Spring is fast approaching

While the weather our area has been experiencing during the past few weeks might lead you to believe otherwise, you can rest assured that spring is much closer than you might think.

If you have any doubts, you need only look to Florida and Arizona for the most time-honored sign that the weather will soon be improving.

Those locations are where Major League Baseball’s spring training camps are opening this week. For casual and hardcore fans alike, it means that exhibition games can’t be that far away, and that the start of the regular season is just around the corner.

While the overwhelming majority of residents of our area are Pirates fans, there are some local fans who root for the Indians. The pitchers and catchers from both teams are scheduled to report for spring training today, with Pittsburgh players heading to Bradenton, Fla., and Cleveland players heading to Goodyear, Ariz. Each team will begin workouts Friday.

Cleveland’s full squad is expected to be in camp Sunday, with Pittsburgh’s full squad set to report Monday. Both teams will hold their first full-squad workouts Tuesday.

It’s all in anticipation of the start of exhibition games. The Pirates open their Grapefruit League schedule at noon on Feb. 29 with the annual Black and Gold game at McKechnie Field. Cleveland, meanwhile, opens Cactus League play at 3:05 p.m. March 1 when it meets Cincinnati in Goodyear Ballpark.

While those games don’t really count, fans will be watching so they can get a better idea of what to expect when the regular season opens. For the Pirates, the season-opener is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. April 3 when St. Louis visits PNC Park. The Indians, meanwhile, will open their regular season play at 4:10 p.m. April 4, when Boston visits Progressive Field.

Of the many sure signs of spring that we seek every year, the return of baseball always proves to be the most reliable.

We hope everyone will sit back and enjoy the games as the countdown toward opening day marches forward.