Baseball is back, pitchers and catchers hold first workouts

By Janie McCauley


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. _ David Price made his first big-money throws of spring training as Boston’s prized off-season acquisition, while new Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke began Day 1 with his new club by drilling on the basics of covering first base.

Johnny Cueto showed off some orange-tinted dreadlocks beneath his off-kilter cap that will fit in perfectly with his new San Francisco Giants colours. His former team, the World Series champion Kansas City Royals, arrived in the desert and were set to get started Friday.

From Arizona to Florida, that familiar sound of baseballs snapping into gloves returned Thursday as many clubs held their first spring training workouts for pitchers and catchers that signalled the true start of a new year. In the greater Phoenix area, a cooling cloud cover provided a respite from the unseasonably warm 90-degree temperatures.

Now, all those franchises that went on off-season spending sprees for pitching are counting on those arms to bring heat.

Greinke, signed to a $206.5 million, six-year contract with surprise suitor Arizona, was picked as the Diamondbacks’ opening day starter in what manager Chip Hale called the easiest decision he has had to make. The right-hander is scheduled for his first bullpen session Friday in Scottsdale.

Price brought his new $217 million, seven-year deal to Red Sox camp with similar fanfare, while Jeff Samardzija began getting in sync with his new San Francisco catcher, Buster Posey.

After playing catch with closer Santiago Casilla, Cueto sat in the dugout at Scottsdale Stadium soaking in the scene of his new spring home. Dominican Republic countryman, former Giants manager and outfielder Felipe Alou, made a point to stop and thank the pitcher for joining the organization.

Any nerves for Cueto at this stage after just winning it all with the Royals?

“Claro que no” _ of course not, he quipped. “Maybe if I were a rookie,” he said through translator Erwin Higueros. “I came from pitching in the World Series. I don’t get nervous.”

He is plenty funny, however. When told ace Madison Bumgarner brought horses to spring training, Cueto cracked, “Maybe he will sell me one, or maybe he will gift me one.”

Manager Bruce Bochy figures Cueto will fit in well on a Giants team that has won the World Series in even years of late _ 2010, ’12 and ’14 _ with some different characters.

“We’ve been called misfits, cockroaches,” Bochy said. “This is as solid as I think we’ve been, and that’s saying a lot.”

In nearby Tempe, the Los Angeles Angels pitchers and catchers reported ahead of Friday’s first practice.

Reporting day for Padres pitchers and catchers was decidedly more low-key this year than in 2015, when San Diego had big expectations following a shopping spree by general manager A.J. Preller.

“Same as every spring training,” said outfielder Matt Kemp, one of a handful of position players who arrived early. “I think everybody has a goal of coming in and making a championship team. Nothing has changed from last year.”

Catcher Yadier Molina and the St. Louis Cardinals got going in Jupiter, Florida, and Pedro Martinez was busy working as a special assistant on the field with the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

At Yankees camp in Tampa, new closer Aroldis Chapman said he will appeal if suspended by Major League Baseball under the sport’s new domestic violence policy.

Manager Buck Showalter loved seeing so many of his Baltimore Orioles regulars report ahead of time. That included South Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim, who brought with him a dozen members of the South Korean media.

Asked if he was nervous, he said with a smile, “A lot.”

“They enjoy coming here,” Showalter said, “I think they enjoy being around each other.”


AP Sports Writers Bob Baum and Bernie Wilson and AP Freelance Writer Mark Didtler contributed to this report.

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