Spring training is a fun time of year. Fans, normally fully invested in the outcome and performance of their favourite team, can take a break and simply enjoy the musings of seeing a brand new lineup of hitters every five innings. Of course, for some fans, this may be your first Grapefruit League encounter, something that often seems confusing at first. Here’s our 2017 spring training guide.
Spring training is a time for major league clubs and players to prepare for the upcoming season. However, in an effort to determine the players that should be on the 40-man roster, teams often play games with minor league players. Occasionally, teams will play split-squad games, where they play two games at the exact same time with a split roster.
Unlike the regular season, teams in spring training are not focused on winning. The goal of spring training is to prepare for the season and fully understand the franchise’s depth and outlook on the upcoming campaign. Teams host many non-roster invitees at spring training. These players have an opportunity to make the major league roster, but likely won't.
Blue Jays pitchers and catcher first reported to Dunedin, Toronto’s spring training home (more on that later), on February 14th, with their first workout scheduled for the 15th. Likewise, the full squad reported on February 17th, with the first workout on the 18th.
Games begin on February 25th. Toronto opens spring training playing against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. The Blue Jays play near daily games in Dunedin until March 31st, when the club will head to Montreal to play the Pirates at Olympic Stadium. The season opens on April 3rd against the Orioles.
You can view a full, detailed schedule here.
The Blue Jays, a member of the Grapefruit League (not with the same American/National League teams), call Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin, Florida home during the spring. Home of Toronto’s single-A club, the Blue Jays have played spring training games at this location since 1990.
With the starting rotation essentially set for the 2017, the main focus of spring training will be on the bullpen. The Blue Jays have added Joe Smith and J.P. Howell into the mix, but have lost Brett Cecil and Joaquin Benoit.
Joe Biagini is likely to receive some coverage, as the talk of him moving to the starting rotation has escalated within the past week. In a recent interview with Sportsnet, Ross Atkins shared that Biagini will indeed be stretched out in spring training, perhaps ending up as a starter in triple-A.
Some press may be dedicated to the vacancy left by Edwin Encarnacion, who signed a four year deal with the Cleveland Indians this offseason.
So far, we've already encountered a talking point - Josh Donaldson's injured calf.
The World Baseball Classic, a baseball event that occurs once every four years, is scheduled from March 6th-22nd, and players involved may miss considerable spring training time. The following is a list of Blue Jay players participating in the classic.
- Shane Dawson, MiLB Pitcher, Team Canada
- Dalton Pompey, Outfielder, Team Canada
- Harold Ramirez, MiLB Outfielder, Team Colombia
- Jose Bautista, Outfielder, Team Dominican Republic
- Roberto Osuna, Pitcher, Team Mexico
- Marco Estrada, Pitcher, Team Mexico (note: Estrada will likely not participate in the WBC over concerns about being ready for the regular season, but resides in the designated pool of pitchers who can be selected to join a team’s roster).
- Marcus Stroman, Pitcher, Team USA
- J.A. Happ, Pitcher, Team USA (again, like Estrada, Happ will reside on the DPP, or designated pitcher pool).