The lure of watching baseball in the sun draws many Pacific Northwesterners to Arizona and spring training this time of year. I’m often asked for “spring training tips,” and aside from my secret rental car life hack, this is what tell people: make sure you watch some of a minor league game.
Minor league spring training games are going on all over Arizona, usually on fields just a short walk from the Cactus League ballparks which are scattered all over the valley.
And they are all free.
Now for your free entry you won’t get much: a seat on an aluminum bleacher, possibly with a roof to shade you. There are no concession stands, so bring your own beverages, snacks, and sunscreen.
Most of your fellow fans will be player’s family members, scouts, front office personnel, and minor league pitchers who aren’t scheduled to throw that day.
You can catch an early preview of the Rainiers. Right now about 75% of the players who will begin the season in Tacoma are in major league camp, but that will change over the course of March as the Mariners gradually cut down their roster.
Oh yeah, one important thing. You can’t tell the players without a program, and nobody is selling programs, so make sure you stop by the lobby of the Mariners office and ask for a free minor league roster. It’s the second thing I do after getting to Arizona each year (longtime readers know the first thing I do is not baseball related).
Minor league games start in mid-March. You just walk into the group of fields – four fields adjacent to one another – and ask somebody which field the Triple-A game is on. Here is the Rainiers schedule – games usually start at 1:00.
March 18: Kansas City (Peoria).
March 19: at Chicago White Sox (Glendale).
March 20: at Texas (Surprise).
March 21: San Diego (Peoria).
March 22: at Kansas City (Surprise).
March 23: Texas (Peoria).
March 24: Kansas City (Peoria).
March 25: at Texas (Surprise).
March 26: Camp day.
March 27: Kansas City (Peoria).
March 28: at Texas (Surprise).
March 29: San Diego (Peoria).
March 30: at Los Angeles Dodgers (Glendale).
March 31: Milwaukee (Peoria).
April 1: at San Diego (Peoria).
- The first Cactus League game is on Saturday! The Mariners face the Padres, and Ariel Miranda will be the starting pitcher for Seattle.
- Andrew Moore is one of the Mariners top pitching prospects, Bob Dutton writes. It sounds like he’s going to open the season at Double-A Arkansas.
- Larry Stone has a look at first baseman Dan Vogelbach, who has the best opportunity of his career right now.
- Seattle is moving forward with Mike Zunino after the improvements he made in Tacoma last year.
- Kyle Seager reflected on his 2016 season, and explained the situations that caused him to make more errors than usual.
- Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin is excused from the first few days of training camp because he is a witness in a court case currently going on in Miami, surrounding human trafficking. It’s easy to forget what players from Cuba must go through in order to play in the United States.
- Reliever Steve Cishek had a big day on Tuesday in his return from hip surgery, we learn in this Mariners Notebook.
- A post on Lookout Landing peeks at the potential Rainiers starting pitchers and gauges how likely they are to make starts for the Mariners this year.
- Pace-of-play has become an unexpected battleground between the Commissioner and the Players Association, John McGrath writes.
- Ex-Rainiers outfielder Abraham Almonte is trying to win a spot on the Cleveland Indians roster.
- In the PCL, Reno has named Greg Gross interim manager due to a chain of events involving the Diamondbacks major league coaching staff.
- The owner of the Omaha Storm Chasers purchased Baseball America magazine, and it sounds like he did it with all of the right intentions.