The Baltimore Oriles begin Florida Grapefruit League play tomorrow. Let that sink in for just a moment! The Birds will travel to Lakeland, FL to the spring training home of the Detroit Tigers to open up their spring training slate at 1 PM tomorrow. On Saturday they’ll head to Bradenton for a game against Pittsburgh, and they’ll round out the first weekend with their home opener in Sarasota against Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.
So if you’re heading down to the Gulf Coast this year to catch a game or two, what exactly can you expect in terms of the games? First off, be forewarned that spring training games aren’t unlike their NFL counterparts (preseason) in that there’s very little ebb and flow. For a guy such as myself who loves to strategize and figure out what’s going to happen next, that makes it tough!
The games are just what we would think: “training.” Especially in the first two weeks or so, some games might be pretty rough. Remember that pitchers and catchers are going to be be a week or so ahead of hitters. So the likes of Jones, Davis, Machado, etc. may well pile up a few strikeouts here and there before the ball starts bouncing off their bats.
But that’s why they play these games, so as for players to get ready for the season. They help players to get their timing back, as opposed to doing it in the regular season. And for that, fans should be thankful!
In these early spring games, you can expect the starting team to play between 4-6 innings in each game. In some instances they’ll get guys two at-bats and then get them out of the game. Pitchers of course will be on innings limits or pitch counts, regardless of how well they pitch.
It’s rare to see managers going to the mound in the middle of an innin so as to make a pitching change, because usually it’s pretermined that the starter will go two innings, then someone else will go one, another guy will go two, etc. It’s not unheard of however to see a starter leave the game only to go down to the bullpen and complete his workday by throwing 30-40 pitches down there – while the game is going on.
At the end of the day, it’s sunny, the weather’s beautiful, it’s Florida, and it’s baseball. Fans can’t ask for much more I suppose. These Grapefruit League games are a far cry from the drama of a pennant race, but needless to say they’re something!