Major League Baseball spring training camps got underway across Florida and Arizona earlier this month., so spring training and the regular season will begin as scheduled. Feb. 17 was the first reporting date for pitchers catchers for many teams, and most players were in camp by this time last week. Now that players have had some time to prepare, spring training games start Sunday.
With that in mind, here are the important dates to know for spring training 2021.
Feb. 17: General reporting date
Each club will set its own reporting dates and most teams will open camp on Feb. 17. Players will presumably go through COVID-19 intake testing prior to officially reporting. The general sequence of events: pitchers and catchers report, they work out for a few days, then position players report and full squad workouts begin.
You can find each team's specific reporting dates here.
"All 30 clubs are still operating on a bit of a vague, general framework. But we're ready to go and doing as much planning and prep as we possibly can," Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch and the Bergen Record's Pete Caldera, about spring training two weeks ago.
Feb. 26: Mandatory reporting date
The collective bargaining agreement requires players to report to spring training at least 33 days prior to Opening Day, so this is the mandatory reporting date. Players must be in camp by Feb. 26 this year. Zack Greinke made headlines last spring when he reported on the mandatory date rather than the team's recommended reporting date.
"This is the mandatory reporting date," Greinke told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, after reporting last year. "Instead of showing up for voluntary reporting date, I came at mandatory time. That's how I understand it at least ... I just found out we don't have to come these other days. If I would have known that 15 years ago, I wouldn't have been coming for a while now."
Feb. 28: Exhibition games begin
The Cactus League (Arizona) and Grapefruit League (Florida) exhibition seasons are scheduled to begin on Sunday, Feb. 28. The Grapefruit League schedule has been altered to reduce travel amid the pandemic. Spring training games were originally set to being on Feb. 27, but were pushed back a day after the league revised the schedule.
MLB in process of finalizing revised Grapefruit League schedule, placing teams in separate “pods” on east and west coasts of Florida, sources tell me and @MattGelb. West-coast teams in FL will play 28 games and east-coast teams 24, making up rest with intrasquad-type matchups.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 8, 2021
Spring training camps in Florida are spread out, and a road trip can take teams clear across the state and, in some cases, take as long as four hours one way. In Arizona, the teams are all centrally located in and around Phoenix, and the longest road trip is 45 minutes or so. Reducing travel is less of a concern for the Cactus League.
You can find the complete spring training game schedule here.
Opening Day: April 1
Ready or not, the 2021 MLB season is scheduled to begin on Thursday, April 1. That is about six weeks after pitchers and catchers first start reporting to spring training.