I received a question about when pitchers and catchers report and how the World Baseball Classic changes Spring Training. Rather than put it in a reader mail item, I decided to make it into a blog post so more will see it.
Here is the link to my article at The Birdhouse with all the details, but following is a quick summary:
February 14 – Pitchers and catchers for the Cardinals and WBC teams must report to spring training.
February 17 – Cardinals and WBC position players must report.
March 5-23 – World Baseball Classic (link to brackets and schedule)
So, the WBC players (official rosters not yet announced) could be joining their MLB camps anywhere from about the 12th (when the first round teams are eliminated) until the 24th or later depending on travel. That is a big reason spring training is running a week longer than usual.
Of course there is no free lunch. Because of this, the regular season runs through October 4, delaying the post-season into November. If needed, World Series Game 7 will be played on November 5, the latest ever.
Also the Cardinals have just one scheduled day off during the first five weeks of the regular season, on April 20. Including spring training, the team will play a total 70 games from February 23 through May 10.
Albert Pujols and the Dominican Republic WBC team will be training in Jupiter along with the Cardinals and Marlins. They will clear out before the minor leaguers report. The Cards play a spring training game against the Dominicans on March 5 at RDS, of course.
Oddness in the minors
Speaking of, here are the corresponding dates for the Cardinals minor leaguers:
March 9 – Pitchers and catchers report
March 11 – Position players report
March 18 (approx.) – First games
Note that due to the Dodgers having departed Vero Beach, there are an uneven number of clubs in a reasonable proximity to Jupiter. Really only the Mets at Port St. Lucie and the Marlins, who share the Roger Dean complex with the Cardinals are available.
While the schedules aren’t done yet, it looks like the minor leaguers are going to be having as many intersquad games as they will actual spring contests. There is also a possibility that the clubs will split up on any given day, with Triple-A and Double-A playing in one place and the Single-A players somewhere else, for example.
Even during “camp” days, the numbers are still odd. Typically with over 160 players invited, after about a week, the Cardinals break up into five working rosters, including two Quad Cities teams. So the Memphis and Springfield clubs could face off but Palm Beach can play only one of the two Quad Cities teams, for example.
Of course, there will only be one real Quad Cities club that breaks camp, with the others staying behind for Extended Spring Training.
Everyone will get their spring work in, but the situation could be more ideal.