Thursday, January 28, 2016
Spring Training In Arizona
There has been a lot of speculation over the last few years about when Shohei Ohtani will be coming to North America. I can answer that question - he's coming this week! Of course, he's going back to Japan a couple weeks later...
Last spring, the Fighters announced that they would be holding the first part of their 2016 Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona. This is not the first time that an NPB team has trained in the US although I can't remember that last time it happened.
Details have been released over the last month on the Fighters website including a schedule of events and a list of players attending the camp. The Fighters will be at the Padres facilities at the Peoria Sports Complex from February 1st to the 15th. They will play intrasquad games on the 6th and 14th and games against KBO teams on the 8th (Lotte Giants), 10th (Lotte again) and 13th (NC Dinos). There are workouts scheduled for all other days except the 5th and 11th. I think workouts will start around 9:45 each day (including the days that there are games). As far as I know, all events are open to the public although there is probably an admission charge to the big stadium for the games against the KBO teams.
I've translated the roster of the players and coaches the Fighters are sending to Peoria. This obviously is a great opportunity to get autographs of Japanese players.
As you may have guessed from the Fighters' opponents in their spring training games, there are several KBO teams training in Arizona as well. From what I've been able to figure out from looking at MyKBO.net, team websites and asking questions on the MyKBO.net forum on Facebook, there are six KBO teams training in Arizona (and they are already there as they started in mid-January). The Lotte Giants are using the Mariners facilities at the Peoria Sports Complex. The LG Twins are at the Dodger's facilities at the Camelback Ranch in Glendale. The KIA Tigers are using the Diamondbacks spring training quarters at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. The Nexen Heroes are Surprise but I don't know if they are using the Royals or the Rangers facilities (both are at the same stadium complex). The KT Wiz and NC Dinos are both training in the Tucson area (everyone else is in the greater Phoenix area). NC is at Reid Park but I haven't been able to figure out where KT is training. All the teams will be there through at least the first week of February - you can see details for each team's schedule here.
The SK Wyverns are currently training in Florida but I do not know any details of where they are. NC and KT are doing the second part of their spring training in the Los Angeles area but I don't know where they will be doing that or what the time frame for it is.
On a personal note, I will be in Arizona for work in early February and I'm hoping to make it over to Peoria to see the Fighters as well as check out some of the KBO teams at their training. So hopefully there will be some future posts with pictures.
UPDATE - there's an article in a local paper giving details about the Fighters' training schedule. I will quibble with one thing they say - this is not the first time in 30 years a Japanese team has trained in the US as the Swallows used to train in Yuma until the late 1990's. (H/T NPB Reddit)