For baseball fans in the area and especially for the Canadian and  Northeast snowbirds down here for the winter, spring has officially arrived. The Toronto Blue Jays, in Dunedin and the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, have begun spring training to get ready for the 2020 season, Both teams and their fans are filled with a lot of excitement for the coming season and getting out in the sun and warm temperatures to watch their favorites get ready is a local ritual that has been taking place for more than 70 years.

For the Jays fans not only are they getting to see the players and some new faces up close, but other changes as well. There is a major renovation going on at both the jay training complex and the stadium where they play their spring games. The Jays have been a major part of the Dunedin landscape since they began play in 1977. Things have a come a long, long way since that time and with the Jays having their minor league team here also, Blue Jays baseball is part of the city.

This year they look to improve on last year in the though American League East division . They have a great core of young stars with second generation players like Pedro Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio to lead the way.  Plus they have established players like Lourdes Gurriel, Travis Shaw, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, etc. to balance out youth  and veteran experience. It will be a fun time during spring training to watch this on the rise team develop.

Over in Clearwater, the Phillies have been part of the  city and spring training scene since 1947, plus having a minor league team here during the season. This year fans will be craning their necks to get a good look at the new faces led by first year manager Joe Girardi, the ex Yankee skipper. They will also be anxious to see another ex Yankee, Didi Gregorius and a former Met, Zach Wheeler, along with players like Harper, Realmuto, Segura and others. The hopes for fans is that this team can compete in a very tough National League East. Based on the roster they have put together and the overall talent, the Phillies should be right in the thick of it in 2020.

For now folks, enjoy spring training and…………PLAY BALL!!

 Art Koch