Spring training can make or break an athlete: is it worth the risk?

Madelyn Furstenau ‘26, Student Life Editor

The first taste of baseball after a few months off, an exciting insight into the upcoming season, and the start of America’s favorite pastime: all of these expressions can be used to describe MLB spring training. Teams travel to Arizona and Florida to prepare for the season, and fans excitedly watch spring training matchups between teams. Spring training offers both athletic preparation for players and entertainment for the fanbase; however, there is an ongoing argument among fans regarding the necessity of it.

Although spring training serves as efficient practice for players, it has historically caused many injuries to occur throughout the season. Many of these have been severe, ending players’ seasons before they even begin. Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop, Gavin Lux, suffered a non-contact ACL injury on Feb. 27. Lux was running to third base when he suddenly fell and clutched his knee. He was carted off of the field immediately, and fans later learned that he had torn his ACL and likely sprained his LCL. Lux successfully underwent surgery to repair his tears. According to Sports Illustrated, Lux was “in tears addressing the media after finding out that his season was over before it had even started, but thanked team manager Dave Roberts for being by his side through it all.”

Lux is not the only player who suffered a severe injury during training. Newly recruited New York Mets pitcher, Justin Verlander, has reported an injury in his right shoulder. In his final spring start against the Miami Marlins, Verlander dropped about two miles per hour in velocity while pitching. Due to previous changes made in his pitching mechanics, Verlander had been experiencing discomfort that led to this drop in speed. He was diagnosed with a low-grade strain of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder. 

Although a minor injury, the Mets are still unsure of the exact time that Verlander will be returning. This injury has delayed his Mets debut indefinitely and disappointed New York fans. Verlander, also saddened by the situation, said, “Not the way I wanted my Mets tenure to start, that’s for sure…I’m just very thankful that it’s as minor as it is, but it still doesn’t subtract from how I feel.”

In the past few months, the MLB has focused on adding new regulations to the game. These new rules were intended to “make baseball more exciting” by making games go by quicker. The MLB announced a time difference of about 45 minutes between Opening Day games last year and this year, the newly instated rules doing what they were intended. However, many fans are unhappy with these new regulations, making the point that they are paying the same amount of money for tickets and streaming, just to ultimately watch less baseball. Others say that there is no use criticizing the MLB’s decision as these regulations are not likely to be subject to change. 

Although it is important to cater to the fanbase, the well-being of players should come first and foremost. Instead of making changes to improve the viewer experience, the MLB should put focus on altering spring training to maintain players’ health before the regular season. They could create a rule that regulates an obligated amount of playing time for each athlete throughout the week, lessening the risk for a player to become injured. Considering the importance for players to complete the necessary training to prepare for the season, spring training should not be cut out entirely. Instead, we can come up with safer alternatives, or change rules regarding gameplay during the spring. They could even decrease the amount of games and instead add more practice dates for each team. These ideas will not only contribute to the enjoyment of fans but the actual players themselves.

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