As a frame of reference, let's do a quick timeline...two weeks or so ago, most of the major league players and staff headed out of spring training for a handful of remaining exhibition games. About one week ago, those minor leaguers starting the season at one of the four full-season minor league levels were on their way to wearing a uniform different from the parent club's that they'd worn all spring.
On Monday, April 1st, MLB welcomed the 2013 season in grand fashion and on Thursday, April 4th, the Minor League baseball season had its own, well-celebrated Opening Day. Baseball is back; everyone is gone, and the streets and fields of facilities in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues are deserted...right?
Nope. Not at all.
Although there is no big budget marketing campaign urging you to "Secure your spot on the concrete or lopsided metal bleachers!", each organization has a bounty of players and field staff maximizing the use of their spring training and player development facilities for the extended season that runs April through early-June.
There are drills, workouts, lunch and, of course, games just as there were in March...more or less...ok, mostly less. The focus is on personalized attention, more regular playing time, and progressing-and-perfecting. The only way that can happen is to actually play games; and that's what happened today; the first Extended Spring Training game was played.
Or, in more relatable terms: HAPPY EXTENDED SPRING TRAINING OPENING DAY! Where was everybody? I took the day off work and enjoyed the game between the visiting Brewers and the hometown favorite, A's! Where was the fanfare/ celebrations/ media coverage...TWITTER? Alas, it was nowhere to be found. I've decided to start a hash-tag for it on Twitter next year: #HappyESTDay Happiest Day? Of course! It's a day with baseball!
The games are fun, the weather is nice, and the price is right (free)! Plus, if you're vertically-challenged, there is almost no risk of someone blocking your view! The biggest thing to remember is that you can (MUST) BYOW&S (Bring Your Own Water & Snacks.) It's not 112 degrees at the time of first-pitch, yet, but you should always have a water bottle with you, especially since there are no concession stands or even vending machines at most facilities.
The players at extended spring are a mix of players who will play short-season ball and players rehabbing from injuries. Some will remain in Arizona for the entire extended schedule, while others will be sent out to full-season clubs over the next few months.
BASICS OF EST
While several teams played their first game today, some will not do so until next week; that's their decision. However, there are some things that all adhere to:
- Games are generally nine innings and played on the minor league fields
-10:30AM Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
- 10:00AM Saturday
- Every Thursday is Camp Day - workout, no game
- Every Sunday is an OFF Day
- The A's last EST Game is Saturday, June 1st
Access: Each facility is different, but generally you have to work to find the entrance, usually where all the cars are, and without going into any buildings/ offices, etc. there is a path that leads to the game. Good luck.
Fans: Just as with the Arizona League in the summer: though the team is often in the midst of the public/fans/etc. the young men are still working; this is their job and we must respect that and treat them accordingly.
**BRING YOUR WATER** You may want to bring a folding chair, or blanket, too.
Ladies, FYI: Public restrooms are not always open.
Since there is an end to Extended Spring Training, what happens to the players after June 1? It just so happens that there are two rosters that will be filled by mid-June: the short season Vermont Lake Monsters (NY-Penn League) and the Rookie AZL A's (Arizona League) teams both begin after the MLB First Year Player Draft (Thursday, June 6th this year).
Vermont opens its season away on June 17th, with the 20th anniversary home opener on June 20th, the same day the AZL A's open their season against the Giants at their Hayden/Indian Bend facility. The rosters for these two teams will come from numerous places, including the newly drafted and signed players, and from the group from Extended Spring.
For now, however, the focus of the players and staff is on playing and progressing.
Happy Extended Spring Training Opening Day, everyone!
Oakland A's Extended Spring Roster
Pitchers - 25
Outfielders - 13
Vicmal De La Cruz
Marcus Jensen, Manager
Carlos Chavez, Pitching Coach
Garvin Alston, Pitching Coach
Lloyd Turner, Hitting Coach
Juan Dilone, Hitting Coach
Chris Lessner, Athletic Trainer
Toshi Nagahara, Athletic Trainer