Spring training recap


Keith Allison | Wikimedia Commons

Jeremy Dobin

Spring Training is off and running with MLB Opening Day approaching. The 162-game campaign will begin on March 30. The annual pre-season Spring Training takes place in Florida and Arizona, with teams playing in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues respectively.

Spring Training is a good time for MLB teams to assess their lineups, projected starting pitching rotations and promising rookies.

The exhibition games, and smaller ballparks where games are played, contribute to the relaxed, fan-friendly atmosphere of Spring Training. Players engage with fans as they sign autographs and other paraphernalia, while fans develop fandom for new players and get excited about their squads heading into the season. Spring Training traditions are part of what makes MLB one of the best sports leagues in America.

There are many fascinating storylines to follow during this year’s Spring Training. Notably, MLB introduced a pitch clock. The creation of the pitch clock is an attempt to speed up the game, increase batting averages and reduce stolen bases.

Pitchers now have 15 seconds to pitch the ball when the bases are empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. If the pitch is not thrown before the clock runs out, a ball gets added to the batter’s count. If the batter is not standing in the batter’s box by the eight-second mark, the batter is charged with a strike in the batter’s count.

As a result of the new pitch clock, teams will move towards PitchCom. PitchCom is a device that enables catchers to transmit the pitch selection to the pitcher on the mound without using hand signals as signs. The quickness and efficiency of PitchCom will help pitchers adjust to new routines that do not encroach upon the time limit of the new pitch clock.

On Opening Day, fans will see familiar faces in new places. There were multiple massive contracts signed and big trade splashes during the winter as front offices worked to bolster their rosters. Big names such as Trae Turner and Xander Bogaerts both signed 11-year contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars, with Turner landing in Philadelphia as a member of the Phillies and Bogaerts heading to sunny California to suit up for the San Diego Padres.

Star pitchers Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander altered the pitching landscape as deGrom left the Big Apple in the rear-view mirror and headed down to Texas to play for the Rangers. Verlander left the reigning champions Houston Astros to play where deGrom left: The New York Mets. Both deGrom and Verlander will be looking to continue their Hall-of-Fame worthy playing careers for their new teams.

Perhaps the biggest contract splash of all kept a player in the same town to continue playing for the same team. That is New York Yankees superstar slugger, outfielder and now team captain Aaron Judge.

Judge is coming off a historic season in which he recorded a whopping 62 homeruns. Judge’s 62 dingers marked the most ever hit during the regular season among American League teams. Judge’s remarkable season earned him the Most Valuable Player award for the American League.

With the offseason done and Spring Training in full swing, America’s pastime is officially on deck.