It was a long, grueling stretch of nearly four months without baseball, but those days are finally behind us.
Wednesday brought about the first batch of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training for their respective teams, and other teams will follow suit until Feb. 22. By the time position players for the Minnesota Twins report on Feb. 27, each team will have its full spring training roster in place.
For now, though, the focus lies primarily on pitchers and catchers as they shake off their offseason rust and try to make a definitive case for their spot on the MLB roster.
Many teams—like the Arizona Diamondbacks—have the front end of their starting rotation locked in but will use spring training performances to determine the rest of their rotation:
#Dbacks Chip Hale says Zack Greinke will start opening day. Rest of order to be determined by match ups the first week.— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) February 17, 2016
It is practically a given that Shelby Miler, acquired in an offseason trade with the Atlanta Braves for a king's ransom, will be the No. 2 pitcher behind Zack Greinke, but the rest of the rotation is anyone's guess at this point.
One of the hottest stories of the offseason has been the future of Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, and it has not subsided with the presence of spring training.
Already an All-Star and one of the best pitchers in baseball at only 23 years old, he is poised to land a ludicrous contract extension. However, Fernandez has been adamant about his focus on the upcoming season and leaving contract discussions to his agent, Scott Boras:
Jose Fernandez telling @AndySlater about the $30 million a year rumor: "that's why I hired Scott Boras. I don't worry about contracts."— Will Manso (@WillManso) February 18, 2016
Of course, there also exists the very distinct possibility that Fernandez will have these contract discussions with another team next offseason.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy is another interesting pitcher to watch during the spring, as he attempts to rebound from the series of injuries that have plagued him since 2013.
Bundy's talent is undeniable, but those injuries have derailed his career ever since he reached the majors as a 19-year-old back in September 2012. Now 23, a healthy season from Bundy could help the Orioles claim the AL East title.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know about the San Francisco Giants' even-year World Series streak. Every even year since 2010, the Giants have won the World Series, and another World Series victory this season would continue that streak.
If they are to do so, however, ace Madison Bumgarner will need to regain his sensational 2014 World Series performance. Whether he'll do so remains to be seen, but for now, Giants fans have to be thrilled with their first Bumgarner sighting of the season:
Perhaps the most notable spring training event thus far concerns not a pitcher, but rather a former catcher. Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs, who is well-known for his monstrous home runs, hit another one during batting practice on Wednesday.
Unfortunately for this poor fan, it came at a hefty price:
Fortunately, Schwarber went on Twitter to help the fan get his car fixed, and he was successful in doing so.
And ...... problem solved! https://t.co/H8kbI4OoyB— Kyle Schwarber (@kschwarb12) February 17, 2016
Even though spring training is but a few days old, there has been no shortage of hot storylines and big events surrounding it.
With additional pitchers and catchers reporting over the next few days, there will surely be more to come.