ESPN’s Spring Training coverage begins today with SportsCenter on the Road sponsored by Ford in Surprise, Ariz., with new Sunday Night Baseball analysts Aaron Boone, Jessica Mendoza and reporter Tim Kurkjian covering the defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. The Royals host the New York Mets in a 2015 World Series rematch on Opening Night (April 3, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
This is the first of several stops this trio will have in Arizona; Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech, analysts Eduardo Perez, John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney are reporting from various camps this week in Florida, including the Mets’ camp in Port St. Lucie on Thursday.
Front Row caught up with new Sunday Night Baseball analyst Boone to get his thoughts on Spring Training.
– Aaron Boone on the Royals
What are you hoping to take from visiting the Royals to assist you in calling their Opening Night game on Sunday Night Baseball?
I want to get a feel of watching the World Series Champions when there’s a target on them. They made it to the World Series the year before and now winning one they are the marked team, the team we’re starting our bus tour with. What’s the overall vibe? How hungry does this team still appear?
I’m trying to get a sense of the rotation because I think that’s still the biggest question mark. You think of their athleticism, their base running, the dominant bullpen, but for being a championship team their rotation is kind of ordinary.
What is your favorite Spring Training location in Arizona and why?
I’d say old Scottsdale Stadium where the [San Francisco] Giants play, especially with all the success the Giants’ organization has had, not only in the last 5-6 years, but even going back the last 20-25 years. It’s been a cool spring destination for a lot of people and it has that Old Town Scottsdale charm to it.
What are the most interesting storylines for you heading into Spring Training?
The [Chicago] Cubs are always a story, but now they seem to be one of the huge stories in the game. One of the most raucous and highly attended Spring Trainings is always the Cubs’. It’ll be interesting given where their team is now, having won in the postseason, all the talent and the enormous buzz around them.
I don’t think there’s going to be a lot separating the first place team from the fifth place team in the American League Central and the American League East divisions. Trying to get a handle on where all those teams are going to shake out is something I’m looking forward to.
For more on the SportsCenter on the Road sponsored by Ford Spring Training schedule, visit ESPNMediaZone.