Professional baseball unofficially begins with the annual spring training camps. The regular baseball season doesn’t officially begin until Opening Day, which typically occurs the first week of April, however before that iconic day there is usually six weeks of training that help determine how the official baseball season will go.
Spring training lasts typically six weeks, from mid-February until Opening Day. The first players to report are pitchers and catchers because pitchers benefit from a longer training period to get their arms warmed up and to get into the groove. They usually get a few days’ jump on the rest of the team before team practice starts.
Major league teams do their spring training in cities other than their home-base. Since 2010, the 30 major league teams split up with half in Florida, the other half in Arizona. The teams that do spring training in Florida are called the “Grapefruit League” teams; the teams that practice in Arizona are called the “Cactus League” teams.
The teams that train in Florida will play their exhibition games against the other teams who are training in Florida regardless of their league affiliations during the regular season. The same goes for the teams that do their training in Arizona.
During this timeframe, the teams are allowed to play against include college teams, minor league baseball clubs, intra-squad games where one of the major league teams splits into two groups and play against each other as if they were two separate teams, and split-squad games where the team gets split in two and only half the players will play that particular game.
Although statistics are recorded during spring games, they are not combined with the regular season game statistics, and any performances that would have broken a record during the regular seasons do not qualify if accomplished during spring training. However, these statistics are often evaluated when teams are looking to assign starting roles and roster spots for the start of the regular season.
Following is a list of the major league teams and where they currently are doing their spring training.
Florida (Grapefruit League)
Atlanta Braves in Orlando, Florida
Cincinnati Reds in 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 of a more casual atmosphere and you are able to see teams play against each other that would not play against each other in the regular season. Players are also more open to meeting the fans and signing autographs. The atmosphere is laid back 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 states who host spring training camps are warm-weather states. Fans love to attend not only because of the laid-back atmosphere where they get to see their favorite players up close; they also get to enjoy the weather and other touristy things to do while they’re there. Be prepared to shell out some cash, though, because these games are not free, and often times parking is chargeable as well.
If you’re a die-hard baseball fan and can’t wait until the regular season, these spring training games and practices are a pretty wonderful way to engage with the great game of baseball.