lot of fans there and it have been like a second home with his. -- has made an hour and a half room. -- -- -- -- -- -- We're going to college so. You know I just wanted to you know play until then I was healthy because president was more worried about Maria I'm from from an injury. So addition -- unannounced fully completely overwhelmed my domain -- mean. You know that I was I was back to -- me. How different is it this year though just you know obviously you made it up to double life you had about a half season there you. Performed at an extremely high level of the -- and then you know you kind of discussed how you got tired down the stretch a little bit. Numbers may have taken a little bit of a -- at the end but. You know this camp it seemed like. You know the default was note that a -- coming in was. Is -- going to be able to open here and tell players AAA. It didn't you know when you -- people are seeing you play or a lot of people that they. You know objective skill that that probably isn't too far from being ready for the majors. How how different is it just having that range of possibilities available to you. You hear everything's taken I can turn. But a good thing you. Young players they've -- -- the envelope thing. You know -- not only. You know make a good impression. But I guess on how level show that he's learning and every day. And I and I am learn every day and you know I'm trying to learn that came because they have so much you know knowledge of us to get -- -- a alien planet economic and and at that -- -- You know pretty much of it -- -- as much -- learn from not only coaches with the players. Meaning that a you know follow them make your point. You mean like the small things like -- stretching in our nature and I think over the air damming you know -- you have -- behind Miami series. Here and in congress stays in them because they got that -- in that's how to pick up their things and -- top of the guys down that I play with his win I'm David. -- with damning and what you think about this because this is what I her and and -- -- that's right there as it is gonna help me along along the way in. Further on down the road. Have you gained any sense though in terms of because of either the people we've been facing -- you've been starting a lot even facing kind of you've been facing Major League starting pitchers that at various times to bring granted. Spring training but you've also you know years and you're also around Major League talent have you gotten any and you know. In your mind. Where you're just -- -- -- how close you are really to be mentally -- -- arming them -- class I was worked in non. And a solid. Guy gets completely there I would probably be here but I'm not yet though and she still work hard. In order you know you -- -- -- be and -- -- -- -- and -- hopefully I -- close. -- keep working -- and trying to you know push the envelope then he would things go. Are you surprised by how quickly you are pushing the envelope are you to have you is there has there been any point where you can take -- talking like I've come. In a in a pretty short period of time -- what about though. I want to 21 months removed from the draft him to him but -- team from when you signed. Two in terms of thinking -- this is kind of moving quickly. Found it is moving quickly on that as a good thing because you're going into the professional volume thing. You know what that type path do I want to. You know move ahead or you know do I want to stay right there on court mood when violent. I've always wanted to trying to learn fast acting. Obviously and you keep progressing -- team get better every single day and it is kind of I but I never really -- a down day. You know man I am doing I'm Don Dolan is doing that and -- can't think like that says and I know -- -- I'm going to be and I know that I wanna be in his game for a long time so I got to continuously work and hopefully -- I make it -- some. You -- that you try to study and learn all the guys around you obviously. You know one of the one of the obvious storyline been brought up to basically the time you signed was you know. Jacoby Ellsbury is center fielder you are center fielder there's a chance. Nothing is written in tone but there's a -- that if he were to leave as a free agent after the 2013 and you could be the guy following him. What's it been like working with him what have you been able to take from him in learn from him. Tom did just with them is routinely have really active. To -- the -- complete details about you know we don't -- what -- phone out north today you know I mean we so we got this kind of just. Watch -- and to think they they discuss those. In the MP a talent to want to you I'm duo I'm batting over it they -- scenarios with each other and a I just kind of and there and they and how they. How to do things -- What crossed their mind. When they wanna do certain things -- situation. And this just being able to look at his routine everything of what it was the week as it you know we're -- in cages in the morning. And how he goes to his routine and that he -- -- -- I'm game everything's the same like clockwork and I can pretty much hit. You know do his routine that guy out -- them. Through the past couple -- weeks and is it -- and it's hard work and it's not see -- -- know we got abandoned you know to be able to do all these these great things against the got to work at it. It's gonna be hearings in that because Dave joppy who you are hitting coach and double a last year. Also had Jacoby -- -- in his first full pro season and that. When one of the things and he he compared he saw a lot of similarities between you guys but he's had one thing that Jackie can relate. Kind of dropped from his what you know to Kobe does in