Logan Webb, ace of the Giants pitching staff | Craig Harris

And the 3-2 pitch. Swung on and hit deep to left center field. Back … back … this ball is gone.

After a short lockout, baseball is back. The owners and players locked horns in a 99-day dispute that for the time being seems to be resolved.

Some of the changes include a full-time designated hitter in the National League. Expanded playoffs with 12 teams, six in each league, making the field. Also, included is a bump in the minimum salary from the $570,000 mark in 2021 to $780,000.

The lockout also referred to as a CBA (collective bargaining agreement) has ended.

So, on March 18, after a roughly three-week delay, the first spring training games began. I was in Peoria, Arizona, to view the Padres and Mariners. Both teams share this magical stadium located one-half hour from Phoenix.

I’ve been attending spring training since 2002. My Team, the San Francisco Giants, are located in Scottsdale. I prefer Peoria because it’s fan friendly. The players are accessible and fairly easy to talk with.

Autographs are also a big part of the experience of spring training. I was able to get most of the Padres players to sign a wooden glove I had carved in Bali years ago. Most fans have players sign a baseball, cards, or photos.

Arizona spring training, also known as the Cactus League, houses 15 teams. The other 15 teams are located in Florida, known as the Grapefruit League.

Of Arizona’s 10 ballparks, some are shared between two teams, and all are within an hour of each other. This year the Cactus League celebrates its 75th anniversary. Founded in 1947 by Bill Veck, who at the time was owner of the Cleveland Indians, now known as the Guardians. In 2018 the Cactus League had a record 1,941,347 fans in attendance.

Diablo Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels, is the oldest and smallest spring training facility. Its seating capacity is 9,600 fans. Located in Tempe, Arizona, it originally opened in 1968.

Many of the older stadiums have been rebuilt. Stadium capacity ranges from 10,000-14,000 fans. The seating is set up close to the field giving the fan an awesome view of play.

I spend most of my time looking closely at the rookies and evaluating their skills. Most teams play their call-ups or rookies the first week or two. As it gets closer to the regular season, this year April 7, most of the regulars are playing.

For a baseball fan, spring training is a special time — evaluating your team and searching for answers as to how they can improve. After all, a lot is at stake. The bragging rights coming off of a World Series Championship is not taken lightly. And with that said, Play ball!


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