Signs of Spring: Baseball Spring Training
Professional baseball unofficially begins with annual spring training camps. The regular baseball season doesn’t officially start until Opening Day, which usually occurs the first week of April; however, before that iconic day, there are usually six weeks of training that help determine what the official baseball season will look like.
Spring training typically lasts six weeks, from mid-February to opening day. The first players to report are pitchers and catchers because pitchers benefit from a longer training period to warm up their arms and get into a groove. They are usually a few days ahead of the rest of the team before team practice begins.
Major League Baseball teams hold their spring training in cities other than their home base. Since 2010, the 30 Major League teams have been split with half in Florida and the other half in Arizona. The teams that hold spring training in Florida are called “Grapefruit League” teams; teams that practice in Arizona are called “Cactus League” teams.
Teams training in Florida will play their exhibition games against other teams training in Florida regardless of league affiliation during the regular season. The same goes for teams that train in Arizona.
During this time period, teams may play varsity teams, minor league baseball clubs, inter-squad games where one of the major league teams is split into two groups and play each other as if they were two separate teams, and split -Team games where the team is split in two and only half of the players will play that particular game.
Although statistics are recorded during spring games, they are not combined with statistics from regular season games, and any record-breaking performance during regular seasons does not qualify if achieved during spring training. However, these statistics are often evaluated when teams look to assign starting roles and roster spots for the start of the regular season.
Below is a list of Major League Baseball teams and where they are currently holding spring training.
Florida (Grapefruit League)
Atlanta Braves in Orlando, Florida
Cincinnati Reds at Sarasota, Florida
Florida Marlins in Jupiter, Florida
Houston Astros in Kissimmee, Florida
Los Angeles Dodgers in Vero Beach, Florida
New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida
Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Florida
Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Florida
St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Florida
Washington Nationals in Viera, Florida
Arizona (Cactus League)
Arizona Diamondbacks in Tucson, Arizona
Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Arizona
Colorado Rockies in Tucson, Arizona
Milwaukee Brewers in Phoenix, Arizona
San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona
San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, Arizona
Many fans enjoy attending spring training games because it seems to be a bit more casual atmosphere and you get to see teams play each other that they wouldn’t play each other in the regular season. Players are also more open to meeting fans and signing autographs. The atmosphere is relaxed and everyone seems to be able to relax and enjoy themselves during spring training, players and fans alike.
It’s probably no coincidence that both of the states that host spring training camps are warm-weather states. Fans love to attend not only for the relaxed atmosphere where they can see their favorite players up close; they can also enjoy the weather and other touristy things to do while they are there. Be prepared to shell out some cash, though, because these games aren’t free, and parking is often paid for as well.
If you’re a baseball fan and can’t wait until the regular season, these spring training games and practices are a wonderful way to get in on the big game of baseball.