With the Detroit Tigers’ romp over Florida Southern, 12-0, on Tuesday, MLB spring training is officially under way.
Over the next month, MLB’s 30 teams will be split into either the Cactus League or Grapefruit League. Each team will battle it out, attempting to get its players into shape for the beginning of the season.
Although the talent during spring training generally isn’t on par with the talent on display during the regular season, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be some exciting matchups to keep an eye on.
Here are three of the more intriguing meetings during MLB's spring training schedule (Feb. 25-March 30).
Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals
It was only four months ago that these two clubs duked it out for the 2013 World Series.
In recent years, it’s become commonplace to see one or both of these teams battling it out for all the marbles.
In fact, since 2004, the Red Sox and Cardinals have combined for seven World Series appearances, winning five of them. Unfortunately for St. Louis, two of Boston’s three championships came at its expense.
Still, that didn't stop Grantland's Jonah Keri from putting the Cardinals on top in his preseason power rankings:
With no love lost between these clubs, they will meet twice during spring training—once on March 6 and again on March 17.
The stakes may not be as high, but you can bet both sides will be striving to earn bragging rights.
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox
In what is arguably one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports, the Yankees just added more fuel to the fire.
That came when New York signed center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153-million deal back in December.
The issue? Ellsbury spent the last seven seasons with the Red Sox.
You can add the 30-year-old’s name to the likes of Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon and other former Boston stars to swap in their red socks for pinstripes.
But that’s not the only new signing the Yankees will be showing off:
|Marquee Free-Agent Signings for Yankees|
|Name||Former Team||Contract Details|
|Jacoby Ellsbury||Boston Red Sox||7 yrs/$153MM|
|Brian McCann||Atlanta Braves||5 yrs/$85MM|
|Carlos Beltran||St. Louis Cardinals||3 yrs/$45MM|
|Kelly Johnson||Tampa Bay Rays||1 yr/$3MM|
It’s obvious that New York isn’t too pleased with its 85-77 record and third-place finish in the AL East last year. Furthermore, it marked the first time the club had missed the postseason since 2008.
The two rivals will face off twice in the matter of three days on March 18 and 20.
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Although the Diamondbacks held the head-to-head advantage in 2013—10-9—the Dodgers had the last laugh, winning the NL West by a whopping 11 games.
Whether they like it or not, these two clubs won’t waste time getting reacquainted with one another over the next month.
Arizona and Los Angeles are set to play one another in back-to-back days from Feb. 26-27. The two are then scheduled to meet again on March 12.
But if that wasn’t enough familiarity, the Diamondbacks and Dodgers will open the MLB regular season with a two-game set from March 22-23 in Sydney, Australia, at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground.
While teams usually treat their spring training schedule as nothing more than warm ups, for both Arizona and Los Angeles, the three spring meetings will serve as an opportunity to steal momentum heading into their 2014 opening series clash in Sydney.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats are courtesy of ESPN.