Batting practice year round from BatBanger.Com
Batting practice year round from BatBanger.Com
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 attracted fan attention, drawing crowds who travel to the warmer climates to enjoy the weather and watch their favorite teams play, and spring training usually coincides with spring break for many college students.
Spring training typically lasts about six weeks, starting in mid February and running until just before the season opening day (and often right at the end of spring training, some teams will play spring training games on the same day other teams have opening day of the season), traditionally the first week of April. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training first because pitchers benefit from a longer training period. A week or two later, the position players arrive and team practice begins. Team members normally wear their batting practice uniforms for the duration of spring training and only wear their normal jerseys on Opening Day.
A Cactus League game between the Cubs and the White Sox at HoHoKam Park. Spring training by major league teams in sites other than their regular season game sites first became popular in the 1890s and by 1910 were in wide use. Early training sites include the St. Louis Cardinals in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma; the New York Yankees in New Orleans and later Phoenix, Arizona, when the team was owned by Del Webb; the Chicago Cubs in Los Angeles when owned by William Wrigley Jr.; the St. Louis Browns and later the Kansas City Athletics in San Diego as well the A's were in West Palm Beach, Florida; the Pittsburgh Pirates in Honolulu and other teams joined in by the early 1940s. The Detroit Tigers are credited with being the first team to conduct spring training camp in Arizona. They trained in Phoenix at Riverside Park at Central Avenue and the Salt River in 1929.
The Philadelphia Phillies were the first of the current major-league teams to train in Florida, when they spent two weeks in Jacksonville, Florida in 1889. Spring training in Florida began in earnest in 1913, when the Chicago Cubs played in Tampa, and the Cleveland Indians in Pensacola. One year later, two other teams moved to Florida for spring training, the real start of the Grapefruit League. And except for a couple of years during World War II, when travel restrictions prevented teams training south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers, Florida has hosted more than half of the spring training teams. All but six of the major league teams have gone to spring training in Florida at one time or another. Many of the most famous players in baseball history (Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Cobb, Mays, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, and many more) have called Florida home for 4-6 weeks every spring.
According to the autobiography of former Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck, avoiding racism was one reason the Cactus League was established. In 1947, Veeck was the owner of the minor league Milwaukee Brewers and the team trained in Ocala, Fla. Veeck inadvertently sat in the segregated section of the stands and engaged in conversation with a couple of Black fans. According to Veeck's book, the local law enforcement told Veeck he could not sit in that section, and then called the Ocala mayor when Veeck argued back. The mayor finally backed down when Veeck threatened to take his team elsewhere for spring training and promised to let the country know why. Veeck's account was the subject of much debate among sportswriters after his autobiography was published, but later investigations proved his story to be mostly accurate.
Veeck sold the Brewers in 1945 and retired to his ranch in Tucson, Az., but Veeck purchased the Cleveland Indians in 1946. He decided to buck tradition and train the Indians in Tucson and convinced the New York Giants to give Phoenix a try. Thus the Cactus League was born. Veeck then signed Larry Doby to the Indians. Doby was the second African-American to play MLB in the 20th century, and the first for the American League.
While Florida and Arizona now host all Major League Baseball teams for spring training, this has not always been the case. The Brooklyn Dodgers trained in Havana, Cuba in 1947 and 1949, and in the Dominican Republic in 1948. The New York Yankees also trained in the early 1950s in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Also spring training camps and games were held in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and cities of northern Mexico, sometimes by visiting major league teams in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Atlanta Braves Spring Training game against the New York Mets in 2008.During World War II, most teams held an abbreviated spring training within easy reach of their cities. In order to conserve rail transport during the war, 1943 Spring Training was limited to an area east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. The Chicago White Sox held camp in French Lick, Indiana; the Washington Senators in College Park, Maryland; and the New York Yankees in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Before and shortly after big league baseball reached the West Coast, a number of teams trained in the state of California or along the state boundary. For example, early in their history, the then-California Angels held spring training in Palm Springs, California from 1961 to 1993, the San Diego Padres in Yuma from 1969 to 1993, the Oakland Athletics in Las Vegas in the 1970s, and various major league teams had trained in Riverside, San Bernardino and El Centro near the Mexican border.
The concept of spring training is not limited to North America; the Japanese professional baseball leagues' teams adopted spring training and preseason game sites across East Asia such as South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan; the Pacific Islands (most notably in Hawaii); and currently 2 North American cities of Salinas, California and Yuma on the Mexican border.
