With the return of Pitchers and Catchers this spring the minds of many baseball fans are turning to two things, young love and visiting Salt River Fields. In this special time of year it helps to have a person with experience who is willing to share their knowledge, about Salt River Fields. Last spring was my first visit to Scottsdale for Spring Training and I enjoyed it so much I later returned for the Arizona Fall League. This facility is so large I wanted to help Rockies fans get around so I created a map that you won't find anywhere else.
There are some things you should know before visiting the Rockies Spring Training facility; first, there’s a Yorgutini on the right prior to entering the complex near the movie theater and it charges by the pound, so don’t load up on too many sprinkles, because the sprinkles are delicious and they will cost you. More importantly the complex is divided into two areas, a minor league and a major league side. The MLB section has a look but don’t touch feel where fans can watch their favorite big leaguers stretch and warm up, but leaves a fan wanting more.
I prefer the MiLB side, because it gives fans a chance to interact with players and build a relationship before they've become jaded from fame. Last year my son received autographs from Tim Wheeler and Edwar Cabrera which made it fun rooting for them throughout their break-out seasons. So here are some tips if you plan on going this year:
1. Take a copy of last year’s roster with player names and numbers on it. None of the players walking around have names on their jerseys and it’s easier to approach one if you know who they are.
2. Take a cute kid wearing a purple shirt with you, it guarantees balls thrown in their direction. Use these balls for autographs, they look cooler than the one’s you just bought from Sports Authority. Then buy the kid Yogurtini as a reward.
3. Hang out around the bathroom (#5 on the map), the players use the same facility as the fans during the day and eventually nature will take it’s course. It’s also in the middle of the MiLB backlot and the players wander past here on their way back and forth from the fields to their lockers.
4. Watch the pitchers on the backlot mounds (#6) to catch the movement on their pitches and indulge your inner scout fantasy while pretending to write evaluations on your iPad. After the pitchers are done they usually stop and talk to whoever is hanging out. Introduce yourself as Keith Law and they seem to chat longer!
5. Watch the minor league games, they’re free and you can catch up to three games at once!! At one point I was able to watch Mike McHenry hit a homerun, Christian Friedrich strikeout a batter, all while playing catch with my son and watching my daughter steal Dan O'Dowd's golf cart. The fields grouped around the restroom will serve as the home parks for the minor league teams usually AAA on the SE field, AA on the SW field and lower level guys on the NW field.
6. Within walking distance are several food options including a McDonalds, Denny’s and Target food court. Bring food to an afternoon minor league session and have a picnic and catch three games at once!
To learn more about Salt River Fields and see lots of pictures, feel free to browse through my fanposts from last Spring and Fall. I also recommend the virtual tour at the Salt River website and the generic map of the facility.