Springtime is when the Valley comes alive, both literally and figuratively, from cactus blooms to the Cactus League. There’s no shortage of things to see, do and eat – and plenty of ways to burn off those extra calories. Make the most of Arizona’s high season with this handy blueprint.
2023 World Baseball Classic
Spring training isn’t the only place you can get your spring baseball fix. In March, the Valley will host an initial round of baseball’s version of the World Cup. Five countries will go head-to-head over five days, preceded by a warm-up spate of exhibition games with MLB teams. Chase Field, 401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, mlb.com/world-baseball-classic
WBC Team Breakdown
National teams from the U.S., Canada, Colombia, Great Britain and Mexico will take the mound in Phoenix, and the top two teams will move on to the next round. Get to know the teams.
The reigning champion’s all-star lineup make it a strong contender entering the classic.
Player to watch: Three-time MVP and Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout has eschewed the classic in the past to focus on his pro commitments. He’ll make his first appearance on the national team as its captain.
Game dates: March 11 (v. Great Britain), March 12 (v. Mexico), March 13 (v. Canada), March 15 (v. Colombia)
There’s been a strong push in Canada to field a team that can make it past the first round. Though the squad has historically lacked depth, there’s plenty of star power that could surprise.
Player to watch: One of most decorated first basemen in MLB, Los Angeles Dodgers star Freddie Freeman, aims to be a difference-maker for Canada with his bat and fielding.
Game dates: March 12 (v. Great Britain), March 13 (v. USA), March 14 (v. Colombia), March 15 (v. Mexico)
Colombia made its first appearance at the classic in 2017, but didn’t advance past the first round. Skipper Luis Urueta, a former D-backs player and coach, has his work cut out for him in this competitive pool.
Player to watch: Southpaw pitcher José Quintana has been one of the most underrated in the MLB and could have drifted into obscurity after battling injuries during the 2020-21 season. 2022 was a return to form, and you can see him pitch before he suits up for the New York Mets.
Game dates: March 11 (v. Mexico), March 13 (v. Great Britain), March 14 (v. Canada), March 15 (v. USA)
Team Great Britain
With the expansion to 20 teams, the country known more for cricket and that other football is stepping up to the plate with its first berth in the baseball classic.
Player to watch: There are plenty of MLB prospects to watch on this roster, especially catcher Harry Ford. The Seattle Mariners minor leaguer was a standout in the classic qualifiers, hitting .455 with three home runs and eight RBIs.
Game dates: March 11 (v. USA), March 12 (v. Canada), March 13 (v. Colombia), March 14 (v Mexico)
Ranked fifth in the world, Mexico is looking to go further than it has during the last two classics, when the team was bounced after the first round.
Player to watch: Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Julio Urías is one of the most impactful aces in the majors, ticking 37 wins over the last two seasons and posting a 2.16 ERA in 2022 – a National League best.
Game dates: March 11 (v. Colombia), March 12 (v. USA), March 14 (v. Great Britain), March 15 (v. Canada)
Did you know?
The British team won the inaugural Baseball World Cup in 1938, but World War II disrupted growth of the sport, and it never recovered. The national team didn’t qualify for another world appearance until 2009.
Spanish beisbolismo: Homerun translates to cuadrangular, but you’ll also hear fans and announcers yell jonrón!
Billy’s Place Hike for Hope
Grief can take many twists and turns, and Billy’s Place has helped families navigate the loss of a loved one since 2012. Take a self-guided hike, meet the community and hold a therapy animal as part of this day of hope and healing. Copper Hills Church, 27035 N. Black Rock Blvd., Peoria, billysplace.me/events
Rugged Maniac Race
Some folks just need to take it up a notch when they work out. This race – part mud run, part obstacle course – is for those people. Over the 3.1-mile course, racers will tackle more than 25 obstacles, including a three-story waterslide. With a “muddy back guarantee,” you’ll be looking forward to snagging that finisher race tee. Bell Bank Park, 1 Legacy Dr., Mesa, ruggedmaniac.com/events/phoenix
Arizonans fondly remember Pat Tillman as the promising Arizona Cardinals safety who stepped away from football to serve as an Army Ranger and tragically lost his life to friendly fire – and his legacy lives on through his eponymous foundation. Pat’s Run honors Tillman’s life, leadership and time as a Sun Devil, covering 4.2 miles through Tempe in honor of the number he wore for Arizona State. Tempe, pattillmanfoundation.org/pats-run
Phoenix Mercury Home Opener
The Mercury will face the Chicago Sky in their home opener, starting a three-game homestand. The team has made a league-best 10 consecutive playoff appearances, and they’ll be on their way to an 11th if they re-sign key free agents like Brittney Griner, the standout center who made headlines after her detention in Russia and release through a prisoner swap in December 2022. Footprint Center, 201 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, mercury.wnba.com