As Indians fans prepare for their journey to the Sunshine State, here are some questions and answers that should help:
When do the Indians arrive at camp?
The Tribe's pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 15, with the position players following on Feb. 20. The first full-squad workout is on Feb. 22.
When do games start?
The Indians' Grapefruit League schedule begins with a road game on March 1 at Chain of Lakes Park against the Astros.
The Tribe's exhibition slate will continue throughout the month, finally wrapping up March 31 Memphis, Tenn., when they face the Cardinals in the inaugural Civil Rights Game.
How do I get tickets?
Tickets for all Indians Spring Training games at Chain of Lakes Park are on sale now and can be purchased at the Chain of Lakes Park box office, by calling Ticketmaster at (866) 48-TRIBE, by fax at (863) 299-4491 or online at the Indians' Spring Training Tickets page.
Chain of Lakes Park holds 7,900 fans. Located on the shores of Lake Lulu, the ballpark is a relic. It was built in the mid-1960s, and, despite being renovated in 1993, maintains the old-school charm of its era.
Ticket prices and other information can be found at the Indians' Spring Training Tickets page.
Where is Winter Haven, and how do I get there?
If you're coming from Cleveland, you have the option of flying into either Tampa International Airport or Orlando International Airport, both of which are about an hour's drive away from Winter Haven, depending on traffic.
Chain of Lakes Park is located at 500 Cletus Allen Drive, on the south side of Winter Haven.
If you're pulling into town from Tampa, take I-4 East to Exit 27 (Polk County Parkway). Stay on the parkway for about 12 miles before taking Exit 14 (S.R. 540) toward Winter Haven. Follow S.R. 540 East for eight miles. Turn left onto U.S. 17 North and follow it for two miles over the bridge to the first light. Turn right at the light, and the ballpark will be on your right.
If you're coming in from Orlando, take I-4 West to Exit 55 toward Haines City/Cypress Gardens. Take U.S. 27 South for 16 miles. Turn right on S.R. 542 and follow it for about two miles. Turn left onto County Road 550 and follow it for about three miles. Turn right on S.R. 540 and follow it for about two miles. The park will be on your left.
Parking is available at the training facility, which is adjacent to the ballpark.
How can I watch the team work out?
Before the start of the Grapefruit League schedule, the Major League team hits the field around 9:45 a.m. and some hitters stay out there well into the afternoon. Workouts on the lower fields, especially Nos. 1 and 2, are easily accessible to fans. Also, merchandise and limited concessions are available that time, to go with free parking.
Once the games begin, the morning workouts are generally closed to the public before the gates open at 11 a.m. But fans can watch the workouts on Triple-A Field No. 1 free of charge.
Where can I get some autographs?
Autographs are abundant at the Indians' complex, because players are easy to catch as they walk from Field 1 to the stadium. Before and after games, the best place to try to snag a player's John Hancock is in the first row of the bleacher reserve section in right field, because all the players pass that way.
The Indians will hold autograph days on March 1, 8, 16 and 23 and 30 before the games. The sessions are usually held by the team shop, and two or three players usually attend each day. Get there early, though, because the line is generally capped off around 150 or 200 people.
What else is there to do in Winter Haven?
Take the kids to Cypress Gardens, a boardwalk-style amusement park with four roller coasters and a giant Ferris wheel. Or take advantage of the boating, fishing and water skiing available on the chain of 16 freshwater lakes. Looking for a great milkshake? Hit up Andy's Igloo. Looking for a slice of pizza? Try Pasquale's Pizza. Both are close to the park. And if you're looking for a postgame brew, try Beef O'Brady's sports bar.
For more information on Winter Haven, visit the city's Web site at www.winterhavenfl.com.
Where can I stay?
There are several old standbys close to the ballpark, such as the Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Days Inn, all of which are within walking distance. The Best Western Admiral's Inn is a five-minute drive away, but it's right at the main gate of Cypress Gardens. If you're looking for more upscale lodging, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in Orlando is the official Spring Training resort of the Cleveland Indians.
When do the Indians open the regular season?
For the second consecutive year, the Indians will open the season against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on the South Side of Chicago on April 2 at 2:05 p.m. ET. The Tribe has its home opener at Jacobs Field against the Mariners on April 6 at 4:05 p.m.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less