I feel that ice is slowly melting…

Four words.  Technically, three words and a conjunction.  They are four rather unexceptional words that, when used individually, can be used in many different contexts.  When used together, they form one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language.

PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT

Our yard is still covered with snow and icicles hang from the house.  If we venture outside, it is to go sledding or build a snowman rather than for a game of catch.  The temperatures in Ohio are still struggling to climb above freezing, but it doesn’t matter anymore.

The fact that pitchers and catchers report to the Cincinnati Reds’ new training complex in Goodyear, Arizona today means that green grass and sunshine are just around the corner.

Optimism and anticipation fill the air as every team starts with a clean slate.  Young players fighting for a roster spot find themselves showcasing their skills on a daily basis.  Established veterans enjoy the relaxed atmosphere as they fine-tune their skills in anticipation of Opening Day.

I can close my eyes and see the perfectly manicured fields.  I can feel the first few beads of sweat as the sun emerges from behind a cloud.  I can hear catcher’s mitts popping as young pitchers attempt to turn the head of a coach or two.

Eager to see the new facility and get started, many players are already in camp.  Position players are due to report to Goodyear next Tuesday, with the first full-squad workout that same day.  The Reds open up Cactus League play on March 5 against the Cleveland Indians.

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