When spring training begins in Sarasota, Fla., Feb. 13, Orioles fans will have the opportunity to see the 2018 version of the team up close. If you're planning to head south to see the team in action, here are some helpful tips.
When Should I Go?
The first workout for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 14; the full squad reports four days later.
Early workouts on the back fields of Ed Smith Stadium are free and open to the public. They generally begin around 10 a.m. and last about two hours.
Feb. 23 marks the first of 16 home games; 12 of the 16 games begin at 1:05 p.m. The other four (Feb. 24, March 11, 20 and 24) begin at 6:05 p.m.
How Do I Get There?
There are no non-stop flights to Sarasota's airport, which is just 10 minutes from Ed Smith Stadium. Several airlines fly there, but most fans use Southwest Airlines, which has many non-stops to Tampa, Fla., about an hour away.
A car is mandatory if you go, and if you decide to drive from Baltimore to Sarasota, it's about 15 hours away.
Where Do I Stay?
Many major chains, both mid-priced and upscale, have properties in Sarasota. March is a big month for tourism as well as spring break, so expect to pay up.
Some Orioles fans have used Airbnb and Vacation Rentals by Owner, which often offer cheaper prices. Many of these homes and apartments are close to Ed Smith Stadium.
What's There To Do?
If you're in town for a week and you'd like to see a few games, tickets for Orioles home games range in price from $16-$30. Ed Smith Stadium's capacity is 7,500 and is quite intimate.
Sarasota is one of the nicest areas in Florida, and there are a lot of other things to do besides baseball.
Nearby Lido Key and Siesta Key aren't far from the ballpark and are considered some of the prettiest beach areas in the country.
Lido is near St. Armand's Circle, which features excellent shopping and restaurants. Siesta also has some nice places to eat but limited shopping.
I would also recommend a visit The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. It has an excellent art museum and really neat circus museum. Yes, the Ringlings were the circus family.
Can I Go To Road Games?
One of the many advantages of being in Sarasota is that the Orioles are located within 90 minutes of eight other teams.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are the closest. They train in Bradenton, Fla., about 20 minutes from Sarasota. The Blue Jays (Dunedin, Fla.), Phillies (Clearwater, Fla.), Rays (Port Charlotte, Fla.), Red Sox and Twins (Fort Myers, Fla.), Tigers (Lakeland, Fla.) and Yankees (Tampa) are relatively easy commutes.
In 2020, Atlanta will move from Disney World to nearby North Port, Fla.
If you go to road games, don't expect manager Buck Showalter to bring many of his regulars. The boldface names play mainly at home.
Where Should I Eat?
People in Sarasota love to go out to eat, and the city has many excellent restaurants with all types of cuisines.
Some of my favorites are Cannon's (steaks), Columbia (Cuban), Dry Dock Waterfront Grill (seafood), Duffy's Sports Grill, Mi Pueblo (Mexican), Patricks (burgers), Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar (seafood), Yoder's (Amish) and Yummy House (Chinese).
Follow Rich on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB