Mark your calendars. Baseball's return is just around the corner.Major League Baseball released its full Spring Training schedule Thursday, featuring a number of notable firsts and must-see matchups in both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, as well as exhibitions in non-traditional Spring Training venues across North America.• Spring Training:Tickets |
Mark your calendars. Baseball's return is just around the corner.
Major League Baseball released its full Spring Training schedule Thursday, featuring a number of notable firsts and must-see matchups in both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues, as well as exhibitions in non-traditional Spring Training venues across North America.
• Spring Training:Tickets | Schedule
Here's what to watch for:
Spring action will begin Feb. 28, with the Phillies facing the University of Tampa. On Feb. 29, there will be a tripleheader featuring matchups between big league and collegiate clubs.
The Tigers will host Florida Southern College at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., while further south in Fort Myers, the Red Sox will play a twin bill against Northeastern and Boston College at JetBlue Park.
First big league games
Baseball fans can rejoice once the calendar flips to March, as Grapefruit and Cactus League play begins.
In the Grapefruit League, things get started March 1 when the Orioles visit the Braves, the Tigers host the Pirates and the Blue Jays go on the road to play the Phillies.
Meanwhile in Arizona, the Reds face the Indians in the first Cactus League game of 2016.
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward will have to wait for the regular season to play against his former Cardinals club, but in the meantime, here's a look at other player-team reunions on tap in Spring Training:
• Mets fans get their first look at Daniel Murphy in a Nationals uniform when the National League East rivals meet March 3 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla.
• Royals fans can hope to catch a glimpse of Ben Zobrist with the Cubs in a split-squad game March 7 at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. It's worth noting the Royals host the Cubs the following week (March 16).
• Todd Frazier could face his old Reds teammates in a split-squad contest March 26 at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., or when the White Sox travel to Goodyear to face the Reds on March 30 in Chicago's final Cactus League game.
• It's difficult to predict when starting pitchers will toe the rubber in Spring Training. Nevertheless, Red Sox ace David Price could face the Blue Jays as early as March 11. The Dodgers could see old friend Zack Greinke as soon as March 5 when they face the D-backs, the same day Tigers addition Jordan Zimmermann could oppose the Nationals. As for Giants newcomer Johnny Cueto, he could pitch against his former Royals peers as early as March 25.
The Royals and Mets hold Spring Training on opposite ends of the country, but there are still some fun playoff rematches on the way in lieu of a World Series rematch.
• The Yankees will be looking for a different outcome when they host the Astros on March 7 at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., in a rematch of the 2015 American League Wild Card Game.
• The Mets swept the Cubs out of the NL Championship Series in October, but can they manage another series sweep in Las Vegas? The two resurgent franchises will play exhibitions March 31 and April 1 at Cashman Field to conclude their Spring Training schedules.
The Mets-Cubs series in Las Vegas isn't the only Spring Training action taking place in a non-traditional location.
For the first time in 12 years, MLB returns to Mexico City for two split-squad games between the Astros and Padres on March 26-27 at Fray Nano Stadium.
North of the border, the Blue Jays and Red Sox will meet for two games in Montreal's Olympic Stadium on April 1-2.
Meanwhile back in the States, the Reds and Pirates will play in downtown Indianapolis on April 2 at Victory Field, the home of the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate.
Additionally, split squads for the Royals and Rangers will play two games in San Antonio on March 18-19 at the Alamodome.
Nationally televised games
MLB has yet to announce which Spring Training games will be nationally televised. However, ESPN will provide national coverage of seven Opening Day games April 3-4.
**Austin Laymance** is a reporter for MLB.com.