Question of the Day: Is baseball's spring training too long? [Updated]
Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune
There’s a familiar refrain heard around the majors for at least the last couple of decades. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke has been singing it this week, wondering why so many players get hurt when they’re in better shape than ever. "Nobody did sit-ups 20 years ago and nobody tore intercostals and obliques," Roenicke said. “There were a few but not many. You come [into camp] in shape. So you think it would happen less now, but it’s happening more."
Very few good things happen in spring training. But fans love to look forward to baseball season, so stadiums get bigger and bigger and the spring schedule gets longer and longer. Players should never need more than six weeks of camp or play more than 25 to 30 exhibition games. But it’s hard to walk away from revenue, so teams put players at risk more often than they should.
[Updated at 10:59 a.m.:
Steve Gould, Baltimore Sun
Unless a player is a young guy soaking up big league instruction, an old guy striving to prove he’s got something left to contribute or a fringe major leaguer trying to carve out a spot on a team with holes on its roster, six-plus weeks of spring training is gratuitously long.
Even in those cases, four weeks should be plenty of time for a manager to figure out whether said young guy, old guy or fringe guy is going to make the cut. Sure, pitchers need more time than hitters and fielders to get ready for the regular season, but how much more meaningful evaluation is being done in the last two weeks of spring training?
Meanwhile, the risk of injury is ever-present. There’s no point in giving players more chances to hurt themselves in meaningless games. When’s the last time you saw someone reveling in winning the Grapefruit League pennant?]
[Updated at 12:42:
Jeff Schuler, Morning Call
Ask the major-league veteran who has been through at least half a dozen springs and has a roster spot secured, and the answer will be an unequivocal yes.
Ask the youngster trying to catch on, or the borderline veteran hoping to hang on, or the career minor leaguer hoping to get on a roster, and they'll probably say every day is another opportunity to catch someone's eye.
Ask those team executives who have seen spring training morph into a financial windfall, and they'll say it's fine the way it is.
But the time has come and long gone when spring training was for players to work themselves into playing shape after their offseason jobs (quick, name a major-league player who has an offseason job). These days, if they want to keep those six-and seven-figure paychecks coming, they spend the winter staying in shape. So trimming two weeks or so sounds fine to me.]
Photo: Ron Roenicke. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel / US Presswire