It’s finally back. The 2014 Major League Baseball season begins with Cactus League games on Wednesday.
Whether you’re a casual fan who plans to head out to a game or two, or a die-hard who’s intent on hitting each of Arizona’s spring training stadiums in the next month, here’s a reason to catch all 15 Cactus League teams in action.
Arizona Diamondbacks: A first glimpse at the D-Backs’ two big offseason pickups: slugger Mark Trumbo, who was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels, and starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who was signed as a free agent earlier this month.
Chicago Cubs: A chance to mingle with the team’s adorable new mascot, Clark.
Just kidding. How about the opportunity to catch a game at the brand-new Cubs Park, a state-of-the-art facility in Mesa that replaces the Cubs’ long-time Cactus League home, Hohokam Park.
Chicago White Sox: Last year, the Phoenix New Times rated Glendale’s Camelback Ranch, the Cactus League home for the White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, as the Best Place To See A Spring Training Game – in part because of the incomparable Chicago Dogs offered during White Sox games.
Cincinnati Reds: If you’re looking to enjoy spring training in style, Goodyear Ballpark features amenities that other facilities don’t, including luxury suites that hold up to 15 guests, and field-level cushioned seats that include beverage service. Also, Cincinnati’s famous Skyline Chili is served at the park.
Cleveland Indians: If you’re an Arizona Wildcat fan, you may be able to snag an autograph from Indians’ manager Terry Francona, who led UA to the College World Series championship as a player in 1980. A Tucson resident, Francona has been a frequent attendee at UA basketball games this season.
Colorado Rockies: Get an early look at some key players that the D-Backs’ NL West rivals picked up during the offseason, including left-handed starting pitcher Brett Anderson and 2006 American League MVP Justin Morneau.
Kansas City Royals: The gorgeous Surprise Stadium, which is also home to the Texas Rangers, was voted the Best Spring Training Facility by USA Today in 2012, and has won similar accolades from other publications since it opened in 2003.
Los Angeles Angels: Former D-Backs’ pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was part of the trade that sent Trumbo to Arizona in December, will be competing for a spot in the Angels’ rotation during Cactus League play. Will the young southpaw leave Arizona fans filled with regret?
Los Angeles Dodgers: Sun Devil fans: Phoenix native and ASU alum Andre Ethier, who still flashes the Devils’ “forks up” hand sign from time to time, has played for the Dodgers since 2006. And, of course, the delicious Dodger Dogs are always a must-have.
Milwaukee Brewers: Maryvale Baseball Park has perhaps the No. 1 unique food option in the Cactus League, as Wisconsin-style bratwurst is available at concessions.
Oakland A’s: Come take a look at the numerous offseason acquisitions the A’s made, including former All-Star pitchers Scott Kazmir and Jim Johnson, along with do-it-all utility infielder Nick Punto.
San Diego Padres: A two-time All-Star and 2010 National League ERA leader, pitcher Josh Johnson was signed by the Padres after an awful 2013 season in Toronto. Offseason elbow surgery may sideline him for at least a portion of spring training – but if he’s able to take the field during Cactus League play, will he show flashes of his former self?
San Francisco Giants: The Giants are yet another NL West team to add a starting pitcher to its rotation for the 2014 season. Fans will hopefully get a chance to see veteran ace and three-time All-Star Tim Hudson, who is nearly recovered from offseason ankle surgery, in action at Scottsdale Stadium.
Seattle Mariners: If a look at the offseason’s biggest free-agent prize, former Yankees’ second baseman Robinson Cano, isn’t enough, the foot-long Ruthian Dogs served at the Peoria Sports Complex are plenty enticing on their own.
Texas Rangers: Fans can cheer or boo home-run-hammering first baseman Prince Fielder, whom the Rangers acquired in an offseason trade. Fielder has had a tumultuous relationship with Arizona fans ever since he snubbed then-D-Backs’ outfielder Justin Upton from the Home Run Derby competition during the 2011 All-Star Weekend in Phoenix.
For more information on the Cactus League, including game times and stadium locations, visit our special Spring Training section on ABC15.com