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Thousands of People Come to JetBlue Park for Spring Training Opening Day

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Boston Red Sox Facebook Page
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Boston Red Sox players at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

For baseball fans, the first sign of spring comes in February. That’s when professional baseball teams begin training for the upcoming season. Many teams make South Florida their home during spring training, playing in the Grapefruit League.  

On Saturday, nearly 10,000 people came to JetBlue Park, known as Fenway South, the home stadium of the Boston Red Sox during spring training, to watch them play against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Arriving fans were greeted by a pre-game block party that Massachusetts native Tom Normandy said is reminiscent of games held at Fenway Park.

"Up in Boston, we actually close down the street and have this whole atmosphere out here, with the vendors and the music,' Normandy said. "And so they actually recreated that very well down here."

Dressed head to toe in Red Sox regalia, Normandy said he loves the intimacy spring training brings to professional baseball.

"You feel closer to the players; the players are more relaxed," Normandy said. "It's just a great family outing, it’s a great family time, it really is." 

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The Phenix family, of Middleborough, Mass., poses for a photo before heading to their seats to watch the first Red Sox spring training game of 2020.

Spring training is a time for players like 29-year-old Red Sox pitcher Brian Johnson to prepare for the upcoming regular season.

"Just trying to stay healthy and, you know, I changed my arm motion a little bit, trying to protect my arm and really just going out there and doing whatever I can to help the team win," Johnson said.

Johnson is a Florida native and said he looks forward to this time of year. 

"My family can come to every game, they’re here today; my mom, dad, brother, sister—everybody can come," Johnson said. "It’s much easier for them to come here then travel to Boston or in the northeast or wherever, my family takes full advantage of me being here in Fort Myers."

The Red Sox ended their first game of spring training with a win, beating The Rays 4-3. Spring training games will be held across South Florida until March 24.

Information about games and schedules can be found here

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Andrea Perdomo is a reporter for WGCU News. She started her career in public radio as an intern for the Miami-based NPR station, WLRN. Andrea graduated from Florida International University, where she was a contributing writer for the student-run newspaper, The Panther Press, and was also a member of the university's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.