Ok. Maybe calling them games is a stretch. After all, they don’t count yet. The players don’t care about winning. Good players won’t play much for a while yet. They call them Exhibition games for a reason. But, they do call them exhibition GAMES, so it’s a great thing.
Of course, today’s games aren’t part of the regular exhibition schedule. Does that make them exhibition exhibition games? That might be going a little too far. But, a pitcher will throw a ball to a batter standing 60’-6” away with the intention of getting him out. A fielder will make a throw trying to beat a runner to first. The game will be played by all the rules normally used. It’s, like, baseball for the first time since October. Woo Hoo.
At the same time, nothing scares me more than spring training games. I don’t want players playing all out and risking injury. The last thing I need is a player chugging hard trying to score on a single, and blowing out his knee as he rounds third. He better not jam his ankle into the first base bag trying to beat out an infield hit. The only thing that matters is getting in shape, and ready to play. But, by the same token, I’m not sure I want them taking it easy either. If Carl Crawford is running toward the foul line after a ball, I sure don’t want him running hard and slamming into the wall. But, I’m not sure I want him pulling up quickly either. Jamming on the brakes can cause just as many things to go pop as letting it fly.
Of course, as the Cardinals just found out, even simple drills can spell disaster. Obviously, the players need to practice. Obviously, they need to get into playing shape. They need to hone their focus. They need Spring Training.
I just wish it didn’t scare me to death.