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Jeff Conine does more than stealing towels

He remembers the first spring training in Marlins history.

This is the 17th spring training for the Marlins, who started in 1993. Former player Jeff Conine, ''Mr. Marlin,'' is about the only one still around who remembers that very first spring training, which was held in Cocoa.

''That first one was an adventure, to say the least,'' said Conine, who is now working in the Marlins' front office. ``Our stadium wasn't ready, so we practiced in Viera -- but we had our games in Cocoa. Our clubhouse wasn't done. Nobody knew each other. It was a mess, crazy.''

Ah, the good old days.  Okay, they weren't that good but they were memorable.  Naturally spring training has changed since then.  In other words, the Marlins staff isn't making it up as they go along.

But it is always fun to relieve a blast from the past.