the cage before you know in order to get ready on the database -- -- like sounds like you've taken today yeah. Yeah definitely on the -- that China you know learn and look up everything. From anybody on. Is -- and it's been a fun experience and now while there's been in the. When last questions so. You are you become by virtue of the fact that you're in big league camp. You know you're no longer kind of hidden you're you know you're in plain view a lot of a lot of fans. What it would have been like to be you know to kind of be notice again because in -- -- became somewhat accustomed to it over your college career given the level the playing -- -- Back to back national champions and you were college World Series of these fees are not like. You were living in a security but. In time has has this been different then then anything that you experienced before in terms of recognition. Are known as I guess not not different -- did tell a lie under radar trying to get out people. Tom radar with him is -- they're paying attention -- -- more on this kind of telling them about our business the right way and you know keep working and I pay attention to the high for anything like that I just try to keep playing baseball and -- -- I am I really am. Truly having finding. An injury that we've. You're not doing a very good job enough people's radar I'm afraid to pound man -- has compelled to -- okay. And it bit loud up there though most don't Wear them but -- keeping watch for -- great document it's that. The most part to bite depictions of the contrary the Red Sox have actually been among the most aggressive teams. In the majors and certainly the American League east. In terms of relying on very young homegrown players to reinforce their big league roster having throat as many 22 and when he three year old. As any team in the daily over the last five years. Jackie Bradley is probably going to continue that trend however there is one noteworthy exception of the teams typically aggressive approach to development. As much as any Red Sox player in recent years right the barn wiser to wait for his big league opportunity. Offensively he was considered ready for the big leagues by the middle of 2011. But you want to give him more time to refine his skills the catcher in the minors last year in with this offseason somewhat surprising signing of David Ross. He may well end up back in the minors this season so at 25 how does -- -- way handle that reality what are his notes and thoughts on the notion that perhaps more than any Red Sox prospect. In recent years he's quote unquote blocked in his -- to the majors. Here he is to discuss that notion I'm. And -- with an odd sort of question can you please remind me what your area of what your area of study was well you're in college. As the -- -- major media and specifically what kind of philosophy did you study. More broad and then on to my senior year and gradually that I haven't. Really narrowed it down. To the field but I've noted before you love the flood of religion. Action Greek philosophy. Modern philosophy kind of a white ranch. I believe that I had encountered at some point that you -- W it kind of gravitated specifically towards -- towards though is that correct. Those one of the girly things that Germany majoring in philosophy and. Part of the reason why I ask is because. Met with regard as though is Mike I find you know people often say. -- academic disciplines aren't so irrelevant to one professional life fright like liberal arts colleges the degree doesn't really match up and so with what you do afterwards although. With something like dole is -- seems like there might be. Element of it that would be you -- as a as an athlete you know specifically geared. Taught her kind of control what you can control not to worry about other element have you have you balance. You know have you drawn on that grounding -- all or is you know markets are really not exactly at the forefront of your mind as you go through your professional career. Bomb. I don't know -- a I'm stoic -- player but -- there's a plan and aspect of it com. Whether you defiant though they're not of controlling what you can control and and not riding the rollercoaster of the game. Because the game. -- a lot of failure built and special is a position player. And pitcher pitches he had more than not let him for them there's a lot of failure as well -- No more than you can avoid riding high in those markets and hear. Your personality and and your persona. And the way conflict can be. As a catcher than where do you fall into that spectrum of frequent -- and so far as you know you you're connected to the success of a pitcher which. And who should have a much higher percentage of success. Then then the then the hitter which do you do you do you which would items that do you find -- -- that you're more involved in or. Or or the frustration of of quote unquote failures and that are -- you know were hitting 300 is defined. You know complete all three out of every time every ten times at the plate is a very good out. Com a different take a lot of pride and a lot of concern with how the pitchers doing. Down by the end of the day those are his success and on and on helping. Bomb and then offensively. Less important but you still go out there you try to do your best and try to reform. And in those failures are our failures for your -- for the team. -- but again if you try to you try to focus less on the failure on on your senses and hitting -- hitting 300 you you can try to can that are that a win and mom and you know you -- for four but the team wins you feel like you as a catcher that you -- the pitcher threw that game really -- at home is that. And I think part of being a players finding a way to aches and