Friday, December 9, 2011

Spring training schedule out

US Presswire file photo
Space Coast Stadium will again house the Nationals next spring.
Here's a little ray of sunshine to brighten your mood at the end of an uneventful week for the Nationals in Dallas: The spring training schedule is out, and it's only 72 days until pitchers and catchers report to Viera, Fla.

The Nationals announced their official reporting dates today: Pitchers and catchers are due on Feb. 19, position players arrive on Feb. 23 and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 25 on the practice fields adjacent to Space Coast Stadium.

This will be the franchise's 10th consecutive spring in Viera, and it could be one of its last. Ownership has made no secret of its desire to relocate to a new spring facility, preferably on Florida's Gulf Coast (perhaps in Arizona, though that appears to be a last-resort threat).

Why the motivation to move? A glance at the upcoming Grapefruit League schedule reveals the answer. Because there are now only three other clubs training on Florida's east coast (the Mets, Cardinals and Marlins), the Nationals will have to make three separate cross-state trips in March. They'll play the Yankees in Tampa on March 16, the Orioles in Sarasota on March 24 and the Red Sox in Fort Myers on April 2.

Despite their desire to move, the Nationals will need to find either a municipality willing to construct a new facility or another organization and facility willing to expand to accommodate a second tenant. The Nationals have held some discussions with Osceola County (outside Orlando) about a new facility to share with the Houston Astros and have also looked at Fort Myers (which will have an open facility once the Red Sox move into a new complex next year).

Members of ownership have also toured facilities in Arizona and have mentioned the Cactus League as a possible alternative if they can't find a suitable location in Florida, but that seems a long shot at best. No major-league franchises east of Cleveland currently train in Arizona.

Principal owner Mark Lerner said in March it's unlikely the Nationals would be able to relocate before 2014.

Here's the full (though tentative) spring training schedule. Dates and times are subject to change...

Feb. 19: Pitchers and catchers report
Feb. 23: Position players report
Feb. 25: First full-squad workout
Mar. 3: vs. Astros in Kissimee, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 4: vs. Astros in Viera, TBA
Mar. 5: vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 6:10 p.m.
Mar. 6: vs. Braves in Lake Buena Vista, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 7: vs. Cardinals in Viera, TBA
Mar. 8: vs. Astros in Viera, TBA
Mar. 9: vs. Marlins in Jupiter, 7:05 p.m.
Mar. 10: (ss) vs. Mets in Viera, TBA; (ss) vs. Tigers in Lakeland, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 11: vs. Cardinals in Jupiter, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 12: vs. Cardinals (ss) in Viera, TBA
Mar. 13: vs. Tigers in Viera, TBA
Mar. 14: vs. Braves in Lake Buena Vista, 6:05 p.m.
Mar. 15: vs. Yankees in Viera, TBA
Mar. 16: vs. Yankees in Tampa, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 17: vs. Marlins (ss) in Viera, TBA
Mar. 18: vs. Tigers in Viera, TBA
Mar. 19: Off
Mar. 20: vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 6:10 p.m.
Mar. 21: vs. Braves in Viera, TBA
Mar. 22: vs. Cardinals in Jupiter, TBA
Mar. 23: vs. Astros in Kissimmee, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 24: vs. Orioles in Sarasota, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 25: vs. Mets in Viera, TBA
Mar. 26: vs. Astros in Viera, TBA
Mar. 27: vs. Marlins in Jupiter, 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 28: vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 1:10 p.m.
Mar. 29: (ss) vs. Braves in Viera, TBA; (ss) vs. Tigers in Lakeland, 6:05 p.m.
Mar. 30: vs. Marlins in Viera, TBA
Mar. 31: vs. Cardinals in Viera, TBA
Apr. 1: vs. Cardinals in Jupiter, 1:05 p.m.
Apr. 2: vs. Red Sox in Fort Myers, 1:35 p.m.
Apr. 3: vs. Red Sox at Nationals Park, TBA


Tcostant said...

Has the the new CBA changed the official report date? In the past it was March 1st, even though teams may have report dates before then, they were unable to do anything (fine) as long as the got there the fist day of March.

Ray said...

I heard last year when I was down there that the Yankees were moving to a new facility by the Orlando Convention Center. If true, the Nats could take over Tampa. Is there any talk of this, Mark?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Ray: I've heard nothing along those lines. There's some talk of the Yankees' Class A team moving from Tampa to Orlando, but that wouldn't affect spring training.

markfd said...

