That’s the question John Shea answers in his latest column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Shea notes that the Giants will play 35 spring training games in 32 days and the Bay Area rival Athletics will play 32 games in 31 days. As you can see from the Giants’ schedule on MLB.com, there are a handful of split-squad days and only one scheduled day off.
Shea spoke to Giants catcher Buster Posey, who said, “You could definitely shorten it.” He added, “It really doesn’t make sense. We’re trying to be in the best shape possible for Opening Day. Boch [Bruce Bochy] does a good job of taking care of us. But it’s been going on for years.”
Bochy has been having his players make their spring training debuts later than players on other teams, which he calls “slow-playing”. And it wouldn’t be surprising to see other teams follow Bochy’s lead.
Shea notes that the topic of shortening spring training could come up in negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement. The current one expires in December.
Obviously, spring training has become a significant source of revenue for baseball teams, so the owners agreeing to a shorter spring schedule would be agreeing to forfeit money. And that’s a tough sell. But if it’s not taken as seriously, with players debuting later and later and playing less often, it will lose its appeal. Fans will stop showing up as often and the owners will lose money anyway. There’s certainly a middle ground to be found somewhere in there.