Aside from two weeks at the end of my career, I never spent spring training in Arizona. I was always with teams that trained in Florida so the past few weeks have been an interesting change for me.
The proximity of the teams in the Valley is a huge benefit. No parks are more than about 45 minutes drive so you can get your work in during the morning then head out to play a game in the afternoon. No spending all day on a bus as you do in Florida. That makes it more fan-friendly too, because veteran players are much more likely to make a road trip to a nearby stadium than they are to be gone all day in Florida.
There are so many baseball people here in Arizona, you can see scouts and front office people everywhere. It’s like a baseball reunion, not just at Don & Charlie’s.
Both environments are hitter-friendly but the ball definitely travels better here.
You’ve got a better chance to see a rattlesnake here, but a better chance to see an alligator in Florida.
It was my first time at a lot of parks here. I was surprised at the lack of shade at Camelback Ranch when I saw the Dodgers. Peoria with the Padres and Mariners is very nice. Everyone here at Hohokam has been great to me. The new park at Talking Stick shared by the Rockies and Diamondbacks is gorgeous. If that’s what the Cubs have in store, it’s going to be great.