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View from Right Field, Camelback Ranch, Glenda...

View from Right Field, Camelback Ranch, Glendale, Az. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Possibly the four most favorite words I look forward to hearing or reading this time of the year are “Pitchers and catchers report.” Nothing says that we’re nearing the end of winter and all of its dark and drear more than those four wonderful words—“Pitchers and catchers report”!

Not only does that yearly pronouncement mean that the hurlers and the backstop men are going to begin the process of grinding into shape, ready for the long haul that is the regular season beginning in April, but it also indicates that the rest of the good guys can’t be too far behind, either.

And so it is, the annual rite of late-winter days when it all gets going again. Soon, there will be way too many bodies running and throwing and batting and sweating in the sun, under azure skies, as hope springs eternal for rookies and hangers-on and others with myriad stories to tell as the spring training drills and games that really are meaningless unwind en route to the start of another regular season.

And it all begins out in Glendale, Arizona, at Camelback Ranch where the White Sox and Dodgers share a wonderful complex. One of the most unique and neat features about the complex, I’ve discovered, is the replica home fields, where two of the twelve practice

This is a fish stocked lake that separates the...

This is a fish stocked lake that separates the White Sox and Dodgers training fields at Camelback Ranch, Phoenix, Arizona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fields (four Major League and eight Minor League) are replicas of U.S. Cellular and Dodger Stadium with exact dimensions for each. There’s even a stocked lake in between the two training facilities.

I’ve never been there, but it is on my “to do” list for a near-future visit  when spring training is in full swing. For now, however, I’ll be content to listen to Ed Farmer and Darren Jackson call the action in those meaningless tilts. Merely hearing their voices coming across the miles on 670theScore is a wonderful thing!

And I just checked out the early schedule for February, and the Sox will play the Dodgers on the 23rd. It’s not Opening Day or the first game of the playoffs, but it might as well be. This is, after all, the return of the team and the game which I love so much.

Perhaps the White Sox will be blessed with a healthy and aggressive pitching staff this season. Will Chris Sale, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Addison Reed, Nate Jones, and—it is hoped—John Danks be the stalwarts of the pitching corps?

Can Tyler Flowers provide enough offense as well as handle the talented pitching staff now that A.J. Pierzynski has moved on to the Rangers? Can newcomers, reliever Matt Lindstrom and infielder Jeff Keppinger, fit in and contribute in key spots along the way? So many questions in need of answers relatively soon during the spring training days.

Getting off on the right foot is always a plus, and Sox fans wonder if this year’s pitchers will be healthy and effective enough, and if there will be enough hitting and solid defense as well, to lead the Sox to a division crown and into the big show in October.

Of course, that remains to be seen, but “next year” is about to be here, and we can hope, can’t we? After all, those splendid words, “Pitchers and catchers report,” have been spoken and written now, so perhaps we can even shout them from a mountain top. Hooray for Spring Training! Let’s go, White Sox! 

See you at the ball park…

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