February 7, 2013
On the Beat
The song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” has long been a holiday staple. However, baseball fans know the most wonderful time of the year comes in February when pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training camps in Florida and Arizona. Reporting dates come a week early this year because of the World Baseball Classic, so batterymen for all 30 teams will be working out by this time next week.
There will be plenty of stories from places like Viera, Florida, and Surprise, Arizona, to tide fans over until the regular season starts on March 31 when the Astros play their first game as an American League team by hosting the cross-state rival Rangers. With that in mind, here is one baseball writer’s opinion on where the most interesting stories will lie this spring, picking three camps in Florida and three in Arizona:
“If I’m Cash, this is what I do—I tell A-Rod to come to Tampa on the day the full squad reports, hold a press conference, then go away for the rest of the spring and do his rehab at an undisclosed location,” one AL East front-office type said. “Otherwise it’s going to be like Ringling Brothers all spring in that camp. Get it over with and then move on.”
Blue Jays: The quaint town of Dunedin has been an afterthought on the spring circuit for many years. However, the Blue Jays are relevant again after trading with the Marlins for shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle, and right-hander Josh Johnson and with the Mets for reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. The Blue Jays also signed outfielder Melky Cabrera to a two-year, $16-million contract as a free agent. He will have to face the media and explain why he put himself in position to get busted for having elevated levels of testosterone last August, which resulted in a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball.
“This is an interesting dynamic because you’re throwing a lot of guys from different teams together just like the Marlins did last spring, and we saw how that worked out,” said the AL East FOT, referring to Miami finishing last in NL East following a big free agent spending spree in the 2011-12 offseason. “I think things will be different here, though. John Gibbons isn’t a sideshow like Ozzie Guilen. He is a manager who knows how to handle to people. He’ll get his guys on the same page, and he’ll handle the media crush. The Blue Jays hired the right guy to pull this off.”