It’s a gray, rainy final day of February in Northern California, but down in Arizona, Cactus League baseball is in full swing.
The two-time defending A.L. West champion A’s are in their final year calling Phoenix Municipal Stadium their spring home, again searching for the right combination of pieces to carry them to a third consecutive postseason berth. Nearby, in Scottsdale, the Giants seek to distance themselves from their third-place finish in 2013 with a similar roster that includes a few new veteran faces.
Already there has been news out of both camps. Giants manager Bruce Bochy earlier this week announced Madison Bumgarner, the 24-year-old left-hander coming off his first All-Star season, will take the ball for the Giants on Opening Day. Pablo Sandoval reportedly took his teammates’ encouragement to heart when it came to his conditioning. New arrival Michael Morse showed he still has the power he flashed in Washington during the first spring game this week, driving two potential home run balls to right field against the A’s. Oakland’s Josh Reddick robbed both. John Jaso returned to catch the spring opener for the A’s after missing the entire second half of last season with concussion symptoms. Behind a flurry of social media activity from A’s fans, bespectacled Eric Sogard just missed being named the “Face of Major League Baseball,” falling to the Mets’ David Wright.
Like last season, the Bee will again devote this space to covering both teams, with game coverage, features and regular news updates. Our coverage from spring training will begin Monday, and you can track updates from Arizona on the Bee’s A’s and Giants page, as well as on Twitter at @matthewkawahara. Time to start brushing up on your 25-man rosters, late-inning relievers and the new instant replay rules. Opening Day is a month away.