Spring training locations by team
Further information: List of Major League Baseball spring training stadiums
In modern training, teams that train in Florida will play other Florida-training teams in their exhibition games, regardless of regular-season league affiliations. Likewise, Arizona-training teams will play other Arizona teams. These have been nicknamed the Grapefruit League and Cactus League, respectively, after plants typical of the respective states. The teams can play colleges (Atlanta vs. Georgia Tech, Detroit vs. Florida Southern, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Arizona State, or the Boston Red Sox vs. Boston College), minor league baseball clubs, intra-squad games (members of the same team play against each other), split-squad games (games when one team is scheduled for two games in one day, so the team splits into two squads and each squad plays in one of the games), and B Games (unofficial Spring Training games where statistics and standings are not counted). In years when the World Baseball Classic occurs, the national teams in the tournament prepare by playing major league teams.
The Peoria Sports Complex hosts the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners.The newest stadium built for MLB spring training is the $100 million Salt River Fields at Talking Stick spring training complex on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale (Phoenix), Arizona, that hosted its first games on Feb. 26, 2011. The complex is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, and contains a 11,000-seat stadium, separate clubhouses for each team, and 12 full-size practice fields (six for each team.) Both teams previously conducted spring training in Tucson, Arizona, bringing a total of 15 teams to the Cactus League in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
According to the Arizona Republic, the Cactus League generates more than $300 million a year in economic impact to the greater Phoenix metropolitan area economy. The new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick complex is the latest of eight new stadiums built in the Valley of the Sun over the past 20 years. The Arizona Republic newspaper reports that more than $500 million has been spent on “building eight new stadiums and renovating two others for the 15 teams in the Valley.”
Attendance set a new record at 2011 Cactus League games with 1.59 million attending games at the various stadiums in the Phoenix metro area. Much of the attendance surge is attributed to the new Salt Rivers Fields at Talking Stick venue that accounted for 22 percent of the Cactus League attendance.
Grapefruit League (Florida)Spring training Current season or competition:
2012 Major League Baseball season
No. of teams 15
Country(ies) United States
Most recent champion(s) St. Louis Cardinals
Most titles New York Yankees (27)
Grapefruit League (Florida)
Atlanta Braves: Champion Stadium, Lake Buena Vista at Walt Disney World
Boston Red Sox: JetBlue Park, Fort Myers
Baltimore Orioles: Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota
Detroit Tigers: Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland
Houston Astros: Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee
Miami Marlins: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Minnesota Twins: Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers
New York Mets: Digital Domain Park, Port St. Lucie
New York Yankees: George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa
Philadelphia Phillies: Bright House Field, Clearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates: McKechnie Field, Bradenton
St. Louis Cardinals: Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter
Tampa Bay Rays: Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte
Toronto Blue Jays: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin
Washington Nationals: Space Coast Stadium, Viera
 Cactus League (Arizona)Spring training Current season or competition:
2012 Major League Baseball season
No. of teams 15
Country(ies) United States
Most recent champion(s) Texas Rangers
Most titles Oakland Athletics (9)
Cactus League (Arizona)
Arizona Diamondbacks: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Chicago Cubs: HoHoKam Park, Mesa
Chicago White Sox: Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Cincinnati Reds: Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear
Cleveland Indians: Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear
Colorado Rockies: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Kansas City Royals: Surprise Stadium, Surprise
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe
Los Angeles Dodgers: Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Milwaukee Brewers: Maryvale Baseball Park, Phoenix
Oakland Athletics: Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix
San Diego Padres: Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
San Francisco Giants: Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale
Seattle Mariners: Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
Texas Rangers: Surprise Stadium, Surprise
Statistics are recorded during spring training games, but they are not combined with the listed statistics for regular season games, and unusual performances which would have broken records if accomplished during the regular season are considered to be unofficial.
For example, on March 14, 2000, the Red Sox used 6 pitchers to achieve a 5–0 perfect game victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. A perfect game is considered a crowning accomplishment during the regular season or postseason, but in spring training it attracted little notice. Starting pitcher Pedro Martínez, who lost a perfect game in 1995 while pitching for the former Montreal Expos, was talking to reporters at the conclusion of the game, rather than watching the final pitches. Reliever Rod Beck, who finished the game, did not realize the nature of his accomplishment until informed by catcher Joe Sidall. Many fans also left before the game's conclusion.
Although spring training statistics are unofficial, teams still frequently use players' spring training performances as a way of assigning starting roles and roster spots on the club.
Extended spring training
An extended spring training game between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota, Florida during the 2008 season. Minor league players participate in spring training following a telescoped schedule that generally lasts from March 1–31. At its conclusion, most players are assigned to full-season Class A, AA or AAA farm team rosters to begin the regular minor league season. However, those players deemed unready for a full-season campaign — through inexperience or injury — are assigned to "extended spring training," a structured program of workouts, rehabilitation sessions, simulated games and exhibition games based in the major league parent team's minor league training complex. If a player is deemed ready to participate in full-season league action, he is promoted to an appropriate-level farm club. When the "short season" Class A and rookie leagues begin play in late June, extended spring training players are assigned to those rosters, placed on the disabled list, or released.
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