What Is MLB Spring Training? Get Ready for MLB Official Season

John Means

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MLB Spring Training

It is not a one-day job to build up pro skills in Baseball. Players we see in the MLB tournaments have hard work and practice for years to get there. 

Years go round and baseball fans eagerly wait for the official MLB baseball season. It is also the time when spring training begins and players jump into to hone their skillset in the exhibition matches. 

Since MLB baseball tournaments start at the end of winter, every spring veteran baseball teams gather around Florida and Arizona for practice. We name it Spring Training.

It is not as simple as you may think. To help you understand in detail, we are about to write down today’s article on MLB Spring Training. 

Hop in to learn what is MLB Spring training and how it works.  

What is MLB Spring Training? 

We have heard about the MLB postseason. But we are talking about the MLB preseason here. MLB Spring Training is considered the biggest preseason of MLB. 

During Spring Training, 30 MLB Teams take part in the Spring Training and one month-long exhibition games take place. 

The 30 MLB teams participating in the spring training are divided into two preseason leagues – Grapefruit and Cactus. They play against each other and prepare for the upcoming MLB season.   

Grapefruit League: 

In the Spring Training, one of the leagues goes to Florida for training. Florida teams are the Grapefruit League. 
They gather in Florida in the middle of February and take almost one and a half months to prepare for the upcoming season. 

The Grapefruit League was first formed in Mississippi. But later moved to Florida. The decision was made because the Tampa Mayor offered $100 per player to play the exhibition game in Florida. 

Ever since 1915, the Grapefruit League remained in Floria to this day. 

Not all of them from here will go to the MLB season. At the end of March, all of them spread out across the country to participate in the regular seasons – either in MLB seasons or the minor leagues. 

The 15 teams who play in the Grapefruit League are: 

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Houston Astros
  • Miami Marlins
  • Minnesota Twins
  • New York Mets
  • New York Yankees
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Washington Nationals

Nobody knows why the name is Grapefruit. But one of the theories goes by, an aviation stunt was the reason why we named it the Grapefruit League. It happened in Daytona Beach in 1915, over a century ago. 

When the pilot Ruth Law had a Brooklyn Dodgers player in a plane throw a baseball to the manager, Wilbert Robinson who was below in the field. Instead of the baseball, a grapefruit was thrown from the sky.
Ever since then in remembrance of this incident, the name grapefruit was given. 

Now, let’s take a peek into the Cactus League. 

Cactus League

Cactus League

Source: latimes.com

Another league of baseball in the MLB Spring Training is the Cactus League. They have a venue in Maricopa County, Arizona; a city of culture and heritage. 

The league originated in 1947 by Bill Veeck when the Cleveland Indians had their Spring Training in Arizona for the first time. 

Bill Veeck wanted to build a powerful competitor against the Grapefruit League. Other teams soon followed which led to the formation of the Cactus League.   

Every year teams of the Cactus League visit the Greater Phoenix area around February and March. Fans once again hear the sound of hitting bats and snapping mitts. 

It is a one-month-long program; a few days can add or subtract. The 2023 Cactus League season started on February 24 and ended on March 28. 

Over 200 games take place during the Spring Training of the Cactus League with fifteen major league teams. Teams that participate in Cactus League are: 

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Cleveland Guardians
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Oakland A’s
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Texas Rangers

Among the different baseball stadiums and training complexes across the Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Arizona, the Cactus League Spring Training takes place at nine of the following stadiums: 

1) Goodyear Ballpark

2) Surprise Stadium 

3) Camelback Ranch 

4) Peoria Sports Complex 

5) American Family Fields of Phoenix

6) Tempe Diablo Stadium

7) Scottsdale Stadium 

8) Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

9) and Hohokam Stadium

Why the name Cactus? 

Arizona is home to various species of cacti, which are prominent in the region’s desert landscape. Thus, the name Cactus League was selected for Spring Training Leagues. 

The term “Cactus League” earned popularity as a comprehensive way to refer collectively to the MLB teams’ training in Arizona.

Here goes the formation of MLB Spring Training. The next part describes the purpose of the MLB Spring Training. 

The Purpose of MLB Spring Training 

MLB Spring Training 

Source: sportingnews.com

Similar to other preseasons like the NLF, the MLB Spring Training serves the same purpose also – to develop and nurture a bond between teammates and prepare themselves for the upcoming MLB seasons. 

Here are what we have learned so far about the purpose of Spring Training: 

  • Spring Training allows the players to improve their strength and endurance. 
  • Players develop a bond to play effectively in the official MLB Season. 
  • Players can also hone their baseball skill which has gone rusty during the offseasons. 
  • Spring training prepares the players for the upcoming season and also sets the right mood. 
  • This training session also allows new players to try out their compatibility with the team. 
  • Initially, Spring Training started as pure training camps to get players into shape. 
  • Both pitchers and catchers have a longer period to practice because they need more time to train. 
  • Through Spring Training, team managers also have the scope to evaluate players and find out how they are fit for the upcoming season.  
  • It also offers a comparison ratio between younger players and current players to figure out their competency with each other.  
  • Spring training also works as a transitional period for players who have changed teams or for rookies making their debut. 
  • People all around the country travel to Arizona and Florida to enjoy their favorite teams play; contributing largely to the economic boost. 

