By Stewart McKenzie, CBS 11 News

If you’re ready for Texas Rangers baseball and can’t wait for Opening Day on April 6th against the Chicago White Sox, Arizona is your next play.

Pitchers and catchers report for camp in Surprise, Arizona, on Wednesday, February 22nd. Position players follow on that Saturday. The first team workout is Sunday.

In 2003, Texas moved the franchise’s spring training headquarters from the beaches of Florida to the cacti in Arizona. They share Spring Training facilities with Kansas City. The stadium seats 10,500 people.

The first spring training game will be against the Royals on March 4th. Ticket prices range from $7 to sit on the outfield lawn to $25 near home plate.

If you want to see the Rangers play on March 17th and 18th, you’ll have to go to Las Vegas. The Rangers will play the Chicago Cubs that weekend in Nevada.

Some key Spring Training home games to consider: Texas plays the Los Angeles Angels, who added Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the off-season, on March 24th. The Rangers take on Oakland A’s, who just signed Manny Ramirez, on March 15th.

During Spring Training, the Rangers will play the Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, L.A. Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants in Surprise.

Fans can see teams and players who normally don’t visit Rangers Ballpark in Arlington because they are in the National League.

Also, who do you want to see? If you want to see the established veterans play most of the game, wait to go until the end of Spring Training. During the first part of Spring Training, the veterans will play a couple of innings. The rookies and rising Minor League players usually get more of the playing time during the first games of Spring Training.

This year’s camp will have some extra buzz with the Rangers trying for back-to-back-to-back A.L. Championships. And Yu Darvish mania will be in full swing as a contingent of media from Japan is expected to follow the star pitcher during his first season as a Major Leaguer.

What you need to know if you go:

Surprise is about 25 miles northwest of Phoenix. From Sky Harbor Airport near downtown Phoenix, it will take you about 45 minutes, by car, to get to the complex.

Besides the baseball field, there are six practice fields within walking distance of the stadium. The team usually holds individual pitching sessions and drills on those fields. There are some bleachers available for fans to watch the practice.

If you go to a game at the stadium in Surprise, check out the batting cages on the first base side of the stadium. Fans can get within about fifteen feet of some of the players, separated by two fences, and watch the Rangers take batting practice and get pointers from coaches. For fans of the mechanics of the game, it is fascinating to watch the practice sessions.

Driving directions (from the Texas Rangers website):
From Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport: Go west on I-10 to Route 101 North. Take 101 North to the Bell Road exit. Go left on Bell Road for 5-6 miles and the Surprise Recreation Campus will be on the left.

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