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MLB 2024 Spring Training: How to watch and everything you need to know

<i>Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Shohei Ohtani stands in the batter's box during a Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training practice session.
Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Shohei Ohtani stands in the batter's box during a Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training practice session.

By Ben Morse, CNN

(CNN) — It is a time of hope renewed with fresh faces in new places and possibilities aplenty.

MLB Spring Training action begins on Thursday ahead of Opening Day on March 28, but in an interesting twist, the opening regular season games of the year actually take place roughly a week earlier in Asia.

The LA Dodgers and San Diego Padres will make history when they play an official two-game series in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20 and 21, marking the first MLB games ever played in that country.

A week later, all 30 teams, including the Dodgers and the Padres, are scheduled to play, as the MLB season unfolds in earnest.

With players ramping up their preparations and getting acclimatized to new teams, here’s everything you need to know.

How to watch Spring Training

The 30 MLB franchises will be split into two different leagues throughout Spring Training: the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

Fifteen teams apiece play in the respective leagues, with the Cactus League based in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Grapefruit League throughout southern Florida.

Although there have been many myths about the origins of the names of the two leagues, they have been given their respective names after plants that are commonplace within the regions.

The soon-to-be South Korea-bound Dodgers and Padres will open proceedings on Thursday when they play as part of the Cactus League at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Ten teams will then either play in Spring Training games or feature in exhibitions on Friday before all 30 take to the field on Saturday.

MLB Network and ESPN will show the Dodgers and Padres’ encounter, while other Spring Training games will be broadcast via local providers and on the streaming service.

Star-studded Dodgers

One of the biggest pulls of Spring Training is seeing players in their new jerseys after switching teams in the offseason.

Step forward Shohei Ohtani who, after months of speculation, signed a historic $700 million contract to move across Los Angeles from the Angels to the Dodgers.

The two-way player has blossomed into one of MLB’s biggest stars, setting records regularly whether from the pitcher’s mound or batter’s box – though Ohtani will not pitch again until 2025 after undergoing elbow surgery and will only serve as a designated hitter in 2024.

The excitement of Ohtani’s arrival to the Dodgers has been heightened with his early showings from training camp.

The two-time American League Most Valuable Player put in an impressive performance during his first live batting practice, slamming pitches deep to the delight of fans who had gathered to watch.

Although he is unlikely to play in the Dodgers’ Spring Training opener against the Padres, Ohtani’s arrival to one of MLB’s most successful franchises – where he will team up with superstar outfielder Mookie Betts and 2020 National League MVP Freddie Freeman – solidifies the team into a certified championship contender and one of the biggest draws in the big leagues.

And Ohtani isn’t the only new superstar to put on a Dodgers jersey this season.

Ohtani’s much-lauded compatriot, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, signed with the team during the offseason, with the right-handed pitcher inking a massive 12-year, $325 million deal to join from the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.

Yamamoto – a three-time Pacific League MVP – adds to an already stellar pitching roster alongside Clayton Kershaw, and his signing means the Dodgers have spent more than $1.1 billion in deals this offseason between him, Ohtani and Tyler Glasnow.

Names on the market

Although many teams have already made their offseason moves, there are still plenty of high-quality names still available on the free agent market.

Team performances in Spring Training could force the hands of MLB front offices into picking up some last-minute acquisitions to correct any issues that may appear.

Pitcher Blake Snell is one of the hottest names on the left on the market, coming off a stellar season with the San Diego Padres.

He was named to the All-MLB First Team last season, as well as winning his second Cy Young Award – given to the best pitchers in both the American and National Leagues.

Despite having one of the highest market values of any available free agent remaining according to Spotrac, Snell has yet to find a home, although the 31-year-old reportedly has an offer on the table from the New York Yankees.

The two parties have had a strange offseason, with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reporting that the Bronx Bombers offered Snell a five-year, $150 million deal earlier this offseason which the Padres ace turned down, before New York turned towards signing Marcus Stroman.

However, Nightengale reports that the Yankees still have “serious interest” in acquiring Snell before the season begins.

Cody Bellinger is another highly-sought after name in free agency.

Having left the Chicago Cubs in the offseason after an excellent 2023, the 28-year-old outfielder’s next destination is one to keep an eye on.

Nothing has yet materialized for Bellinger, but a return to the Cubs is rumored along with a host of other teams waiting in the wings to pounce in case he doesn’t return to the Windy City.

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