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#BaseballBegins signals clean slate for all

Fresh start around the corner when it's time for pitchers and catchers to report
MLB.com

"Pitchers and catchers report" are four of the most beautiful words in the English language. As another Spring Training officially gets underway on Wednesday in Florida and Arizona, we are asking people around Major League Baseball what those four words mean to them. Feel free to add your own response in the comments and tweet with the #BaseballBegins hashtag.

Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel:

"Pitchers and catchers report" are four of the most beautiful words in the English language. As another Spring Training officially gets underway on Wednesday in Florida and Arizona, we are asking people around Major League Baseball what those four words mean to them. Feel free to add your own response in the comments and tweet with the #BaseballBegins hashtag.

Video: Outlook: Veteran Hammel could excel in return to Cubs Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel:

"Reporting to Cubs camp in Mesa (Ariz.) means it's time to start the grind of a big league season. You feel the excitement, because everyone starts 0-0 with big expectations. It's another opportunity to set and reach new goals."

Eli Marrero, MLB catcher/outfielder from 1997-2006, with his first seven seasons spent with the Cardinals; now manager of the Reds' Class A Advanced Daytona Beach affiliate:

"I get together after the Super Bowl with a lot of my friends I played with in high school or professionally, and one of my buddies throws a Super Bowl party. As soon as the game ended, one of the guys' wives said, 'I'm glad the Super Bowl is over, because now pitchers and catchers report.' That's what I immediately thought of when I was asked this question. I understand what she meant.

"When I went to my first Spring Training with the Cardinals, it was at old Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla., and then the next year we moved to Jupiter. For me, it was an honor. On January 1, on January 15, you start getting that feeling -- anxious to get back to big league camp, to see all the guys. I really enjoyed it -- the whole atmosphere, being around the guys.

Eli Marrero, Cardinals catcher/outfielder from 1997-2003

"To me, it felt like something clean. I don't mean like clean your shoes or your floor. The whole atmosphere is clean. Anything that went wrong for you last year -- maybe you had a tough year, or your team had a tough run at the end and you didn't get as far as you wanted to -- you come in with such expectations; it's a clean feeling. You see that when you walk in. You see your locker, you check your bats and your shoes and you just kind of sit there for five minutes and you take it all in. It's like a clean atmosphere. No matter what happened before, everything starts fresh for me now. As far as making the playoffs and winning the World Series, it all starts right now.

"I loved the 1 o'clock games at Spring Training. Some don't, but I did. The sun high in the sky -- day-in and day-out, it was just a joy. I loved waking up in the morning and going to camp. I mean, you do that at home when you've got to work out. But it's something different when you get to the field, you have your schedule put up to follow. That high expectation really motivates you.

"Now I'm headed to the Reds' camp, my third year of managing for them. To be honest, most everybody's goal in managing obviously is to be in the big leagues. But for me, it's not such a burning desire that I have to be up there every year, not something spectacular. I really do enjoy working with the guys in the Minor Leagues. Most of the guys in the Minors, you work with them and don't expect anything in return. When they move on and get to the big leagues, you kind of stay behind, and hopefully you'll get a thank you along the way. Now we're ready to go again."

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.