‘Baseball Tonight’ throws preseason pitches on ESPN
By the time you read this, ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian will be well into his tour of MLB spring training facilities, taking the pulse of each of the 30 teams as it readies for the 2019 season.
And while he has no favorites in terms of ballparks or cities, the veteran “Baseball Tonight” reporter will admit to a preference of state.
“There’s no doubt Arizona is better than Florida,” he explains, “because if you get a hotel, which I often do, in Scottsdale, you can get to basically every team in 45 minutes or less, and a lot of places you can get to in about 15 minutes . ... As opposed to Florida, where I spend an awful lot of time on the road driving my car three, sometimes three-and-a-half hours from one site to another . ... I routinely take a 10-day trip to Florida and stay in eight different hotels.
“Now that’s not exactly difficult,” he continues. “Frankly, it’s all good but it’s just a lot easier to cover spring training in Arizona than Florida.”
This week, baseball returns to ESPN with a pair of preseason games from JetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Fla., starting Wednesday, March 6, when Mookie Betts and the defending world champion Boston Red Sox host Gregory Polanco and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Red Sox are also the home team the following night when they play Eddie Rosario and the Minnesota Twins, their Fort Myers spring neighbors.
For fans and reporters, spring training is a great atmosphere. The weather is good, the players, coaches and team executives are relaxed from the offseason and everyone is optimistic about their chances. But most importantly for Kurkjian, it means the opportunity to collect a haul of interviews and information that he’ll use the rest of the year.