positive out of every game and finding finding that word. Where you might not in on the surface and then keeping a positive outlook and knowing that a player you are going to the next day. In that context in the way in which you view you -- -- -- -- -- you know as a kind of interesting one to contemplate in terms of your performance that are. Because it was it was a year that was different from. You know from the one that you would have previous namely -- been kind of you know 120 home run a year hitter. At every phase of the way last year as has made the transition to being basically an everyday catcher for the first time in your career. The power numbers were down beyond a numbers were elect and the batting average -- -- excellent. During your time in AAA Pawtucket. That they've -- numbers ultimately however work different from your prior minor league trajectory did it feel like it was a different year or didn't do it feel like you. Were able to. Both have him approach and a -- the same approach with just different outcomes than you had in the past. I was definitely definitely different feel calm. So I got my body was it was a different play with backs are catching on Philly area pitch differently. That's -- in the league the year before. Com but again I would like here's -- I caught a hundred and a game which is almost double what had ever -- before. Mom and I you know my my office numbers were up by an army I was elected to the -- -- team. I consider the a compliment from the league. Com and I'm pretty happy with with what happened -- here. At the end of the year you know it it was during your column that with the Red -- you're often performance there that you chuckled at various times. In you really haven't dealt with a lot of a lot of periods of a struggle for. You know more than earlier weaker couple at a time that I've I've seen it well you've been in moving through the miners. What was that challenging or given the fact that you were. That you were getting significant opportunity -- in the major leagues I'm in near every day -- were you able who was was that what you took out of the last couple months. -- for me arm over the past few years the biggest question mark has been on defense. And I think that I can finally put those questions to rest because. I have significant opportunity catch what you said and I feel I did a very good job and and the pitchers are very pleased -- the coaches are very pleased. Com and I have a lot of confidence going to this here with my with my defense and not feel very confident in my hitting as well. Feel like this is going to be a very good year and I can gobble a lot of -- -- Then you know given that you have had that Major League effort to meet at this point. In your in your professional trajectory you you were drafted in 2008 you've moved up the ranks of them all our multiple levels. Do you feel as if you know and do you feel secure quote unquote Major League ready that you're ready for you know that you were. They based on where your player development has taken you that you you kind of took the next challenge really is. You know is approve it you know is proof that what you your performance through the minor league is now ready to turn to mentally. And I feel confident I feel prepared and I feel ready for the test. And give an opportunity. And that is where the final question blazes. Now let me go with the decision maker. That didn't back -- to an interest important part of that is you know it is draws back to that issue you know to be approach of of -- is a more controlling what you can control. It's it's a weird game sometimes where he knows the one thing that I've been struck by recently to bring you can just. Sometimes talent doesn't necessarily dictate opportunity. You know sometimes. Sometimes you need kind of circumstance to a line in order to in order for. You know really great players -- tuchman David Ortiz recently about the fact that while he was with the -- he didn't get the opportunity that. -- To what degree are you kind of mindful of the idea that that the opportunity is something that you -- early control. And I had talked to David about. You -- kind of the same way and catering and all that that he had did get treated her for is our community come around. Well we believe that that we create our own opportunities and and in this in this short option is having given. I feel like if I hit a home run every at bat. You know there be another situation and in -- -- Brooks -- though I were you given no temporary role for an injured player and you know played. So well that. -- -- traded away a multiple time all are so. I've played in my ability opportunities will be given and I recognized this and I'm under about this here. -- that you know given that there's this opportunity figure you're taking the approach of I can create my own opportunity was there are nonetheless any and of you know any sense surprised when I'm I think a lot of us in the media and elsewhere were caught off guard by the -- David -- a great catcher or someone who you know who had a very impressive career but nonetheless you know I think -- We kind of expected that it was going to be. That you might have that opportunity. Entering 2013 and you know with his acquisition. That that clear path didn't that clear path was not nearly as clear it had been. I think that's true barometer of the end time David is David is a great addition to integrate -- territory of the club as well the physical abilities on the field -- I'm happy that it that is on our end and I think a -- from. There is -- last year you know it was it was and because when you had gotten into the grind of catching on in every -- they you know that. Keyboard and I think threats that we're infect looking