Orioles to host annual Sarasota Springfest for the public on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Sarasota

Fans to have opportunities to play catch on Ed Smith Stadium field and to attend Q&A session with 2017 American League Rookie of Year Finalist Trey Mancini

Image courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles are inviting fans of all ages to celebrate the start of Spring Training by attending Sarasota Springfest, a free family-friendly event that will be held at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, Feb. 17.

Along with watching Orioles pitchers and catchers practice on the backfields, fans may enjoy games and interactive activities in the stadium from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., a news release says.

Additionally, the third annual Sarasota Springfest event will feature a question-and-answer session with 2017 American League Rookie of the Year Finalist Trey Mancini, the release notes. That will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Further, for the first time this year, fans will have opportunities to play catch on the Ed Smith Stadium field, take a behind-the-scenes tour of the ballpark and participate in a “Pitch for Charity” event that not only will benefit All Faiths Food Bank but also will include prizes, the release points out.

“This year’s Springfest will be bigger and better than ever as we bring the fun and fans into the ballpark for even more activities,” said David Rovine, vice President of Orioles-Sarasota, in the release.

Mancini, who grew up in Winter Haven, just 90 miles north of Sarasota, had a breakout rookie season in 2017, the release points out. The 25-year-old outfielder tied for the team’s highest batting average and led all Major League Baseball rookies in hits, despite switching positions at the Major League level, the release notes.

MASNsports.com beat writer Roch Kubatko will emcee the Q&A session, the release says.

Image courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles

Field conditions permitting, two sessions of Have A Catch will be offered on the main field, at approximately 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., the release explains. Access will be first-come, first-served,” it adds, “and participants must bring their own gloves and sign a liability waiver.”

“We want to encourage parents, children and fans of all ages to have fun on the same field used by the Orioles during Spring Training games,” Rovine said in the release. “Being able to play catch on a Major League ball field is a rare experience for fans, and we’re excited to provide that opportunity.”

Orioles event staff will provide stadium tours every 20 minutes beginning at 10 a.m., the release continues. Fans will see areas not usually open to the public, including the press box, World Series Suites, Home Plate Suite, Third Base Lounge and the visiting team’s clubhouse, the release notes.

Pitch for Charity is scheduled for approximately noon at the Left Field Pavilion, the release says. Fans may purchase balls, ranging in price from $3 to $10, at the event entrance and then test their skills by pitching from the Pavilion into a target on the main field. All proceeds will support All Faiths Food Bank, “an organization that focuses on providing healthy solutions to end hunger in the Sarasota community,” the release points out. Fans also can earn Orioles-themed prizes, based on their pitching accuracy.

Additional games will be set up to test fans’ skills at baseball and a variety of sports, the release continues. Among other activities will be corn hole games, a giant Connect Four, face painting and a photo booth provided by Magic Mirror SRQ. Local partners Sarasota County Parks and Recreation and SunCoast Blood Bank will participate in the event.

Springfest also will feature vendors serving up a variety of food, the release says: “Jimmy’s Famous Seafood will return with award-winning crab cakes inspired by Baltimore’s popular seafood restaurant. Ballpark fare will be offered at the concourse concession, and Craving Donuts will serve breakfast items at the back fields.”

Access to Springfest will be through the Left Field Gate, adjacent to the East Lot at the intersection of 12th Street and Tuttle Avenue in Sarasota, where free parking will be provided. Guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult, the release notes. For more information, fans may visit www.orioles.com/springfest.

Additionally, fans are invited to watch Orioles workouts on the backfields at the complex each day from Feb. 14 through Feb. 22, from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the release says. The first full squad workout will be held on Monday, Feb. 19. Attendance is free, and parking in the East Lot is free.

The Orioles will play their first of 16 home Spring Training games in 2018 at Ed Smith Stadium on Friday, Feb. 23, at 1:05 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Rays, the release points out. Tickets are available at www.orioles.com/spring and at the Ed Smith Stadium box office each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.