• WHAT’S HOT: Spring Training 2015

    Image: Getty Images / Joe Robbins

  • Protective gear for caution

    Though safety is always a top priority, accidents happen. As we saw last season, even the pros can sometimes get drilled by an errant pitch. While we’re not trying to instill fear in you (or your kids), a protective batting helmet (even those without a face mask) might be a worthy investment. This is true especially for younger players who are not only learning to hit, but are also facing pitchers learning to pitch (a.k.a. pitchers who haven’t yet mastered their control).

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  • Batting glove technology continuing to evolve

    Since the advent of the batting glove, bare-handed hitters have dwindled and dwindled until the point of near extinction. If going mitt-less at the dish is your thing, and it works for you, don’t change it. But if you’re looking for a set of gloves that are thin, comfy and don’t limit flexibility, take a look at the new XPROTEX Adult Krushr Gloves, which give the added support of a composite that intends to reduce impact and injury of small bones that often go overlooked.

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  • Hitters busting out the lumber, again

    While the MLB continues to preserve the lives of their infielders by banning metal bats (meaning you won’t be seeing them in Spring Training), you’re still likely to see a lot of fresh maple (and ash) throughout Arizona and Florida this March. Now we’re not asking you to sacrifice your batting average using a wood bat while everyone else sticks to aluminum, but it may be wise to have a bat for practice to prevent your game-bat(s) from losing pop. For a BP bat, stick to wood, as it’s not only more cost-effective, but it also has the added bonus of making you feel like King Kong when you use metal in a game.

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  • Players going with alternatives to pine tar

    Speaking of getting the best grip possible, anybody who’s ever used pine tar before has probably gotten sick of the constant clean-up. Luckily you live in an era of alternatives. Behold the All-Star Tiger Stick Bat Grip. While you’re still guaranteed to see pine tar applied in Major League on-deck circles, more and more, top players are opting for the easy-to-use Tiger Stick grip. It not only gives you a great handle of the bat despite sweaty, slippery hands, but it also gives a long-lasting option to those who’ve tried pine tar and simply don’t like it. If only this stuff was around when George Brett played you might remember him for his Hall of Fame career instead of the time he went absolutely berserk on an umpire.

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  • People acting like it’s summer again

    After a frigid winter up north, there’s no more gratifying sight than the sunny, green-grass ballparks of Spring Training. After so many months of cold, it’s only natural to forget what the sun is and what it does. Let us remind you, it’s very bright. And on days with no cloud cover, you don’t want to find yourself too nervous to catch a pop-up because you forgot to take your sunglasses with you out onto the field.

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  • Pitchers using this time to build up arm strength

    Spring Training may seem excessive, but its length is crucial for players to get into game shape, especially pitchers who arrive early to get their arms ready for the test of a 162-game season. Your time on the mound can be grueling; make sure you still have the endurance late in games to finish what you started (provided your coach will let you, of course). Weighted baseballs (and softballs) are not only perfect for strengthening a pitcher, but they’re also practical for fielders looking to mount a reputation as having the most powerful cannon in the league.

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  • When in doubt, go Trout

    The ‘50s had Mickey Mantle, the ‘90s had Ken Griffey Jr., this generation has Mike Trout. We have no reason to expect a sudden change in Trout’s dominance; he’ll once again be in the MVP conversation at the end of the year. For any aspiring five-tool player reading this, take a look at these Trout-inspired cleats if you’re on the fence when it comes to footwear this spring. There’re many good choices out there, and sometimes it can be overwhelming, but you can’t go wrong with a pair of shoes influenced by the game’s best player.

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  • Compression sleeves becoming the norm

    More and more pro ballplayers are opting to use compression sleeves, especially in a marathon season where they need quick muscle recovery. While they shouldn’t be seen as a cure-all for any injury, they should have you feeling better the day after a hard fought ballgame, whether there’s fatigue in your legs or your arms.

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  • MLBers continue to look more and more like top-notch athletes

    Once confronted by a fan shocked at a world-class athlete’s tobacco usage, three-time All-Star John Kruk responded: “Lady, I’m not an athlete, I’m a baseball player.” That used to be the old belief. Gone are the days of the pros smoking in dugout tunnels. Instead, those players are replaced by a generation that stays in-shape year ‘round (except, of course, for Pablo Sandoval). Obviously the old notion of weight lifting negatively impacting your game has been tossed out the window. If you want to get the most out of your ability, there’s plenty of equipment to enhance your game. Trust us, whether you feel you need to sharpen your speed, power, agility, or balance, there is something out there has got you covered.

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WHAT’S HOT: Spring Training 2015

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You’ve waited for months, and the finish line is in sight. After a lengthy offseason (in every town but San Francisco), it’s finally time to take the field again. At long last, Spring Training is here and Opening Day is right around the corner. Though these past few weeks might not have matched the excitement of games that actually count, it is the time to get ready for a summer of baseball. Use it wisely. Here are nine trends from Spring Training that we’re looking forward to seeing play out this year.