Feb. 20: Q of the Day
I’m curious about what to expect when Spring Training games start. Who plays and how much playing time will pitchers and position players get? Are there any players that don’t participate at all?
– Jeff Y., Hermann, Mo.
You’ll find that early in the Grapefruit League schedule, the position players who have secure spots on the Major League club don’t play all that often. They might start every other day or so, and they’ll typically only play the first few innings of the game. As we get deeper into spring, those top position players will increase their playing time, as needed.
Now, position players who are fighting for roster spots or are those who are in position battles will be on the field with more regularity. This will be the case for someone like Matt Carpenter, who is trying to prove that he can handle playing second base. The only way for the Cardinals to evaluate his ability at second is to play Carpenter. You’ll often see the non-roster players — or players who have come up from Minor League camp just for the day — are the ones who finish on the field.
On the pitching side, everything is scheduled ahead of time. The starting pitcher will know how many pitches/innings he’s going to throw during his appearance, and the relievers know ahead of time if they are going to pitch that day. Pitchers who are not listed to throw on a certain day often don’t stick around for the game.
Unless there are health concerns, all the players in Major League camp will participate, to some degree, in Grapefruit League play. For position players, they need games to be able to track pitches and get their timing down. The pitchers, on the other hand, need to see how hitters are reacting to their different pitches. These are all things that cannot be fully simulated in side workouts.
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