Cardinals Fan’s Primer for Planet Jupiter

Does the snow have you ready to run away to somewhere warm? Are you dreaming of beaches, warm weather, and maybe Cardinals frolicking under palm trees?  Missing baseball so much it hurts worse than the icy wind blowing in your face? Wishing you could teleport yourself into those pictures coming out of Cardinals Camp? Thinking about actually joining them? You’re not alone!

As winter weather statements and advisories blow up my phone, I take solace in the fact that in about 4 weeks, I’ll make my 6th annual to pilgrimage to Jupiter, Florida and St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training. Mixed in with those incoming winter weather alerts have been messages from friends and acquaintances asking for information on to make the most of spring training. Just thinking about the answers warmed me and made me forget about the frosty forecast.

I’m not an expert on this, but I have picked up some useful information over the years. Tips on where to stay; how to navigate practices; purchase tickets to games; grab autographs; where to eat; and killing time when not watching baseball or laying on the beach.

While I’m not a travel agent, I do stay at a Holiday Inn Express. The Holiday Inn Express Juno Beach has been my spring training home every year. It is billed as “Oceanview”, but only a few rooms have that view and even from those, the view is limited. Personally, it’s not a big deal, there are rooms that overlook the pool if you must have water out your window. The Holiday Inn Express is a half block from the beach, so it is very close. Beach with kite IMG_2905Guests can grab a loaner beach chair from the front desk at no charge. If I’m not watching baseball, I’m on the beach. My friends have stayed at the Hampton Inn across the street from the Holiday Inn Express, and enjoyed it. Both hotels have breakfast included in the room rate and are about a 10-15 minute drive to Roger Dean Stadium and Cardinals baseball.

Let’s get to the real reason we find ourselves in South Florida in February/March: Baseball! St. Louis Cardinals Baseball! Roger Dean Stadium Roger Dean Stadium is located in an area called Abacoa. In addition to the baseball stadium and practice fields, Abacoa is home to restaurants, businesses and a large residential area. Street parking is available, but at a premium and there are restrictions (2 hour limit, etc), so watch for signs. There are also 2 parking garages fairly close to the Roger Dean complex.

The big leaguers practice on fields 1 & 6, behind the actual stadium. The players usually come out to the fields about 9:45 and practice until about 11:15/11:30.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For a run down of practice, check with the security guys at the gate to the players parking lot (which is between the stadium and the practice fields). They usually have a sheet that shows the practice schedule for the day and which players will be where & when. Fields 1 and 6 are adjacent, so you can watch both fields without much walking. (Although, there is quite a bit of walking from the parking to the stadium/fields, so be prepared). There are bleachers available, but know that many people will be lined up along the fence to watch practice, so your view might be slightly blocked. Arriving around 9:00am will more than likely get you a spot along the fence, but know that you will be standing for a couple of hours and leaving your fence spot will probably result in forfeiture of said spot. Sometimes, after practice, a player or coach will come to the fence line and sign autographs. Hence, the high demand for that fence spot.

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Catching Up With the Cardinals: Monday Morning Edition

Ah, Monday morning … right after Daylight Saving Time begins. And just when we were beginning to enjoy the fact it was brightening up after 6 a.m. Patience is now needed again for the longer days ahead.

DiazAs you’ve probably read by now, the St. Louis Cardinals have signed 23-year-old Cuban free agent shortstop Aledmys Diaz to a four-year contract. There aren’t many details about it yet, as he’s scheduled to be introduced at a news conference this morning, but Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has some good info on what he calls “a landmark moment for the Cardinals. His will be the richest contract ever from the Cardinals for an international free agent or amateur, signaling their intent to reach beyond the Latin America amateur market they’ve cultivated.”

Joe Schwarz at Viva El Birdos also has been covering Diaz in-depth since he first worked out for the Cardinals several weeks ago.

Headed to Jupiter, Fla., to see the Cardinals spring training games at Roger Dean Stadium? Forbes reports that the Cardinals have the 10th most expensive spring training tickets, with an average price of $50. The teams with more expensive tickets, in order from 9 to 1: the Astros (perhaps surprisingly?), the Twins, the Phillies, the Cubs (which is perhaps not a surprise — have you seen there new spring home?), the Yankees, the Giants, the Rangers, the Braves (who train at Disney World) and, of course, the Red Sox with an average price of $79.

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