Sunday, March 24, 2013

Not many stars at McKechnie this spring

photo by Grant Jefferies 
Today marks the Baltimore Orioles' fourth and final trip to McKechnie Field this spring. And once again, Bradentonians won't be able to see the likes of centerfielder Adam Jones and catcher Matt Wieters.
Instead, they'll be treated to Taylor Teagarden. And journeymen Chris Dickerson and Wilson Betemit.
Unfortunately, this has been the norm this spring at McKechnie Field: Teams haven't brought their A-listers to Bradenton this spring.
Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz didn't accompany the Boston Red Sox on either of their two trips.
Three trips by the Tampa Bay Rays didn't produce one Evan Longoria sighting.And Kevin Youkilis was the most popular New York Yankee during the Bronx Bombers' lone visit on St. Patrick's Day.
Spring training, of course, is all about getting ready for the regular seasons, and that's a manager's main focus when putting together a travel roster. Fans hoping to see their favorite players during a Grapefruit League road game will always be greeted with some semblance of disappointment.
And there were some circumstances this spring.
The World Baseball Classic took away Jones, as well as Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins and Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey.
The Yankees have been ravaged by injuries, which is why superstars Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez didn't make the trip from Tampa.  And the team's best player, second baseman Robinson Cano, helped the Dominican Republic win the World Baseball Classic.
And one of baseball's best teams, the Detroit Tigers, didn't make one visit to McKechnie, robbing local fans of a chance to see guys such as Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.
Of course, it hasn't been all bad. The Phillies brought second baseman Chase Utley and first baseman Ryan Howard from Clearwater on March 4, and the Pirates are starting generate some of their own stars, such as Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and of course, the ultra-exciting Andrew McCutchen.
And regardless of who is on the field, there are worse ways to spend an afternoon than sitting in the bleachers of a spring training park.
One of the fun parts about spring training is trying to guess which players will accompany a team on a road trip. And even if it hasn't worked out like Pirates' fans have hoped this spring, it's one of the perks that makes baseball in the month of March so unique.

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