Opening of Major League Baseball spring camps; Cleveland players wear Guardians kit

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Diamondbacks wide receiver Carson Kelly and manager Torey Lovullo shared a hug, a smile and a few slaps on the back under the bright blue skies the Cactus League is known to provide.

The bickering is over. Baseball is back.

A day after owners and players reached an agreement to end a 99-day lockout, all 30 spring training camps opened in Arizona and Florida. Now the four-week sprint begins in earnest to prepare for an April 7 opening day.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a while,” D-backs infielder Josh Rojas said ahead of Friday’s practice. “It’s good that we did everything. I did my best to stay ready for that day, whenever it came. It happened quickly.

Cleveland ace Shane Bieber eased into the Guardians kit, Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. started taking balls, and new St. Louis Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol signed deals. autographs as spring training for the major leagues finally began.

At the Goodyear complex that Cleveland shares with the Cincinnati Reds, a few big names have escaped.

Bieber, the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner, and All-Star third baseman José Ramírez were among the players wearing Guardians gear who underwent light workouts after check-in physicals. The team officially changed its name from Indians after last season.

Bo Bichette and José Berríos were among those who joined Guerrero to take care of the Blue Jays camp in Dunedin, Florida. Sunday is the mandatory reporting date for players, but many were eager to get to work early.

Rojas was part of a large contingent of Diamondbacks players who showed up for camp in Scottsdale. Like many players, he had been attending informal workouts in various areas of Arizona as job talks escalated. The union had even set up a makeshift base in Mesa, Ariz., at a multi-purpose sports facility, but that was starting to empty on Friday as players reported to their regular camps.

“We did a very good job staying ready,” Rojas said. “There were a lot of places where 15, 20, 30 guys met, running our own practices. Ground balls, live bullpen, live bats, infield strikes.

In Tampa, Fla., New York Yankees star DJ LeMahieu was part of a multi-team squad that last practiced at a high school less than a mile from the New York complex. Boston’s Rafael Devers and Philadelphia’s JT Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Andrew McCutchen also participated over the past month.

LeMahieu hugged and shook hands with some of the other players after the session.

“Of course, officially the last unofficial practice,” he said.

St. Louis outfielders Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill were at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., where the Miami Cardinals and Marlins share the complex. Last week, Mets star Max Scherzer was also at the stadium, as part of the bargaining teams working on a new collective bargaining agreement.

“It’s good to be back, to be here, the fans, everything. Coming back is all you can ask for,” Marlins outfielder/first baseman Garrett Cooper said as he walked on. moved away.

“I’m glad everything went well and we’re going to complete 162 games. It was important for a lot of people to play a full season in front of everyone and to be back here with COVID and everything that is beyond us. Just having 162 normal matches is important for us,” he said.

On this day, with temperatures in the 80s under partly sunny skies on the east coast of Florida, almost everyone seemed ready to go from ABC to ERA and RBI.

“The fans have been through a lot lately,” Texas Rangers president Jon Daniels said.

Yankees slugger Luke Voit said, “I just didn’t want to lose any fans. They deserve that we are already there.

Ron Hoskins and his son Shawn had traveled from St. Louis to Jupiter two weeks ago when it emerged Major League Baseball and the union were close to reaching a deal. The settlement came too late for them to see a Grapefruit League game – they have to go home on Saturday and the exhibition season starts next Thursday.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be able to see a spring training game here this year,” Hoskins said.

The trip was not a total loss for Hoskins.

Donning his replica Yadier Molina white jersey, Hoskins took Shawn, who has Down syndrome, to the ballpark. They were among a group of about a dozen fans and autograph-seekers who waited outside the doors, hoping to catch a glimpse of something major league baseball.

Although they haven’t seen any big leaguers, Hoskins and his son were able to meet Marmol, who was promoted from bench coach to Cardinals manager after last season.

Reaching the gate, Marmol crouched down and stuck his arm through the fence to sign Shawn, 37,’s shirt.

“I liked that,” Shawn said.

Cardinals CEO Bill DeWitt was disappointed to learn that Hoskins and his son will be out.

“Sorry it worked out like that. It’s a shame they can’t stay a few more days and see the training sessions and so on. It’s obviously disappointing that we didn’t start in time “said DeWitt.

At George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Yankees fans have been asking about spring training tickets, with games set to start next week. Inside the team store, new jerseys with “Grapefruit League 22” were in stock and new televisions were installed in the restaurants inside the park.

Many players also have work to do.

Freddie Freeman, Carlos Correa and Trevor Story were among more than 100 free agents without a contract when camps opened.

All-Star left-hander Carlos Rodón and the NL West champions San Francisco Giants have agreed to a two-year, $44 million deal, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been announced.

Rodón, 29, was 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA last season for champions AL Central.

Arizona Diamondbacks players run during the first day of spring training, Friday, March 11, 2022, in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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