This winter has felt especially long.  But finally, after four and a half months without Royals baseball, the team is set to check into Surprise this afternoon as the first wave – the pitchers and catchers – report for duty.

While there are always a number of positional battles in every camp, I think the attention will be mostly on the pitchers – specifically the relief corps.  There are a ton of young arms on the roster, and a number of those young arms will be expected to contribute meaningful (for the Royals) innings this summer.

Of course, it is spring training, so any feelings of enthusiasm or optimism you may have should be tempered by the reality that March stats and performance should be taken ever so lightly.  Remember Aaron Crow and his spring from a year ago.  Then counter that with his regular season.  Ying and yang.  It happens.

Still, this is one of the best days of the year, if only because we are one step closer to meaningful baseball.

With that in mind, what positional battles are you looking forward to this spring?  What young arms will you be watching?

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Just in case you missed it, yesterday Nick and I took over the main Sweet Spot blog on the baseball page at ESPN.

Nick led off with a look at the Jackie Robinson Award.

Then I followed with my take on the possibility Albert Pujols crosses the state to play for the Royals.  I also wrote about the late Chuck Tanner and how he arrived in Pittsburgh.

If you’re hungry for more baseball coverage, check those out.