The MLB Spring Training is a crucial period of baseball. Players can prepare themselves and also refine their skills. They can overcome their inertia to give their best once the season starts. 

Also, managers get the opportunity to take the overview and fix the lineup for the season. And when it comes to baseball fans, they are excited to get a taste of the official MLB season before time. 

History of MLB Spring Training

Missing out on something? Before we dive any deeper, let’s take you back to the date where it all started from. 

Believe it or not, Spring Training is as old as the sport of baseball itself. There is no specific date that can trace back to the date of origin. But some believe that the first MLB Spring Training started in 1870. 

In 1870, the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings organized the first spring camps in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Other theories state that MLB Spring Training started back in 1886. It started when players from colder climates went to practice in the warmer areas to prepare physically for the upcoming season. 

Gradually, more teams joined in for practice. And thus, the leagues were formed for yearly exhibition games. 

Many historians still believe that Spring Training began in 1888 when the Washington Capitals had the MLB spring training. They held the Spring Camp in Jacksonville, Florida. 

However, at this point of fame and popularity, it doesn’t matter what the actual time of origin was.
Today, MLB Spring Training has turned into a well-established culture. People across the nation wait eagerly to be a part of this training and enjoy it to the fullest. 

How Many Innings Are There in MLB Spring Training Games? 

The Spring Training games replicate the actual events that take place in the official MLB season.
At the beginning of 2023, both Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues gave a direction for this year’s MLB Spring Training with all the recent changes including – Pitch Clock, Shift Restriction, and Bigger Bases. 

There are in total nine winnings; with Spring Training lasting about two months- starting in Mid-February and ending right before the opening ceremony of the regular MLB season. 

Are there extra innings in MLB spring training?

Unfortunately, unlike the regular MLB seasons, there are no extra innings in Spring Training.

Ties may not be regular in MLB official plays. But in Spring Training,  if no winner is determined at the end of nine innings, the game ends in a tie. 

However, exceptions are considerable. In the last spring training between Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the Pirates officially won the game.

Nonetheless, the game continued till the end of the ninth inning to pursue their practice in the field. During this time, they were no umpire. 

How Many Exhibition Games Are Played in Spring Training? 

It is a one-month-long program. Every week both teams play between four to six exhibition games; in total sixteen to thirty-six exhibition plays during spring training. 

It may seem like a tight schedule and to your surprise, it is indeed so. However, if you are thinking about how players can cope with it, no need to overthink.
The spring training team’s lineup is often rearranged. It is ensured that players don’t overwork and drain all their energy. 

Besides, teams can also practice during the off days for the spring training. Although Spring Training itself is a practice to hone the skills of players, they are welcome to regular practice.  

How Important Spring Training Is? 

Here at this stage of the article, you know a lot about MLB Spring Training and its purpose. 

But how important spring training is? And does it really help our players grow the strength and potential for the field?
Of everything we know, MLB Spring Training is not directly related to the player or the team’s stat. But it doesn’t mean that Spring Training is less compatible. 

Spring Training mainly promotes powerful preseason practice which is essential for individual teams.
You will be mistaken if you think, the success of Spring Season somehow influences the result of official MLB seasons.  

But Spring Training, therefore, is important to maintain the fitness of the players and put the team in formation for the upcoming MLB seasons. 

There have been records of teams who have been outstanding in the Spring Training and then they won the World Series.
Let’s recall the Yankees in the 2009 World Series and Red Sox from the 2018 World Series. Be it Spring Training or the World Series, remember that there is no alternative to practice and hardworking. 

MLB Spring Training 2023

This year, the 2023 Spring Training officially started on Friday, February 24, 2023. 

The preseason started with a couple of Cactus League Teams – the Seattle Mariners vs San Diego Padres and the Texas Rangers vs Kansas City Royals. 

One day later on February 25, all 30 Major League Clubs started playing including the Grapefruit League.

Finally, the Cardinals ended up in the Grapefruit and won against the Baltimore Orioles with an 8-2 victory. 

MLB Spring Training in Summary

Preparation is mandatory before any battle. When it comes to baseball, Spring Training is the preparation period for the players, teams, and anyone related to the match. 

Not directly related to the count? Why would it even matter when it offers you the opportunity to get out of the dullness of the off-season and get ready for the real game?  

Spring Training has earned its popularity all over the country. People buy travel from one city to gather around Florida and Arizona during this time of the year to celebrate their favorite teams together. 

Thus, it’s not limited to the improvement of players’ overall stats only. But it also draws the attention of baseball lovers to one single place and gives a boost to the baseball franchise. 

Photo of author

John Means

John Means is a professional baseball player who has played in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics. He made his major league debut with the Royals in 2009. He was traded to the Athletics in 2012. Baseball is his favorite sport. His passion about the game is evident in his play. Now he write blogs about baseball and other things whenever he has some free time. LinkedIn

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