for. Looking for an opportunity to create an avenue for you but it took probably longer than. Than they had even hoped or perhaps than you had hoped would do to get to a point in Pawtucket. Last year where. You know where it was difficult to maintain. The right attitude you know approach in which you are going to maintain kind of the outlook to continue developing as a player even though you know. You're kind of waiting for the next challenge. There's always an opportunity to learn. And you know Varitek showed me that when he was around -- -- -- with them. And he was asking you might -- -- -- pitchers. So no matter how long it will again no matter how did you get there -- a you have palm there's always has an opportunity to learn and get better. But is that you noted that challenging from ecological importance when. It because you you do hear sometimes guys we're going through you know in their progression in their career progression. Then there are periods where. People feel as if they've proven what they have to prove at a certain level and so it can be it can be difficult to Maine well while that may be true it can be difficult to continue to kind of. To kind of walk the walk. Mental than planned and mental toughness and discipline. That it com. But I think that a few days strong. And you can you believe you can't create your own opportunities. -- hope you -- your path. One thing that people use the term put on -- blocked -- when they talk sometimes about about the -- an opportunity and you know to me I find that term objectionable right because people are the -- baseball players aren't static he should be you know you should be progressing or you should be. You know you should be drawing it or evolving but. Is there ever have you ever experienced a moment in which you said you you've kind of felt blocked or have you been able to exhibit you know. It to maintain the potential to play in order to in order to overcome that. You review our feelings are for offer I can scan known all feel sorry for you you need to. If you if you feel like you're gonna block and need to play better because great players don't -- blocks. And if if you play well enough there will be out for you them. Getting back to the issue of where you are in terms of your performance of baseball player what you're doing on the field rather than. The time rather than the odd or strange or optical wrote I'm taking you down which I apologize. How well what what. Did you focus on the off season what areas of your game did you say -- that this should be an area of my development it. You know or what was it as simple as you know I'd need to get back to finding my power swing or anything anything along those lines. That you were focused on either entering either during the -- and we're entering spring training. The -- and -- worked on the off season was was getting stronger bomb. Night of my body went through a lot of changes last off season where you know I got sick and lost thirty pounds and in the way back and an unhealthy amount and then lost it again to try to and -- -- a healthy. And you know us not that's not healthy progression for -- voted to go through a short period of time up. Calm after the you know all the games that I caught on -- I want to get back to being -- strong as I possibly could and nobody is greater and. How has putting been doing for you how important thing that strikes me for -- is that. You know. One you're behind the played a lot at the heart of the game where you get an opportunity to work quite a bit with with the starters in with you know and with the pitchers were going to be on the Major League roster. In two bit. You know as as you say. As your defense -- when -- known really notice it anymore I mean I realize that you're probably that there are aspects of your game where. That you fully focused on refining and you know things that things that are going to be very difficult to this certain to outsiders people who don't have. You know true and are reaching a listing of catching but. You know. As a work with the pitchers I don't think that it's not as if you're. In it in a good way to meant to be flattering it doesn't. It doesn't garner attention right -- you know when they're at their past often are are on notice that many -- How you felt about. To where you are now having had a couple brings in the number of regular season games to work with. A lot of these pictures -- -- how has that part of it been for you to bring. -- -- -- I have a great relationship with a lot of guys on the -- and and I really enjoy spending time and on and off the field. And -- and we have a great time when we're together in the game on the big thing for me is. Com you know I had to overcome that for action of being about catcher even beyond -- when I was on apart physically so. I feel like -- need to over achieved and done beyond beyond not being noticed. Offer for good or bad or as I wanna get to a point where. I can be I can beyond ending and being noted in com. Remarkable way. In addition to being on -- and. The desirable way us. Right -- -- so much for taking a bit of time to to explain your player development into you know and where you see and where things are. At the age of bring in 2013 really appreciate the time -- thank you. -- the bar and wait and judge Bradley junior or dreading this week's show. We'll be back next Sunday with more as -- talks get ready to start the 2013 season in the meantime if you'd like to offer any show feedback. Our first show ideas or have any questions about Red Sox prospect either hit me on Twitter at -- -- Or send me an email at down on the farm at WEI. Dot com. Think much producer had a day have a great week everybody.

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