It's after Jan. 1 and freezing in New York. Thankfully, Spring Training is roughly a month away...
Mets pitchers and catchers are required to report to Tradition Field by Feb. 12, with their first full workout coming two days later. The team's position players are not required to report until Feb. 17, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Feb. 19.
That said, just like in previous seasons, I'm sure dozens of players will begin descending on St. Lucie in the next couple of weeks. Thanks to having their strength and conditioning consultant, Mike Barwis, in St. Lucie running his facility at Tradition Field, the pre-spring meet up essentially turns in to an official-unofficial mini camp. In other words, the reporting dates are nothing but a formality...
The team's first home game will be at 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, against the Washington Nationals in Port St. Lucie, FL.
I just printed out the calendar to figure out when I should go down to St. Lucie this spring. I know people think the games are what it's all about. However, personally, I love attending the workouts, which take place in the week or two before the Grapefruit League begins.
It's no-pressure, intimate, casual and fun to see the guys focused and working on specific aspects of the game. If you have kids, it's a great place to go, watch and talk about the game as a collection of skills, not just the strategy and wins and losses.
The Mets train on five-to-six practice fields behind Tradition Field. It's wide open, but organized with pathways to walk from field to field. In the middle of the four big practice fields are stands, benches, bathrooms, and a concession stand with grill, drinks, etc. (I recommend the chicken sandwich). Here, fans are also able to lean against the fence and hear Terry Collins and his coaching staff instruct and work with their players. Collins also takes time to lean on the fence to have random group talks with fans, answering questions and listening to -- in some cases -- pretty honest feedback. It's very entertaining.
Obviously, autographs are a big thing this time of year as well. Players will occasionally stop between drills, though that's not always the case. They do have a job to do. Instead, it's best to catch them at the end of practice, usually running between fields or exiting the back field to the clubhouse.
Here's a map I drew on to try and show where fans are able to walk, starting when camp opens to the public each day, as well as good spots to get autographs and talk with players…
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) has been the lead writer of MetsBlog.com since 2003, as well as Executive Editor and Director of Digital Content for SNY.TV and host of the MetsBlog Q&ACast, pres. by Citi.