We're just a few days before pitchers and catchers report and ESPN Dallas will begin daily updates from spring training this week (I arrive later today).
For those of you thinking of going to Surprise, Ariz., to see the Rangers at spring training, here is some basic information and some web sites to keep handy:
Tickets: You can purchase spring training tickets by going to the Rangers web site here or calling 1-800-745-3000 or going in person to the Surprise Stadium box office. Here are the hours and directions to the stadium box office.
Practice fields: Some of the best opportunities to see the players up close and attempt to get an autograph is before games are played, either during the next few weeks (games start March 4) or in the mornings before games are played while the club is working out. Expect increased security not only because of Yu Darvish, but because the Rangers are now the two-time defending AL champions and that means more folks want to come see them.
What to do in Surprise: There is more to Surprise than baseball, though that's the economic driver this time of year. And I'll remind you that with Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the AL West now, not to mention a host of other big league clubs, it's fun to travel around and see other facilities and other teams while you are in the Phoenix area.
But here's the official Surprise, Ariz., city web site with links to golf, parks, and other activities. There are more than 300 golf courses in the state and nearly 200 in the Phoenix area alone. So if you're a golfer, it's a great place for you. That also includes about a half-dozen courses in and around Surprise. Click here to find those.
Eating: In the first few years the Rangers and Royals shared Surprise Recreation Complex, there wasn't much in the way of food in Surprise. But every year, it seems the city is adding restaurants and now has just about something for every taste. Paradise Bakery is a popular lunch spot for sandwiches, salads and its proximity to the ballpark. But if you want Mexican, Italian, burgers, sushi and pizza -- Phoenix is actually known for its pizza (I recommend Grimaldi's in Glendale, though there are some good pizza places in Surprise too).
Walking/running: The weather really is nice for outdoor running and walking and there's a nice, large park right near the stadium too. It's got plenty of good playground equipment for kids to run around and play.
I'll share more with you once I get there and see what's new in and around Surprise.