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5 Tips for a Successful Cactus League Spring Training Trip

Berm View at Peoria Sports Complex. Peoria, AZ.

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I’ve been lucky enough to have been to spring training for each of the last few years. Along the way I’ve learned some tips and tricks to make the most out of your time away from work and help enjoy Cactus League baseball.

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1. Take off at an unreasonable (good) time

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Personally, my group departs LA county at about 3am. Yes, 3 Ante Meridiem.

If you can swing it with the boss and the S/O, this is highly recommended practice. You beat (almost) literally all traffic. You get to Arizona in a reasonable amount of time, at a reasonable time (MST, depending on when your trip is scheduled on the calendar) and most importantly, you can…

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2. Enjoy Arizona Breakfast!

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Seriously, breakfast in Arizona is truly a hidden gem of spring training. That 3am LA departure time gets you into the heart of Phoenix right around breakfast time, and trust me, you’re going to want to fuel up for the day.

Considering that you may be planning on drinking and taking in a ballgame or two for the rest of the day, getting food in you early is a must.

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Pro tip: Be sure to bring a cooler on the trip with you — tailgating is allowing at Cactus League ballparks. 

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Recommendations: Chompie’s in Glendale, Matt’s Big Breakfast in Phoenix.

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3. Explore More Than Just Your Team’s Park!

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Considering that this article is tailored for Dodger fans, this might get me in trouble, but I’ll be honest… for the accessibility and fan experience, Camelback Ranch is one of the worst parks to visit.

The autograph areas — or “autograph alleys” — are scarce and overcrowded. You can’t get terribly close to the grass on the back fields. The ability to just say hi to a player is just really not available.

Don’t get me wrong, Dodger camp is visually one of the most beautiful spring training complexes in Arizona, it really isn’t a huge step up from Dodger Stadium in terms of fan access.

Plan your trip around seeing the Dodgers at other ballparks. Hell, go watch two other teams play. Baseball is baseball, and beer is cheaper than any regular season game. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have watching the Padres play the Brewers at Maryvale park.

Editor’s picks: Goodyear Ballpark (Reds/Indians), Peoria Sports Complex (Padres/Mariners)

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Cactus League Gallery

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4. Don’t Demand a Baseball From A Player

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You’re going to see a loose baseball on the field next to you, but behind a fence. You’re going to want that loose baseball that’s just out of your reach. You’re also going to see a player near that ball, and you’re going to fight the urge to tell at a grown ass human male “Hey give me a Ball!”

Don’t yell at the players.

How would you feel if someone came to your job with commands for you? Just don’t do it. Make it their choice! Ask politely, “hey, could you hook me up with that ball?” If you know the player’s name, be a human. Use it. …reasonably.

Pro tip 2: they don’t know your name, try to not seem overly familiar with them.

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5. Don’t Pay for Seats Behind Home Plate

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You didn’t hear it from me, but lawn and berm seats already get you into the ballpark, there’s no need to waste precious beer money on premium seating. Unless you’re attending a potential sellout game, or have a big group, 9 times out of 10 you can sit just about anywhere you want at the price of lawn admission.

Plus it’s spring training! Don’t stay in your seats, explore the ballpark! Go have fun! Go play around the exhibits. Find baseball celebrities. Don’t be lazy, good baseball happens once a year out in Arizona.

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More at Dodgers Nation

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Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream. He is also 1/2 of the occasional "Clint and Clint #DNpregame" show.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

Go bug him on the Twitter machine for funsies.

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  1. Get Clint, maybe you can help me with this. I’ve gone down the last 2 yrs. I see the players come out, warm up, take no and run back in for the game. But as a coach myself I want to see them doing drills, players working on specific things, etc. When and where do they do that and how can I watch?

    • My observations (Dodgers side). I usually arrive early (between 9:00 and 9:30) and have seen players taking their infield work. Often observed players taking live batting practice on the southeast major league diamond. Wander over to the backfields and they players going through various infield drills, including pitchers fielding bunts and covering first base. I watched last year base running drills (taking extra base) on the backfield infield diamond. Each day is different. We usually go over at least 3 different days for a couple of hours each day. The afternoon sessions are usually minor league games, but also see regulars getting extra at bats against live pitching

  2. Next month will be our sixth spring training at Camelback. I disagree 100% with your advice about the “back fields!” You can stand or sit close to the backstops, players (mostly minor league prospects) casually walk around and sometimes a veteran will be in the crowd watching the youngsters. For the most part, fans on the backfields leave the players to their business without hounding them for autographs. Last year Joc Pederson came through and was very accommodating to kids politely asking for his autograph. You can also stand or sit close to the major league backstops, but the roped off pathways for players can be very crowded.

  3. How about skip lining the money of our cheap owners until I see Harper in a Blue Doyer Uniform

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