Jump to content
  • Welcome to AngelsWin.com

    AngelsWin.com - THE Internet Home for Angels fans! Unraveling Angels Baseball ... One Thread at a Time.

    Register today to comment and join the most interactive online Angels community on the net!

    Once you're a member you'll see less advertisements. If you become a Premium member and you won't see any ads! 



OC Register: Hoornstra: For spring training campers, an unfamiliar courseload on the first day


Recommended Posts

Welcome to the first day of school.

Look around the room. Get to know your new classmates’ names. Just look on the backs of their jerseys or the top of their lockers. For an ice-breaker, turn to the person next to you and tell them one fun thing you did this offseason.

Your assignment for each day will be posted on this wall. This year, we will be studying some special subjects. Some of them are commonly associated with baseball. Some are not. You’ll want to be familiar with each of these topics. This year won’t be exactly like any other in your career, and I can promise that’s true whether you’re a rookie or a veteran.

So pull out your pen and a sheet of paper and take notes. These will be on the test.

1. Atmospheric science

Dodger home games at Camelback Ranch-Glendale will open to fans at 18% capacity for Cactus League games this spring. That translates to a maximum of 2,400 fans, on par with many a minor-league game. Angel home games at Tempe Diablo Stadium will operate at 25% capacity, or about 1,800 to 2,000 fans per game.

When playoff games at Globe Life Field opened to fans in October, players unanimously preferred playing in front of fans – even at limited capacity – to cardboard cutouts and piped-in crowd noise. The atmosphere wasn’t the same as a typical year, but it was a welcome change of pace.

Unlike the regular season and playoffs, the spring training atmosphere usually doesn’t depend on the in-game experience. The practice fields behind the main ballparks are where the action is for autograph seekers, or anyone hoping to catch an up-close glimpse of a team workout.

Unfortunately for fans, the back fields at Camelback Ranch and Tempe Diablo are closed to fans entirely until further notice. For players, that represents a noticeable change in atmospheric conditions.

2. Politics

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association magnanimously agreed on a set of modified rules for spring training games.

Through March 13, managers are allowed to end an inning before three outs have been recorded, as long as his pitcher has thrown at least 20 pitches and the most recent plate appearance is complete. Pitchers are allowed to re-enter a game after they have been replaced by a different pitcher. Oh, and remember the three-batter minimum rule? It won’t go into effect until March 14.

Pitchers’ workloads will be monitored closely. They must compensate for a 170% increase in innings compared to last year, the difference between playing 60 games and 162. But only American League pitchers will enjoy the luxury of a designated hitter in the regular season, after the players’ union reportedly chose to withhold negotiating a universal DH rule until the pending Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation.

That means the DH rule will be decided by clubs on a game-by-game basis in spring training, just like a normal year. Is it really safe for pitchers to be hitting, and training to hit, while their pitching arms face such a steep ramp up to the regular season? If not, blame politics.

3. Exercise science

Speaking of pitchers, how do you ease a pitching staff into a 170% workload increase? Baseball has no playbook for such a problem.

The likely solution will vary from team to team, perhaps by quite a bit. It will challenge the flexibility of every team’s strength and conditioning staff, medical staff, and any associated performance coaches. Six-man starting rotations could become the norm. The norms will likely reveal themselves on a team-by-team basis over the next six weeks as players demonstrate their readiness for the task ahead.

The day-to-day routine of alternating long toss and bullpen sessions and intrasquad batting practice is a time-honored (read: boring) spring training tradition. The COVID-19 pandemic managed to shake it up.

4. Physics

After home runs soared to record rates, surging past steroid-era highs in three of the past five seasons, MLB is deadening its game-used baseballs. According to reports, the new balls will fly 1 to 2 feet shorter when they’re hit farther than 375 feet.

The physical composition of the ball is integral to everything in the game, from hitting strategy to pitching strategy to the simple act of throwing a ball from Point A to Point B on the field. Players are quick to notice even the slightest differences in the ball.

A memo sent to teams two weeks ago detailed the changes coming, according to the Associated Press. The AP reports that Rawlings – which manufactures the baseballs at its plant in Costa Rica – loosened the tension on the first of three wool windings within the ball, an adjustment that will lessen the ball’s weight by 2.8 grams without changing its size. The league does not anticipate the change in weight will affect pitcher velocities, according to the AP.

In theory, such a change won’t affect the surface of the baseball, which has been blamed for everything from pitcher blisters to soaring home runs in seasons past. Subtle or not, the changes to the baseball amount to an on-the-fly physics lesson for players.

5. Epidemiology

We’re all armchair epidemiologists at this point, right? For players, their 2021 COVID-19 operations manual is a 108-page slog of rules and regulations designed to keep them and their housemates safe at home and on the road.

They won’t be expected to memorize every detail, but they will be expected to exercise common sense at all times between now and the end of the season. That means more mask-wearing in the dugouts, no getting too close to an umpire on the field, and physical distancing in the clubhouse and weight rooms, just like last year.

Spring training will look and sound a bit more normal than the 2020 regular season. The reminders of the pandemic will still be omnipresent in baseball, more for the absence of spring’s familiar hallmarks than the presence of cardboard cutouts.

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...