Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What do you want from a spring training article?

Reading Material:
Andrew Stoeten's storylines of Blue Jays spring training, Vol. 1, from AA through L.
* John Lott takes a closer look at Miguel Castro, who impressed last year.
* Alexis Brudnicki profiles former Lugnut Christian Lopes, who had a terrific winter.
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On this same subject, I asked Alexis Brudnicki, who covers Canadian baseball players like no one's business and also happens to be my good friend, the following question:
What are the most helpful stories or angles that a media member can report on from Spring Training?
Alexis: 
From Spring Training, most often fans, insiders, media members, and even some of the players themselves are looking to get caught up. The most important stories often revolve around what people have missed out on over the last several months. More important than which player got married, or who got a selfie stick for Christmas, or how many deer Chad Jenkins managed to take down during his hunting expeditions over the course of the winter should be storylines revolving around players traded to the organization, injury updates, what holes are being filled, where there are still voids, what the team is doing to address them, and other similar housekeeping issues.
Once those issues are hanging out on the clothesline to air out - because more often than not they won't be completely resolved until much later than the updates are first reported - introductions to new players are at the forefront. Everyone wants to know who the new faces are, how they can help, and what makes them likeable. Why should the organization rally around them? Obviously every player is at spring training for a reason - they've done something along the way to impress someone, or perhaps several someones - so what is the reason.
My personal interest in this category lies more with the 'fringe' players. I know that there will be no shortage of stories on Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin and Michael Saunders, but I want to know more about guys like Chris Colabello and Liam Hendricks, and of course other Canadian players like Andrew Albers and Jeff Francis. Often times the focus is on the players who are projected to be on the Opening Day roster, but how often are those players the ones who stay with the squad over all 162 games? I want to know more about the guys who might not start in Toronto, but will be up there at some point. It's never too early to get a beat on them. And chances are that at least one of those guys considered to be on the outside looking in will have a fantastic spring and earn a surprising spot on the roster that heads to Yankee Stadium to open the season.
My response:
I agree about focusing attention on the role/fringe players and giving fans a reason to care. Once the exhibition games start, I love having guys to look forward to. A fine piece on Chris Colabello, relating his story and telling what he has to accomplish in Spring Training in order to make the team, helps me to appreciate his March at-bats with more insight and significance. I want to know about who has a chance to make the team and why; what are they like and why are they in camp? Position competitions don’t get old for me. Figure out which spots are up for grabs and which spots are locked down, and let’s go from there – but keep me updated if a spot that seemed to be locked down suddenly looks iffy, or presents an opening to an aspiring player.
Lastly, give me the joy of spring. It’s bitterly cold where I am. The more I hear about how much fun everyone is having, the more it brings me warmth and anticipation for the coming spring.
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And now, let me ask you: What is it that you're looking for to learn from spring training stories?

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