Spring Training under way as pitchers, catchers report
After what felt like the briefest offseason in recent history, baseball is back. Pitchers and catchers have already begun their first full workouts, with most of them reporting to their teams between Feb. 13 and 16. Position players are now making their ways to spring training as well; teams have set their report dates anywhere between Feb. 16 and 20.
As always, 15 teams — most of whom call the east coast home during the regular season — spread across Florida and partake in the Grapefruit League for their spring training exhibitions. These teams include the Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, Tigers, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Rays, Blue Jays and Nationals. The other 15 settle around the greater Phoenix, Ariz. area and engage in the Cactus League. The Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners and Rangers are among those who start their seasons in the desert.
The first few games of the 2017 spring training schedule feature a select few college teams who get to play in exhibitions against MLB teams. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the spring training campaign begins as the Diamondbacks host Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, Ariz.). Then, on Feb. 23, there are three more college games: Florida Southern College (Lakeland, Fla.) visits the Tigers, the Red Sox host Northeastern University (Boston), and the Phillies play the University of Tampa.
One more college game will take place on Feb. 24 with the Brewers playing the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but full MLB games start that day as well. The Tigers play host to the Orioles, the Mets visit the Red Sox, the Yankees host the Phillies (as is a tradition for their first spring training games of the year), the Reds play the Giants, and the Rays visit the Twins. The rest of the teams open their spring training schedules on Feb. 25.
Spring training games last until April 1, as Opening Day is Sunday, April 2. Three games are slated for Opening Day: the Yankees face their American League East rivals, the Rays, in Tampa at 12:10 p.m. CT; the Giants visit their fellow National League West contender Diamondbacks in Arizona at 3:10 p.m. CT; and the reigning World Series champion Cubs take on the Cardinals and resume their storied rivalry in St. Louis at 7:35 p.m. CT. ESPN will televise all three games, including the Cubs and Cardinals for their annual “Sunday Night Baseball” Opening Night game.
The rest of the teams will open on April 3. One notable match-up is the interleague series between the Pirates and Red Sox, a rematch of baseball’s inaugural World Series in 1903.
Another storyline to watch during spring training will be the fourth installment of the World Baseball Classic, an international baseball tournament that used to coexist with the Olympics before baseball was dropped.