Baseball is back, spring training begins
Baseball is back. Spring training has begun.
To get things started, pitcher David Price made his first big-money throws of spring training. He was Boston's prized offseason pick-up. Meanwhile, Diamondbacks ace pitcher Zack Greinke began Day 1 with his new club. He worked on the basics of covering first base.
Pitcher Johnny Cueto showed off some orange-tinted dreadlocks. They could be spotted beneath his off-kilter cap. The orange-tinted hair will fit in perfectly with his new San Francisco Giants colors. Meanwhile, his former team, the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, arrived in Arizona. They got started Feb. 18.
From Arizona to Florida, the sound of baseballs snapping into gloves has returned. Clubs held their first spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers. The workouts signaled the true start of baseball's new year. Fifteen major league teams hold spring training in Arizona. The other 15 go to Florida.
In Arizona's greater Phoenix area, a cooling cloud cover provided a break. The first day was an unseasonably warm 90 degrees.
Now, all those teams that went on offseason spending sprees to improve their pitching are counting on those new players to come through.
Greinke signed a $206.5 million, six-year contract with Arizona. He has already been picked as the Diamondbacks' opening day starting pitcher. Manager Chip Hale called it the easiest choice he has had to make. The D-backs train in Scottsdale.
Price brought his new $217 million, seven-year deal to Red Sox camp. It is in Fort Myers, Florida. Price is a left-handed pitcher. His arrival got similar fanfare.
Pitcher Jeff Samardzija began getting in sync with his new San Francisco catcher, Buster Posey.
After playing catch with pitcher Santiago Casilla, Cueto sat in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium. He was soaking in the scene of his new spring home in Arizona. The former Giants manager Felipe Alou stopped by. Like Cueto, Alou is also from the Dominican Republic. Alou thanked the pitcher for joining the organization.
Are there any nerves for Cueto at this stage? After all, he just won a World Series with the Royals.
"Claro que no." Of course not, he quipped. "Maybe if I were a rookie," he said through translator Erwin Higueros. "I came from pitching in the World Series. I don't get nervous."
He is plenty funny, however. He was told pitcher Madison Bumgarner brought horses to spring training. Cueto cracked, "Maybe he will sell me one. Or maybe he will gift me one."
Manager Bruce Bochy figures Cueto will fit in well with the Giants. The team has won the World Series in even years of late. The Giants won in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
"We've been called misfits. Cockroaches," Bochy said. "This is as solid as I think we've been. And that's saying a lot."
In Tempe, Arizona, the Los Angeles Angels pitchers and catchers reported.
Arrival day for the San Diego Padres pitchers and catchers was decidedly more low key this year than in 2015. Last spring, San Diego had big expectations. It followed a shopping spree by general manager A.J. Preller to add new players.
"Same as every spring training," said outfielder Matt Kemp. He was one of a handful of Padres players who arrived early. "I think everybody has a goal of coming in and making a championship team. Nothing has changed from last year."
In Florida, catcher Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals got going in Jupiter.
Former all-star pitcher Pedro Martinez was busy working as a special assistant on the field with the Red Sox. They train in Fort Myers.
In Sarasota, manager Buck Showalter loved seeing so many of his Baltimore Orioles regulars report ahead of time. That included South Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim. He brought with him a dozen members of the South Korean media.
Asked if he was nervous, he said with a smile, "A lot."
"They enjoy coming here," Showalter said of his players, "I think they enjoy being around each other."