The hard work behind the Cardinals' defense of their World Series championship begins in Jupiter, Fla., now their Spring Training home for 10 years following more than 50 in St. Petersburg.
If you're planning to head down to beautiful Palm Beach County to catch the Redbirds in person, here are some suggestions for making the most of your trip:When do the Cardinals arrive at camp?
Pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 14, and start working out the next day. Report day for position players is Feb. 19, and they begin workouts on Feb. 20. When do games start?
The first competition is Feb. 26, when the Cardinals take on Florida Atlantic University, though you shouldn't expect to see too many regulars in that game. The first Grapefruit League game is Feb. 28, when they host the Marlins, their co-tenant at Roger Dean Stadium. Most of the Cards' games take place either at Roger Dean Stadium or within an hour's drive. Fort Lauderdale, home of the Orioles, is about 45 minutes south, and Port St. Lucie and the Mets are about 40 minutes north. Plus, the Cardinals have four "road" games against the Marlins. How do I get tickets?
Tickets can be purchased online, by phone -- 314-421-4400 (Missouri), 618-222-2900 (Illinois) or 561-966-3309 (Florida) and at the Roger Dean Stadium box office. Tickets may also be purchased at local Ticketmaster outlets including Streetside Records, Famous Barr, Tucker's, The Blue Note and select Schnucks Video Clubs.
To order tickets by mail, fans should send a check, money order, Visa, MasterCard or American Express number, including $5 for handling charge, to the following address: Roger Dean Stadium Ticket Office, 4751 Main Street, Jupiter, FL 33458. Tickets may not be purchased at the Busch Stadium ticket office or at the usual St. Louis-area locations.Prices are as follows: $24 for field box seats, $22 for loge box, $10 for bleachers, $10 for berm seating (sold day of game only) and $6 for standing room. There is an additional $1 charge per ticket for Saturday and Sunday home games. Where is Jupiter, and how do I get there?
The closest major airport to Jupiter is Palm Beach International, located in West Palm Beach. That's about 20 minutes south of Jupiter, and it's not a bad drive at all. You may be able to find more flights in and out of Fort Lauderdale International, which is a bigger airport but farther away. Jupiter is located in northern Palm Beach County, and if you're looking at hotels, nearby cities are Palm Beach Gardens and Juno Beach. Roger Dean Stadium is located within a planned community called Abacoa, which is located right off I-95 at the Donald Ross Road exit.
How can I watch the team work out?
Before the games begin, you can come out to the back fields on the Cardinals' side of the complex and watch workouts on any of the six fields of play. Fans can get fairly close to the morning workouts, and often you can buy a soda or a hot dog out on the fields.
The first tip is simple but important: Understand that even during Spring Training, these guys are working. So if somebody doesn't step out of the batting line to sign your program, it doesn't mean he's a bad guy, and it doesn't mean he won't sign later. With that said, your best bets are when the players are leaving the practice fields and heading in to the locker room, and when they're taking the field in the stadium. Seats in right field, near the Cardinals bullpen, can be good places for autographs. What else is there to do in Jupiter?
There's more and more every year -- it's a booming area. Food is definitely a strength of the region, with excellent Italian, steak and, of course, seafood restaurants. Two favorites are the Reef Grill and Nick's Tomatoe Pie. There's shopping in West Palm Beach at CityPlace, which is a brief ride down the road. And, of course, there's the beach, which is never a bad idea on Florida's Atlantic coast. When do the Cardinals open the regular season?
After meeting the Indians in the inaugural Civil Rights Game on March 31 in Memphis, Tenn., the Cards head home to Busch Stadium on April 1, when they host the Mets in a nationally televised NLCS rematch at 7:05 p.m. CT.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.