It’s said that spring training is a time to think about being young again.
According to Dagwood Bumstead, husband to comic strip’s Blondie, “Baseball…is the cornerstone of civilization.”
Whatever it is, it’s here and it’s about time. No longer are we forced to listen to rumored aftereffects of sequestration and lavish descriptions of which dress made the best debut at the Oscars. Nor, thank goodness, are we relegated to watching professional bowling. Baseball is back, and it’s being played in our own back yards here in the St. Petersburg – Tampa area.
Tampa Bay Rays Reinvent Themselves, Again
Despite losing J.P. Howell, James Shields, Wade Davis, B.J. Upton and Carlos Pena, the Rays have added needed firepower with the additions of pitchers Juan Carlos Oviedo and Jamey Wright, outfielders Wil Myers and Jason Bourgeois, and shortstop Yunel Escobar. By rights, the Rays could be more dangerous in 2013 than ever before.
Snagging Escobar, who hit .290 last season with the Marlins, gives the Rays a much-needed punch on offense and defense. Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist are both back, as is David Price, and, as always, manager Jo Madden has assembled a bullpen marked by depth, if not experience. And the recent signing of Luke Scott should more than fill the hole left at DH.
The Tampa Bay Rays play in the American League East along with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the Orioles and the Blue Jays. The Rays won their division and the pennant in 2008. Since 2007, they’ve enjoyed four straight winning seasons, and four playoff appearances, including two AL East championships and one trip to the 2008 World Series, where they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Rays play their home Spring Training games at the Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte. For tickets, click here.
Here is a list of teams that play within easy driving distance from the St. Petersburg-Tampa area with links to their Spring Training schedules, compliments of Chris Hounchell & Associates:
Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte)
New York Yankees (Tampa)
Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater)
Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin)
Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota)
Pittsburg Pirates (Bradenton)
Detroit Tigers (Lakeland)
Houston Astros (Kissimmee)
Atlanta Braves (Disney)
Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers)
Boston Red Sox (Fort Myers)
Go out there and support your favorite boys of spring or summer and let’s play ball!