Spring Training at The Ball Park of the Palm Beaches

We chat with players from the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals, who will spring train at the new Ball Park of the Palm Beaches.

Palm Beach County just gained a heavy hitter. On February 28, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will open with an inaugural game between its two spring training teams, the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. The new facility occupies 160 acres off 45th Street in West Palm Beach, with the Astros’ turf to the north and the Nationals’ domain to the south. Each team has all the amenities necessary to prepare for the regular season, including six practice fields apiece and batting cages. They’ll share the 6,500-seat stadium, with games scheduled throughout March against the Miami Marlins, the New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox, among others. While The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches will not host a Florida State League team, its off-season won’t be dull. The facility features a 12-acre city park as well as five multipurpose fields and can be rented out for everything from entertainment events to sports tournaments. Below, we get to know a few of our new neighbors from the Nationals and the Astros.

Washington Nationals Pitcher Tanner Roark. Courtesy of the Washington Nationals

Name: Tanner Roark
Age: 30
Hometown: Wilmington, Illinois
Team: Washington Nationals
Position: Pitcher
Years playing with the Nationals: Four
Favorite childhood memory of baseball: Winning two high school baseball championships
Proudest moment of my career: My 15-strikeout game
Most inspiring player of all time: Ken Griffey Jr. I loved the way he played and his swing.
My pre-game rituals: I eat a crunchy peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich. I also avoid stepping on the chalk coming in and out of the dugout.
Biggest baseball pet peeve: Losing
Favorite things about Florida: The warm weather and the beaches
Favorite thing about Washington, D.C.: The fans
Favorite thing about spring training: Joining backup with my teammates and welcoming new teammates into the family
When not playing baseball, you can find me: Playing video games and watching movies
While in West Palm Beach, I want to eat: Seafood, lots and lots of seafood
Activity I want to try while in South Florida: Deep-sea fishing and spearfishing
Beach or pool: Depends…
Flip-flops or sneakers: Flip-flops all day

Washington Nationals Outfielder Adam Eaton. Courtesy of the Washington Nationals

Name: Adam Eaton
Age: 28
Hometown: Springfield, Ohio
Team: 
Washington Nationals
Position: Outfielder
Years playing with the Nationals: This will be my first season.
Favorite childhood memory of baseball: Playing backyard baseball. We actually had a league called the BBL (Backyard Baseball League). We had jerseys and my mom would sing the National Anthem for Opening Day.
Proudest moment of my career: Having my brother, Zack, surprise me on the field before our July Fourth game two years ago. With Zack being in the military, I don’t get to see him as often as I would like to, so it was quite the surprise running out to him before the National Anthem.
Most inspiring player of all time: Yogi Berra. Size doesn’t matter. He had more World Series rings than fingers.
My pre-game rituals: I don’t really have any. I just try to prepare to the best of my ability for that day.
Biggest baseball pet peeve: Not doing everything in your power to win a ball game.
Favorite thing about Florida: The ocean
Favorite thing about Washington, D.C.: The history
Favorite thing about spring training: Being able to play baseball and see family at the same time. During the season, we don’t get to have dinner with our families like most people, so spring training is a nice change of pace.
When not playing baseball, you can find me: At home with my family, usually out on the boat participating in some kind of water sport.
While in West Palm Beach, I want to eat/drink: Seafood, and some kind of drink with an umbrella in it
Activity I want to try while in South Florida: Bass fishing
Beach or pool: Beach
Flip-flops or sneakers: Flip-flops
Factoid few people know about me: I like to play hockey.

Houston Astros Infielder Alex Bregman. Courtesy of the Houston Astros

Name: Alex Bregman
Age: 22
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Team: Houston Astros
Position: Infielder
Years playing with the Astros: One
Proudest moment of my career: My first day back from a hamstring injury when I got a key hit to tie a game against the Chicago Cubs that we ended up winning.
Most inspiring player of all time: Derek Jeter. I always looked up to him and loved his work ethic. He was “the captain.”
My pre-game rituals: If I’m doing well, I’ll do the same routine every day until it stops working. That includes the same breakfast and lunch, putting my socks on the same way—everything.
Biggest baseball pet peeve: I don’t have one. I love everything about the game.
Favorite things about Houston: I love the food and I love Minute Maid Park.
Favorite thing about spring training: Getting back together with my teammates and setting out to work together to reach the same goal.
When not playing baseball, you can find me: Watching sports on TV, mainly football and basketball
Beach or pool: Beach
Flip-flops or sneakers: Flip-flops
Factoid few people know about me: I was a state champion in chess in the sixth grade.

Houston Astros Starting Pitcher Collin McHugh. Courtesy of the Houston Astros

Name: Collin McHugh
Age: 29
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Team: Houston Astros
Position: Starting Pitcher
Years playing with the Astros: Three
Favorite childhood memory of baseball: Making my first All-Star team in the third grade. It was a chance to play on the same team with a lot of my friends for the first time.
Proudest moment of my career: Getting my first Major League win in my first start with the Astros. I didn’t even know I was starting the game until Strommy (Astros pitching coach Brent Strom) told me that morning in the team hotel in Seattle. It was a very special night for me.
Most inspiring player of all time: For baseball in general, it is Jackie Robinson because of what he meant. For me personally, it is Greg Maddux. What he did was really impressive and he had success without throwing very hard, which is an inspiration to me.
My pre-game rituals: I love to eat at Chick-fil-A before games. Right now, I’m into the grilled nuggets.
Biggest baseball pet peeve: When players have bad walkup music. I have strict criteria for what should be deemed worthy of a walkup song.
Favorite thing about Florida: It’s close to home (Atlanta). It’s easy for my family to visit me in spring training since it’s close.
Favorite thing about Houston: It has an amazing food scene. I’ve eaten at a lot of cool places and have met some really cool chefs.
Favorite thing about spring training: Getting away from the sleet in Atlanta and enjoying the warmer weather
When not playing baseball, you can find me: Ideally, playing golf
While in West Palm Beach, I want to eat: At the Palm Beach Grill
Activity I want to try while in South Florida: Surfing
Beach or pool: Beach
Flip-flops or sneakers: Sneakers
Factoid few people know about me: I played the clarinet and tenor sax, and I currently play the ukulele, which I just learned a couple years ago. I’ll bring it with me on road trips sometimes.