Sports

Ball players limber up for spring training

Sure, it’s still February and technically it will be winter for nearly another month. But spring is in the air already and thoughts are turning to warmer days ahead. One early sign of spring is the lead-up to ball season and that is now happening at both the professional and local levels…

For Major League Baseball players, pre-season training is underway down south. The Toronto Blue Jays have been in the news already as the team prepares for the 2013 season that will begin on March 31. The team is working out in Dunedin, Fla., under manager John Gibbons, with all eyes on Cy Young award-winner knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. Big spending by the club on a number of off-season acquisitions have Jays fans excited about the season ahead. The disappointment of last year has been forgotten, there is huge optimism for the coming campaign and a World Series run is already being talked about. Time will tell.

As for local ball, registrations are now being taken for players interested in joining minor baseball or softball for the playing season just around the corner.

Nanaimo minor baseball traditionally features a regular season that runs from mid-April until late June, followed by all-star summer competition until near the end of July. Divisions for players in minor baseball begin with t-ball for youngsters born in 2007-08, with a registration fee of $90. Then comes the rookie division for 2006 players at $100. Players born in 2004-05 play in the tadpole league with a cost of $135 and those born 2002-03 are in the mosquito division with a $175 fee. Peewee league registration is $180 for those born 2000-01, while the bantam league is $190 for players born 1998-99, as is the midget division, involving the age group of those born 1995-97. Financial assistance is available for families that need it.

Registration forms are available on the Nanaimo Minor Baseball Association website and can be dropped off at ReAction Sports on Wellington Road. Parents should note, though, that the registration deadline is this coming Thursday (Feb. 28). Any late registrations will require a $20 late fee and players will be placed on a waiting list for teams.

In conjunction with minor baseball, the Nanaimo Pirates premier and junior teams are also being organized for the season ahead. Registration cost for either team, focusing on competitive players born 1995-99, is $250. Open tryouts for both teams were held this weekend at Serauxmen Stadium. Intrasquad games and player selections will be made following subsequent sessions at Serauxmen on March 2-3.

On another baseball note, Level 1 and 2 umpiring clinics have tentatively been scheduled for March 16-17 at the Departure Bay Kin Hut. The clinics will run 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day.

Meanwhile, Nanaimo Breakers Fastpitch Softball (formerly WPVL) is holding in person registration this coming Tuesday (Feb. 26), from 5-8 p.m. at the Oliver Woods Community Centre. All interest softball players aged 4-18 are welcome. Another session will be held during the same times on March 11, or sign-up can be done online at www.nanaimobreakers.com.

Nanaimo and District Minor Fastball is also registering players right now. The largest league in the central Island area involved more than 600 boys and girls ages 4-19 from the Nanaimo area last season. Sign-up is now on for players in seven different age divisions. For the youngest group, a learn-to-play division for those born 2007-08 costs $65, as does the peanuts league for players born 2005-06. For those born 2003-04, the U10 division costs $75. A fee of $105 applies to the U12 (born 2001-02), U14 (born 1999-2000), U16 (born 1997-98) and U19 (born 1994-96) divisions. Uniform deposits and a Softball B.C. fee will also be required.

Registration forms are available at www.nanaimofastball.org and there are also in-person sign-up sessions March 2-3, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. each day at the Beban Park fieldhouse. Registering by March 3 will guarantee a spot, while a late fee of $15 will apply after that deadline.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.

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