Players, coaches, fans can feel excitement of another new season
By Richard Justice
We associate the beginning of Spring Training with distinctive sounds. Batting practice and bullpen sessions. Baseballs cracking off bats and popping into gloves. Coaches shouting instructions during infield practices, players hustling from one drill to the next.
Whether it's your first Spring Training or your 50th, these are magical sounds. Beneath the familiar chatter is the best thing about the beginning of a new baseball season.
That's the attitude that accompanies it. There's joy and optimism and expectations. Every manager, coach and player feels it. THIS is what we've been waiting for. THIS is the good stuff.
These first days of Spring Training are hearing Clint Hurdle's booming voice again. It's watching Joe Maddon gather his players and tell them he has just one rule: run hard to first base. It's watching Dustin Pedroia show up with as much enthusiasm as in his very first spring. They're surely among the happiest men on the planet.
There was a photo of Pirates teammates Andrew McCutchen and A.J. Burnett embracing the other day. That single moment captures everything about this process of starting anew. This week begins an eight-month journey that will have moments of inspiration and moments of disappointment.
Along the way, we may meet a new generation of stars: Kris Bryant of the Cubs, Joc Pederson of the Dodgers, Archie Bradley of the D-backs and many others.