It’s that time of year again; when baseball fans emerge from hibernation and prepare to root for their beloved ball club in hopes of winning a World Series. Pitchers and catchers, for teams all around the league, arrived in their perspective towns from Feb. 12-23 depending on the team. .They were followed by their fellow teammates who were anxious to begin spring training on Feb. 18-28, again depending on the team, when full team workouts began.
In Major League Baseball, spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing team players practice time prior to competitive play. Spring training has always been popular with the fans, drawing crowds who travel to the warmer climates to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play. Spring training also ranges in a time period where many colleges are on spring break.
There are many hot stories all around the league when it comes to spring training because fans are interested in what off season acquisitions were made, such as trades, free agency moves, contract extensions, injuries, and even retirements. Some of the biggest headlines featured players such as Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Clayton Kershaw, and Alex Rodriguez.
Robinson Cano, formerly the second baseman of the New York Yankees, signed with the Seattle Mariners for 10 years and $240 million. Clayton Kershaw, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, signed a contract extension worth $215 million over seven years. Alex Rodriguez finally accepted his one year suspension from Major League Baseball causing him to sit out the entire 2014 season. Derek Jeter, the face of the MLB and the captain of the New York Yankees, has decided that he will retire after the 2014 season.
The point is, teams look different in terms of players than they did last year. This is the most exciting part of Spring Training because fans are anxious to see how their team will fair in the upcoming season.
However, the biggest story out of Spring Training came from Tampa, FL when the iconic Derek Jeter announced we would be retiring after the 2014 season. There was no reasoning behind his announcement other than he felt it was the right time.
In a recent USA Today interview, Derek Jeter stated, “The ankle feels strong. The legs are good. The body feels young. This has nothing to do with the way I feel, I feel great.” What is the real reason for retirement then? Only Jeter knows the answer to that question.
When asked in the same USA Today interview, what do you most want to be remembered as, Jeter said, “You want to be remembered as someone who played hard. The thing that means most to be is that I’ll always be remembered as a Yankee.” “That’s what I always wanted, to be a Yankee.” “The Steinbrenner family gave me the opportunity live my dream.” “Once you’re a Yankee, you’re always a Yankee.” “So being a Yankee is good enough for me.”
As far as local big league clubs, the Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Mets, and New York Yankees all play in the grapefruit league. There are two leagues where the teams are split evenly. They are: the grapefruit league, located in Florida, and the Cactus league, located in Arizona. The Orioles play in Sarasota, FL, the Phillies play in Clearwater, FL, the Pirates play in Bradenton, FL, the Mets play in Port St. Lucie, FL, and the Yankees play in Tampa, FL. Each team will roughly play about a 30 game schedule during their time at Spring Training.