I'd been meaning to check out the Reds player workouts for awhile now, but wasn't sure about the details - where they were, where to park, etc. I knew they were at the Goodyear sports complex, but it's immense, and I wasn't sure where and when to find the players, what parts were open to fans, and stuff like that.
Anyways, I finally went. It was very cool, and I thought I'd share some tips.
The address of the Reds Player Development Complex is 3125 S. Wood Blvd., Goodyear, AZ 85338. It’s on a road that runs behind the stadium.
(That address is also where fan mail should be sent during spring training.)
The building itself isn't open to fans, but it's in the middle of the practice fields and minor league fields. It's also surrounded by ridiculously expensive parked cars from all over the country. (There was a new red pickup with Texas plates parked by the fence, which may or may not have been Jay Bruce's.)
Here's a map (courtesy of Google Maps) of the Goodyear Recreational Sports Complex:
According to Mark Sheldon, Reds workouts are almost always held at the Player Development Complex - not at Goodyear Ballpark itself, and not at away facilities, even when they are playing away games. Instead, they work out on their own fields before piling on buses to go play the game.
They usually start at 8 or 9am, but night games screw up the schedule. If there’s a night game that night, they’ll work out in the afternoon instead. And if there was a night game the previous night, they might not show up on the practice fields until 11am. On the rare off days, there are no workouts.
There's diagonal parking along both sides of the street; it's free and plentiful. When coming from the direction of the ballpark, the Indians facilities are first, then the Reds. (A kindly Indians staffer saw me wandering around looking lost, and directed me to the Reds fields.)
Here's the path from the street to the Reds practice fields:
This practice field has some bleachers, water fountains, and bathrooms.
Joey Votto personally welcomed me!
No, not really. But everyone was very nice. There are a few guards here and there, set up to keep fans out of the places they aren't allowed, but mostly you can wander around as you please. There aren't a lot of staffers around, but the ones you do run into are very helpful and welcoming to fans.
Scott Rolen, Juan Francisco, and Paul Janish fielding grounders.
Janish was not scheduled to play that day, but still took batting practice with the starters. I always wondered if players who were not playing took BP.
It was kind of like a three-ring circus, with batting practice in the middle and fielding on either side. Joey was fielding fly balls on the first base side.
He talked to the fans a little during his workout, which was pretty cool.
The players rotated through the various stations: the batting cage, fielding, shagging flies in the outfield.
Joey in the batting cage:
The players were in groups that moved through the stations together. They were doing a sort of countdown thing in batting practice. The first time through, everyone got 10 swings, then 9, then 8, etc. until the last time through everyone got just one.
They also took turns on the basepaths. Near as I can tell, this was not to practice baserunning. Rather, it was to give fielders and hitters the chance to practice with the distraction of runners on.
Jay Bruce taking his turn as a baserunner.
Bruce was practicing fielding in right field, but it's not as easy to watch the outfielders. They have textile fencing up that blocks your view out there.
The fencing is open in the infield.
Zack Cozart takes his turn fielding.
Brandon Phillips is a character. He was dancing around, doing '70s style moves. Putting one hand behind his head and pointing with the other, bumping people with his butt, and stuff like that. (I saw him dancing around that way in the dugout during games as well.)
I guess he had it made when he won a Gold Glove last year, but isn't using it in games yet because he's still breaking it in.
If you want autographs, morning workouts are definitely the place to go. More players sign than at games, it's less crowded, and since they decide whether they'll come over to the fence to sign, you don't feel like you're bothering them (as you might if you stake out the parking lot, as some fans do).
BP tossing an item over the fence after autographing it:
There's also an area where the fence is lower, if you have something you don't want to throw over the fence. Players often stop there to sign when they finish their workouts, or between workouts.
Even when the big leaguers are playing a game, you can often find the minor leaguers on the practice fields - playing their own spring training games, or doing batting practice and fielding drills. (The Indians minor leaguers were practicing calling fly balls the day I was there. All you heard for an hour was players yelling, "I got it, I got it!")
Someone asked about minor league spring training games. They are open the public, and free. It’s really quiet and laid back – kinda like going to your kid’s Little League games. Minor leaguers work out on the minor league fields (that clover leaf south of the building), and play their games on the practice fields behind the building.
If you’re interested in a particular team, you should probably ask John Fay or Mark Sheldon about the minor league schedule, since they play some of their games away. Otherwise, there will probably be something going on with one or another of the teams, since there are so many of them. As I understand it, if AAA and AA teams are at home, then the A teams are on the road; if AAA and AA teams are on the road, then the A teams are at home. Also, minor league spring training games begin later in the season than the big league games. Typically sometime in mid-March.