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Arizona spring training games scheduled to begin March 17
Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly and manager Torey Lovullo shared a hug, a grin and a few slaps on the back under the bright blue sky that the Cactus League is known for providing.
The bickering is over. Baseball is back.
A day after owners and players reached agreement to end a 99-day lockout, all 30 spring training camps opened across Arizona and Florida. Now the four-week sprint begins in earnest to get ready for an April 7 opening day.
“We've been waiting for this for a while,” D-backs infielder Josh Rojas said before Friday's workout. “It's good we got everything done. I did my best to stay ready for this day, whenever it came. It happened fast.”
Cleveland ace Shane Bieber limbered up in Guardians gear, Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. began taking grounders and new St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol signed autographs as spring training for major leaguers finally began.
At the complex in Goodyear that Cleveland shares with the Cincinnati Reds, some big names got loose.
Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner, and All-Star third baseman José Ramírez were among the players sporting Guardians garb who went through light workouts following check-in physicals. The team formally changed its name from Indians following last season.
Bo Bichette and José Berríos were among those joining Guerrero in getting busy at the Blue Jays' camp in Dunedin, Florida. Sunday is the mandatory reporting date for players, but many were eager to get to to work early.
Rojas was among a large contingent of Diamondbacks players who reported to camp in Scottsdale. Like many players, he had been attending informal workouts at various fields in Arizona while labor talks intensified. The union had even set up a makeshift base in Mesa, Arizona, at a multi-purpose sports facility, but that was starting to clear out on Friday as players reported to their regular camps.
“We did a really good job staying ready,” Rojas said. “There were lots of places where 15, 20, 30 guys were meeting up, running our own practices. Groundballs, live bullpens, live at-bats, hitting on the field.”
Major League Baseball released the spring training schedule, with games set to begin on March 17 and last through April 5. For the first game, the Colorado Rockies will host the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
The lockout left cities throughout the Valley in limbo, not knowing if there would even be spring training this month.
Bridget Binsbacher is the Cactus League’s executive director. She says the host facilities were poised to move quickly.
“Staffing ... I think it’s challenging everywhere,” Binsbacher said. “But the facilities, I think have had seasonal and part-time folks on staff and ready to go, so they’re planning to be ready.”