#BaseballBegins unleashes fresh optimism

Hope springs eternal when pitchers and catchers report to camp

#BaseballBegins unleashes fresh optimism

"Pitchers and catchers report" are four of the most beautiful words in the English language. Everything old is new again. As another Spring Training gets underway on Wednesday in Florida and Arizona, we are asking people around Major League Baseball what those four words mean to them.

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Dave St. Peter, Twins president:
"The phrase, 'Pitchers and Catchers Report,' has special meaning on multiple levels. In Minnesota, it signals winter's chill is nearly over and that spring is on the horizon. Meanwhile, it brings closure to the 'Hot Stove' and represents the start of the marathon known as a baseball season. Those four words bring hope, anticipation and excitement."

Harold Reynolds, former American League All-Star and current MLB Network and FOX analyst:
"It's the most exciting time of the year for me. I consider myself an optimist, and when you play for teams that were struggling -- like I did for several years -- everybody's on the same plane, and you always think, 'This is our year to win the World Series.' That's what Spring Training and 'Pitchers and catchers report' means to me."

Free-agent pitcher J.C. Romero of Puerto Rico:
"For me, when I hear the phrase, 'Pitchers and catchers reporting,' it means it's time to go, you know. The light switch turns back on, you've got to try to spend the last few minutes with your family because you know it's time to take care of business. It's not panic, it's motivation, it's also the time when you have to show that you put a lot of effort in throughout the whole offseason. So for me, it's a time to go -- a time to go take care of business and enjoy the game of baseball once again."

Rich Hand, who pitched in the AL from 1970-73:
"The beauty of the game -- the start of the start -- starts with questions. It is exciting, a new year, new teammates, starting fresh, new beginnings. In a new career, it can be stimulating; in an old one, it is still exciting. Every guy has missed his teammates. You can't play this game without making lifelong friends. That is why it hurts so much and there is so much empathy for a family that gets traded or a player who is a close friend who retires, there just isn't enough of them. Those guys will be celebrated, for just a little while, then the rhythm of playing takes over and we settle into the game.

"Then, the personal questions come into focus -- [about] contract, pecking order, position, availability of team-position slots. How will I fare? How will I do? It's so easy, I've done it a thousand times, but how about my tools? Did my ankle heal or [did] the surgery on my arm [go well]? Will I be able to work my way in slowly? The dog days of last year wore on me. I trained hard after a short break and I'm in better condition, but that nagging groin or hamstring is something that I still feel when I run hard. These are the uncertainties of the spring -- and most will work out -- but there are 15 catchers out here and some with great talent. Can I hit well enough to get a roster spot or can I pitch in the zone better than last year and pitch inside, or do I have the out pitch that I have been working on?

"As comfortable as everyone feels in the spring -- and hope does spring eternal -- every player or pitcher knows that this is an audition, pure and simple. If you are ready and luck is on your side, it will go well for you. To be on the 25-man roster is no guarantee, and everyone in uniform will feel the pressure. The bell does ring in Spring Training for at least half of the roster. There is precious [little] opportunity to be in the mix, and each time you have to do well to make it. What a great game, what a great time, the old is new again.

Murray Cook, MLB head groundskeeping consultant and original MLB.com Blogger:
"Back in the day, when I was managing the Braves' Spring Training complex in West Palm Beach and Disney, the date when pitchers and catchers reported was circled on the calendar with a big ol' Sharpie like it was Christmas Day. Those words also bring back fond memories of spring, new emerald green grass prepped and ready for the first PFP. Good times."

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Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.