Spring Training is here. Finally. Today, we can utter four beautiful words: Pitchers and catchers report.
While Major League players have been descending upon Arizona and Florida for a while, camps are now set to officially open. Green grass, blue sky, a bright sun and real live games are right around the corner.
Here are some key questions and answers about 2021 Spring Training.
When do pitchers and catchers report?
Wednesday was the official start of 2021 Spring Training presented by Camping World. Between Arizona and Florida, 15 of the 30 MLB teams held their first official workouts, with pitchers and catchers. Thirteen more clubs got underway on Thursday, with the final two (Mets and Twins) getting started on Friday.
When do full-squad workouts begin?
Position players will not be far behind pitchers and catchers. Full-squad workouts will begin for 21 teams on Monday, with the other nine following the next day.
When do Spring Training games start?
MLB recently announced a revised Spring Training game schedule, taking into account the health and safety protocols it agreed to with the MLB Players Association in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Cactus League teams in Arizona now will play 28 games over 30 days, while Grapefruit League teams in Florida will play either 24 or 28 games in that span.
The action will begin on Feb. 28, when 28 of the 30 teams are slated to take the field. The other two teams, the Cubs and Mets, will play their first games a day later.
How will the spring schedule change this year?
The Cactus League will operate as usual in 2021, with each club playing two games apiece against each of the other 14 (not counting some additional exhibition games held in Major League ballparks, beginning on March 28).
However, the Grapefruit League will be a bit different, because camps in Florida are more spread out geographically. To limit travel, those teams will be split up into groups. Clubs located on the state’s east coast (Astros, Marlins, Mets, Cardinals and Nationals) will play 24 games, only amongst themselves. Those on the west coast will be divided into two main groups that both will play 28 games -- one featuring the Blue Jays, Phillies, Tigers and Yankees, and the other featuring the Braves, Rays, Red Sox and Twins. Those groups will not play each other; however, the Orioles and Pirates will split their time between the two.
Will fans be allowed at games?
Yes. Teams in both Arizona and Florida are selling a select number of tickets for Spring Training games. Various COVID-19 protocols will be in place, including limited capacity, pod-style seating systems and strict rules regarding masks and social distancing. See each team’s official website for more details regarding specific policies, and to purchase tickets.
How long will Spring Training games be this year?
Per the 2021 Operations Manual, games from the start of Spring Training through March 13 will be scheduled as seven-inning games, though they can be shortened to five innings or lengthened to nine innings upon mutual agreement of both managers. From March 14 until the end of camp, games will be scheduled for nine innings, though managers can mutually decide to shorten to seven innings. Clubs must notify MLB of any game length modifications by 5 p.m. ET the day before the game.
Can I watch Spring Training games on MLB.TV?
Yes. Select Spring Training games will be available on MLB.TV.
Check back here for more details as broadcast schedules are finalized leading up to the start of Cactus and Grapefruit League play.
Who are some of the key faces in new places?
A number of the offseason’s top free agents did re-sign with their 2020 teams, including J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius (Phillies), DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), Marcell Ozuna (Braves), Justin Turner (Dodgers), Michael Brantley (Astros), Nelson Cruz (Twins) and Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals).
With that said, Spring Training will also give fans their first opportunity to see some stars take the field in new uniforms. Many of the winter’s biggest transactions were trades, with the Mets landing Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco; the Padres loading up their rotation with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove; and the Cardinals snagging Nolan Arenado. And don’t forget about Lance Lynn (White Sox), Jameson Taillon (Yankees), Josh Bell (Nationals) and Andrew Benintendi (Royals), among others.
Then there are the free agents who did depart for new homes. Spring will get underway with reigning National League Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer in Dodger Blue with the defending World Series champions. George Springer and Marcus Semien are Blue Jays, Andrelton Simmons is a Twin, Kyle Schwarber is a Nat and Liam Hendriks is with the White Sox, to name only a handful.
So let’s get started.