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.

Bradenton, Here I Come

I’m headed down to Spring Training for a few games this weekend. The schedule:

Thursday night vs. Bal @ Bradenton
Friday vs. TB @ Port Charlotte
Saturday vs. Phi @ Bradenton

I’ll be at Pirate City either Friday or Saturday morning and Popi’s for breakfast on Saturday.

Stay tuned here and on twitter for pictures, thoughts and notes. If you’re going to be around too then drop me a line so we can say meet up.

Begin Countdown

Baseball is coming.

Three days until Pitchers and Catchers report. Fifteen days until exhibition games begin. Fifty days until Opening Day.

But only 28 days before I’m in Florida myself. Four short weeks before I soak in the sun, splendor and hope of a new season.

While the games are nice (and are your only chance to see the major leaguers in action) the real fun for this fan is

Pedro hits vs Zach Duke at Pirate City

down the road at Pirate City. Get there between 10 and 11- maybe earlier if it looks like there will be afternoon rain. You’ll be immersed in baseball action, with four fields of hitting, pitching and fielding all withing sight of one another. Bring a media guide, or Tim’s book, because the players won’t have names on their jerseys. Also keep your eyes up and your ears open because you could be watching one field and get hit by a foul ball hit from another one.

The picture above was taken with my phone, standing right at the backstop. This is how close you get to the action at Pirate City. Closer than at the exhibition games, and way closer than a regular season game.

So if you’re a fan and have never been to Spring Training for your team, do yourself a big favor and book it. But while you’re there, don’t just see the big leaguers. Stop by the practice field while the minor leaguers are playing too. Its totally worth it.

 

Editor’s note: After some feedback I rewrote parts of this post for clarity.

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