2/22/2013 12:10 A.M. ET
Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues spring into action
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
For the first time since San Francisco's Sergio Romo struck out Tigers Triple Crown-winner Miguel Cabrera to end the 2012 World Series, Major League Baseball games have returned.
Sure, the "games" are actually Spring Training exhibitions. But since it's been nearly four months since the Giants' title celebration, particulars don't really matter.
Because baseball is officially back.
Eight teams begin their Spring Training seasons on Friday afternoon, with the reigning American League-champion Tigers and Atlanta Braves kicking of the Grapefruit League at 1:05 p.m. ET in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Tigers star Victor Martinez is especially eager to return to the diamond after missing all of last season with a torn knee ligament.
"It's going to feel great, that's for sure," Martinez said. "It'll be exciting. Even a Spring Training game, I'm really excited to get back in there."
Later in the day, the Cactus League opens in Arizona with three games: Reds vs. Indians, Royals vs. Rangers and Padres vs. Mariners, all of which begin at 3:05 ET.
While the veteran Martinez is ready to go, the defending National League Central-champion Reds are going to rely on youngsters early in the spring. Youth will be on display right away when left-hander Tony Cingrani -- the club's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB.com -- starts Friday's opener.
"The young guys are probably more ready than the veteran guys," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We have an extra seven games. You want them to be sharp and ready, but you don't want them to get those extra innings on them. Early, we'll put a lot of it on the young guys."
Whether the players' names are big or small or their jersey numbers high or low, for those fans ready for games, MLB.TV also returns Saturday. More than 200 exhibitions will be live on MLB.TV.
With MLB.TV, available for $109.99 for a full season or $19.99 per month, fans can watch every out-of-market game live in high definition online.
MLB.TV Premium, available for $129.99 per season or $24.99 per month, allows viewers to watch games online and on mobile or connected devices. Premium subscribers also can choose between home or away broadcasts and receive a free subscription to MLB At Bat 13, the top sports mobile app each of the past four years.
The first four spring exhibitions on MLB.TV are on Saturday, starting with Nationals at Mets at 12:10 p.m. ET followed by Blue Jays at Tigers (1:05), Astros at Phillies (1:05) and Rays (ss) at Red Sox (1:35).
The defending NL East-champion Nationals open Saturday's games at 12:10 p.m. ET against the Mets, while day's final contest pits the Rockies against the D-backs at 3:10 ET.
All 30 teams will be on the field Saturday, bringing joy to fans and players alike.
"No one likes to do these intrasquad games, no one likes to play against each other," Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. "We want to play against other teams. It's good to get your feet wet out there, especially for the pitchers to get comfortable facing live hitting, but we really just want to get out on the field and start playing games."