Valley fans of major league baseball are doubly blessed for 2002, and not just for the obvious reason -- the Diamondbacks' highly anticipated follow-up to last year's stunning World Series victory. No, another baseball bonus happens early and yearly, with much less fanfare but plenty of action: Cactus League Spring Training.
Filling up more than a solid month with an average of five-plus games a day, from Wednesday, February 27, through Sunday, March 31, 10 topnotch pro ball clubs settle in at stadiums around town and in Tucson for some healthy competition.
The beauty of these preseason showdowns comes from catching so many national teams without venturing too far from home. Ticket prices vary, but in general they're cheap, ranging from $2 to $21 for lawn, bleacher and stadium seats. With most games starting at 1:05 p.m., the biggest challenge you'll face is finding a way to play hooky from work.
Tickets for any of the games are available from each team stadium's box office, as well as through the Web sites and numbers listed below. See our Calendar listings for schedule details this week and every week through the training season.
Cactus League's first game is Wednesday, February 27: San Diego Padres vs. Anaheim Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium, 2200 West Alameda in Tempe, 602-438-9300. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444. Other Cactus League teams:
Arizona Diamondbacks, Tucson Electric Park, 2500 East Ajo Way in Tucson, 1-520-434-1111. Tickets are available at www.azdiamondbacks.com.
Chicago White Sox, Tucson Electric Park, 2500 East Ajo Way in Tucson, 1-520-434-1111. Tickets are available by mail order.
San Diego Padres, Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue in Peoria, 623-878-4337.
Seattle Mariners, Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue in Peoria, 623-878-4337. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444, or from www.seattlemariners.com.