Spring Training 2014

Bradenton here I come! Look for updates and pictures on twitter from this weekend’s games. Reach out if you’re going to be there too and want to say hi.

Spring Training 2012: Saturday 3/24 Pirate City Recap

Ed. note: Travel delays and prior commitments kept me from getting this posted sooner.

Back to Pirate City again this morning. Minor league coaches differ a lot in their approach. Some will try to be a friend while some are drill sergeants. Class A West Virginia manager Rick Sofield falls into the latter category. On Friday I saw him absolutely tearing into a group of thirdbasemen for not showing enough effort. Today, he was similarly ripping a group of pitchers during a drill where multiple base runners are moving but censored himself because there was an audience this time. Very entertaining to watch in either case.

Lots of meeting on the field in minor league camp, as the group gets instructions for the next drill.

Moments later they were ready to go.

Meanwhile, catchers practice rundowns on another field.

With that, it was time to say good bye to Pirate City and head over to McKechnie and the Astros.

Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 Pirate City Recap

Day Two started at Pirate City. Minor league players were everywhere to be seen on the five and a half fields. Happily, I was able to meet Tim Williams, who runs the excellent Pirates Prospects. Tim informed me that Gerrit Cole would not be pitching, but luckily there was still (as always) plenty to see. A quick photo essay:

Coaches watch batting practice.

Club President Frank Coonelly gives a tour. Steve Blass gave a similar tour earlier.

Tony Sanchez walks through the bullpen.

Sanchez about to step in the cage.

Starling Marte (#6) waits for his turn while Kris Watts hits.

Kyle McPherson throws to Sanchez.

“The Legend” Garrett Jones had a fan on site. The crowd was sparse when we arrived but filled in a lot by the time we broke for lunch.

Autograph hounds float around too. Here, they descend on Tony Sanchez.

The pictures turned out more Tony Sanchez-centric than I intended. Not pictured but seen running various drills: Stetson Allie, Gorkys Hernandez, Mel Rojas, Jr., and Brian Friday.

Lunch was at the nearby Mixon Fruit Farm where my Dad and I ate with fellow Pirate fan Matt Brown. I had a tasty Cuban sandwich followed by this number for dessert.

That is a swirl of orange ice cream made with fresh squeezed orange juice. It tasted just like a cream-sickle only better.

Mixon’s came highly recommended and now I know why. This will definitely become a regular part of our trips to Spring Training.

Coming up: Part II: McKechnie Field and the Tigers.

Pirates Spring Training Guide

Good morning from the road! I’m at the airport, headed down to Bradenton to catch a few Pirates games. If you’ll be at the ballpark Thursday, Friday or Saturday, send me a message and we can meet up.

I’ve been going to spring training for most of the last 15 years and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Hopefully they can be helpful to you if you decide to take the trip for yourself.

1. Pirate City: There’s always something going on at Pirate City unless its raining hard. Usually you can see minor leaguers doing drills from 9-11ish. They play their games around 1, but if the afternoon looks like rain they can move those earlier.
2. At the Game: McKechnie Field opens an hour before the game. Pirates BP will be over by that point but the other team will be hitting. The Pirates have a batting cage and bullpen down the RF line where you can see guys get some extra swings and that day’s starter warm up. If you are an autograph hound, this is where you want to make camp. (Its also a good area for foul balls, so keep your head up.)
3. Breakfast at Popi’s Place right outside the stadium is always fun and they have lots of 90′s era Pirate’s memorabilia on the walls. I’ve heard good things about Mixon’s Fruit Farm and will check it out this year. And if you’re feeling adventurous there’s a place called the Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus out on Anna Maria Island which is incredible. You’ll need reservations be the beer is cold and the potato pancakes are delicious.
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