After an arduous winter that hammered much of the country with freezing temperatures and heavy snow, there may be no better words in all of sports than “pitchers and catchers report.”
While that has already happened, there are plenty of notable dates remaining on MLB’s spring training schedule for the 2014 season.
Let’s preview some of them.
Tuesday, Feb. 25: College Day
In what will likely be a thrill for the college players who participate, the Detroit Tigers will host Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla., and the New York Yankees will play Florida State in Tampa.
While the mere fact that professional teams will be scrimmaging college squads is notable, the Yankees taking the field means fans may be treated to a glimpse of Derek Jeter, who will be retiring after the season.
Jeter discussed what it feels like to come to spring training for the final time with Bryan Hoch of MLB.com:
I've always looked forward to getting back on the field. It felt like every first [day of] Spring Training, with the exception of last season. It's good to get back on the field after the whole offseason…Everything is good. Like I told you, I've been working extremely hard to get my strength back. I feel like it's back, I feel strong, so it's not an issue in my mind. I don't think about it.
Outside of Jeter, it will also be interesting to see how Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston fairs against the mighty New York Yankees if he sees the field.
Wednesday, Feb. 26: Cactus League Begins
The Cactus League kicks off with three games on Wednesday.
Among those games is a matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, which is notable because those two teams will kick off the season in Sydney, Australia, on March 22 and 23. It is being called the Opening Series Sydney 2014.
Strangely enough, both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will have more exhibition games after they play in Australia.
Feb. 28: Everyone Gets Involved
All 30 Major League Baseball teams will be in action on Feb. 28 for the first time during spring training.
Fans will get a chance to monitor positional battles across the landscape and see some of the young players who are expected to break through into the league this season. It will also give players who are battling back from injuries an opportunity to test their various ailments in actual game action.
March 5: World Series Rematch
The Fall Classic is months away, but baseball fans will be treated to a rematch of last year’s World Series when the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals square off on March 5.
Obviously, winning a virtually meaningless spring training game wouldn't help the Cardinals overcome the heartbreak of losing in October, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Boston and St. Louis will play on March 17 as well.
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