Dan's Spring Fling: Grapefruit League Map to Change • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Spring Fling: Grapefruit League Map to Change

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JUPITER, FL — The Grapefruit League map is getting squeezed.

Two years from now, the Washington Nationals will leave Viera and the Houston Astros will quit Kissimmee. The Atlanta Braves will leave Disney about the same time, give or take a year.

Grapefruit League logoThe Nats and Astros will head south, joining forces in a park-to-be-built on a former West Palm Beach landfill, on the corner of 45th and Haverhill and within hailing distance of I-95.

Since the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins already share Roger Dean Stadium — the only Florida facility with two teams — spring training will get a giant boost in an area that once housed the Braves, Expos, Rangers, and Orioles.

Having four teams within 15 miles will make scheduling easier for exhibition games and reduce travel expenses for all four.

BravesAs for the Braves, who jumped from West Palm to Walt Disney in 1998, their 20-year marriage was hardly made in heaven. The team has played second fiddle to Mickey Mouse for two decades and feels suffocated in its surroundings. In fact, it’s hard to tell who plays there.

For every Braves sign, there are at least six signs for Disney World or ESPN, a Disney subsidiary that owns and operates Wide World of Sports. In short, the Braves don’t call the shots in their own complex.

Atlanta probably wouldn’t consider offers from Arizona — Braves executives, players, and fans like to be within driving distance of home — but the West Coast of Florida is a definite possibility. Venice has been mentioned, along with Naples, but a new ballpark must be built first.

When the Braves dump Disney, the Mouse will almost certainly sniff around for some other team. But just as Vero Beach discovered, it takes constant maintenance to keep a facility in the first-class condition that teams demand.

Also culled from the camps:

If rookie commissioner Rob Manfred means what he says about aiming to win

Rob Manfred needs to make sure games start and end earlier

Rob Manfred needs to make sure games start and end earlier

young fans, he should make sure showcase events like the All-Star Game and postseason play start earlier so that they end earlier — before potential new fans are counting Z’s . . .

Washington’s NL East title bid took a hit when starting outfielders Denard Span and Jayson Werth were idled by injuries that will keep them out long past Opening Day . . .

The Toronto Blue Jays, hoping to surprise in the AL East, will have to manage without starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who will miss the season . . .

White Sox ace Chris Sale won't be ready for the April opener

White Sox ace Chris Sale won’t be ready for the April opener

White Sox ace Chris Sale won’t pitch the opener but should be ready to resume his rotation spot before April ends . . .

Cuban infielder Hector Olivera has offers from six clubs — a surprise for a 30-year-0ld with no experience in U.S. professional leagues . . .

Hip problems seemingly behind him, Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hit his first spring home run Wednesday . . .

Don’t be surprised if the Baltimore Orioles trade for Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard, a lefthanded hitter who could serve as a designated hitter . . .

How would Ryan Howard look in Oriole orange?

How would Ryan Howard look in Oriole orange?

Looks like Ichiro will get his milestone 3,000th hit as a member of the Miami Marlins . . .

Former Florida standout Jeff Conine, now a pre and post-game commentator on Marlins games, says he hit Greg Maddux well, didn’t hit Tom Glavine at all, and was somewhat successful against John Smoltz . . .

Uber prospect Noah Syndergaard wowed fans at Roger Dean Stadium Wednesday but Matt Harvey struggled in his second spring start when the Fish fried him . . .

Good to see former Marlins manager Jack McKeon prancing around in uniform at the ballpark . . .

EY's speed has opened eyes in the Atlanta camp

EY’s speed has opened eyes in the Atlanta camp

Ex-Met Eric Young, Jr. has been the talk of the Braves camp with his speed, hustle, and surprising defensive ability in center field . . .

Still guessing that the Red Sox will outbid the Yankees for Philadelphia southpaw Cole Hamels . . .

Ex-Met Sandy Valdespin, a versatile player and prime pinch-hitter, should help the Marlins . . .

The St. Louis Cardinals are counting on ace Adam Wainwright to make up for lost time and be ready for Opening Day . . .

Scouts agree that Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow is the key to the Yankees’ success this season.

Keeping Tanaka's elbow healthy is vital to the 2015 Yankees

Keeping Tanaka’s elbow healthy is vital to the 2015 Yankees

 

 

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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