Spring training is back, and these Phillies fans could not be happier
Fans came out to Carpenter Complex in Clearwater to watch the Philadelphia Phillies during their first spring training workout after a 99-day lockout.
With gates at spring training sites across the greater Tampa Bay area finally open, baseball fans aren’t hesitating to watch their favorite teams.
Workouts began on Friday, a day after baseball owners and the players association reached an agreement to end a 99-day lockout and begin a full 162-game schedule starting April 7.
That's good news to the few dozen fans of the Philadelphia Phillies, some of whom traveled from all over the country to see their team during their first workouts Friday at Carpenter Complex in Clearwater.
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“We’re from Haddonfield, New Jersey," longtime Phillies fan Pat Barnes said. "We come every year for spring training in February and March and I’ve been coming to the ballpark for nine years.”
While spring training tends to attract fans who make the trip south every year, some are getting their first taste of spring workouts.
Take Jordan Reed, for example.
“I guess I’ve been following the Phillies since I was like 5 or 6 or so," said Reed, of Philadelphia. "This is my first time down to spring training, though, so I’m excited they’re back to it because it’s been a lot of beach time and not a lot of baseball time so far.”
Steve Leverett traveled with his wife and daughters from Macon, Ga, to see his son, Adam Leverett, a pitcher for the Phillies' Double-A affiliate in Reading, Pa.
“He’s in the minor league part of the Phillies organization and the weather’s so much better here than it is back home," Steve Leverett said. "We’re hoping to get a chance to see him actually throw today.”
Despite spring training being shortened by the lockout, people like Barbara Sharpe remain undeterred. She travels here with a group from Cape May, N.J.
"I love baseball and I know that everybody is mad at the players, and the MLB and the whole business," Sharpe said, "but I still think it’s an everyday, blue collar kind of a sport that people can still afford to go to and enjoy."
The Phillies will play their first spring training game against the Detroit Tigers at BayCare Ballpark in Clearwater on March 18.