TAMPA, Fla. - Believe it or not, the Grapefruit League schedule gets underway Saturday.

First Normal Spring Training Since 2019 On Tap For Bay Area Baseball Fans

TAMPA, Fla. -  Believe it or not, the Grapefruit League schedule gets underway Saturday.
BayCare Ballpark, Photo By Tom Layberger

TAMPA, Fla. – Believe it or not, the Grapefruit League schedule gets underway Saturday.

Indeed, the sights and sounds of the first normal spring training since 2019 are most welcome. Schedules were cut in half due to the pandemic in 2020 and, while a full schedule was played in 2021, it was one that emphasized as little team travel as possible and with games played in front of sparse crowds due to attendance restrictions.

Last year, labor issues between players and owners were not resolved until the second week of March. The result was a condensed schedule and vacation plans that were altered or never materialized.

There will be no such issues this spring. In fact, with the Rays playing all but one of their spring training home games at Tropicana Field – they host the Yankees on Tuesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena – due to Hurricane Ian-related damage at their Port Charlotte facility, baseball fans have three options this spring in Pinellas County.

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Of course, whether it is heading east on I-4 or south on 1-75/I-275, there are other options as well. With that in mind, here is a glance of what will take place at spring training complexes this spring in the bay area, and a little beyond the region.

Steinbrenner Field, Tampa – Yankees
Beginning with Sunday’s game against the Braves, the Yankees will play 17 games at Steinbrenner Field, including five night games. The AL East rivals Rays visit twice: March 4 and March 27.

BayCare Ballpark, Clearwater – Phillies
It will be a busy weekend at BayCare Ballpark. The action gets underway Saturday afternoon against the Yankees in what will be the first of 16 games for the Phils in Clearwater. There will a split squad Saturday and a full squad available for Sunday’s game against the Twins.

TD Ballpark, Dunedin – Blue Jays
The first game at the Blue Jays’ spring home will a split squad against the Yankees on Sunday and feature a beach towel giveaway. There will be 16 games in Dunedin with the first full squad game on March 4.

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Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg – Rays
The Rays will play 13 games at the Trop. The first game will be March 2 against the Twins. They will have three home games against their Pinellas neighbors with two against the Blue Jays (March 9 and 19) and one versus the Phillies (March 22).

Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland – Tigers
The Tigers will have 16 games in Lakeland, a schedule that commences Saturday against the Phillies. They also have a home game Sunday versus the Orioles.

LeCom Park, Bradenton – Pirates
Pittsburgh opens its spring training schedule Saturday afternoon against the Blue Jays. The Pirates have 16 home games, including Doug Drabek bobblehead day on March 18 versus the Twins.

Ed Smith Stadium, Sarasota – Orioles
The first of Baltimore’s 17 home games will be Saturday against the Twins. The O’s have a number of promotions this spring, including giveaways such as t-shirts March 3 against the Pirates and golf visors March 16 versus Toronto.

CoolToday Park, North Port – Braves
Further south on I-75, the Braves will have their first full spring schedule and with full capacity permitted since moving from the Disney complex in Lake Buena Vista at the end of the 2019 Grapefruit League schedule. Two of Atlanta’s 17 home games will be World Classic tune-ups for the Dominican Republic (March 8) and Puerto Rico (March 9).

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