Mark - Any word on the minor league camp start date in Viera?

Another_Sam said...

Thanks, Mark. Any talk of players on the field brightens my day. I've already begun scoping out the spring schedule to plan a tour again this spring. I hope to see you down there.

If the club wants a venue on the other coast, is Al Lang in the mix? The Cardnals and the Orioles shared that park at one time. I've driven south from there to Ft. Myers for a game -- quite a longish and uninteresting drive I recall. But a Tampa or St. Pete venue is right in the high density zone. I can't see the Yankees leaving that park they've got. A nice park; recall that we all saw Livan there last spring.

Again, thank you, Mark. This can't come soon enough for me.

NatsJack, JaneB -- are you in?

Anonymous said...

There is no way the Yankees or anyone else is moving to Orange County, Florida.

Anonymous said...

There is no way the Yankees or anyone else is moving to Orange County, Florida.

NatsJack in Florida said...

There is no way the Yankees or anyone else is moving to Orange County, Florida.

MicheleS said...

Mark are you going to be there the entire time this year? Or just the two weeks like last year?

When's the Nats Insider Game?

Anonymous said...

Hats pull a trade? Saints alive. Adios Mr. Ballester.


Buster Brown said...

I'd stay on the East Caost. The swimming is better. The food is better. The Night Life is better. The West Coast is full of geezers with two steps in the ground who think a gourmet meal is eating at Morrison's Cafeteria or Long John Silver's.

SCNatsFan said...

According to MLB trade rumors Balestar traded to Tigers for Perry

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

By Mark Polishuk [December 9, 2011 at 4:40pm CST]

The Nationals have traded right-hander Collin Balester to the Tigers in exchange for another right-hander, Ryan Perry. The Tigers just announced the move via a team press release.

Balester, 25, has posted a 9.8 K/9 rate over the last two seasons but also has given up a lot of hits (8.4 H/9) and walks (4.0 BB) in that span. Balester is yet another right-hander in a Tigers bullpen that also features Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit, Al Alburquerque and the newly-signed Octavio Dotel.

Perry, who turns 25 in February, was taken by Detroit with the 21st overall pick of the 2008 draft. After two solid seasons in relief in 2009-10, Perry struggled to a 5.35 ERA in 37 innings last season and only recorded 24 strikeouts against 21 walks.

It's obvious what's going on here--the Tigers want longer names in the bullpen.

Steady Eddie said...

Sofa -- So there was a happy meeting of interests, because the Nats were clearly hunting for more Ryans. Now at three and counting.

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

OOh, good point, Eddie.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

FWIW, I would LOVE for the Nats to train in St. Pete at Al Lang Field. Very pleasant memories of the Yankees and original Mets working out there. With respect to Buster Brown @5:48 pm, I much prefer the West Coast. Just returned from three days at St. Pete Beach and I can report the swimming is delightful, geezers at a minimum and string bikinis at a maximum. C'mon, Uncle Teddy, swing a real estate deal in St. Pete for me.

sjm308 said...

Speaking just from a baseball experience. I realize Arizona is a longer trip for those of us here in DC but when I visited Phoenix I was amazed that five different teams were within 20/30 min. of each other. How great is that for getting to see and play against more clubs. Plus, I might be mistaken about this but I believe the weather is much more consistent. I for one am voting for Ariz. and will gladly pass up Viera for the longer flight.

Another_Sam said...

Sunshine -- right on, regarding Al Lang. I'd like to see the club there too. SJM308, as for Florida vs. Arizona, that DC-Orlando air route is one of the most heavily served and competitive routes in the country, and thus very nice for consumers. So I think that Florida has the edge there.

And yes, I agree regarding the greater Tampa area. That Clearwater-St. Pete -- Bradenton -- Sarasota area is IMHO a bit of a step up from the Atlantic coast of Florida in all areas. And there's a high density of clubs there. Of course there's the traffic situation. Hard to see two games in a day if one of 'em is in Clearwater. [Arizona has a distinct edge there.Just IMHO.]

Former Arlingtonian said...

As a former National season ticket holder who now lives fifteen minutes from Space Coast Stadium I'll miss the Nats but I would also understand why they'd leave Viera.

The "Space Coast" area of Brevard County is a good place to live but with the departure of so many other teams from the Atlantic coast of the F-L-A I've already figured I'll have to travel to watch spring training in a couple of years.

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