Discuss as:

Major League Baseball's spring training gets under way

David J. Phillip / AP

Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward catches a ball during a spring training workout on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, in Kissimmee, Fla.

Steve Nesius / Reuters

New York Yankees pitchers run during a workout at the team's spring training complex at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 15.

A blue, undefinable sadness settles into me every February. I can almost feel it like an ache deep in my bones. It has a lot to do with the weather. The warm days of last summer are a distant memory, and even the good spirits of the holidays are starting to fade.

However, then the pictures from the first week of spring training come along, I’m reminded that soon a day will come when I’ll be able to sit in the sunshine, with a bag of sunflower seeds clutched in one hand and a cold drink in the other, as I cheer for our team when the players run onto the field.

That thought is all I need to get me to spring.

 

From SpringTrainingOnline.com:

Spring training is almost as old as baseball itself. The best evidence points to spring training first taking place in 1870, when the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings held organized baseball camps in New Orleans. Other baseball historians argue that the Washington Capitals of the National League pioneered spring training in 1888, holding a four-day camp in Jacksonville, Fl.

By 1900, spring-training was firmly established as a baseball ritual, with most American and National League teams heading out of town so players could train and managers could evaluate. Small Florida and Arizona communities were suddenly known across the nation because of the allure provided by major-league baseball.

Fred Thornhill / Reuters

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey does push-ups as catcher Josh Thole offers encouragement at the team's spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., on Thursday, Feb. 14.

Chris O'Meara / AP

Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell hits a ball to the infield during a workout on Friday, Feb. 15 in Fort Myers, Fla.

David J. Phillip / AP

Atlanta Braves outfielder Jason Heyward signs autographs for fans before a workout on Friday, Feb. 15, in Kissimmee, Fla.

Chris O'Meara / AP

Minnesota Twins pitching coach Ron Anderson watches as Glen Perkins throws during a spring training workout on Friday, Feb. 15 in Fort Myers, Fla.

See more MLB coverage at NBCSports.com

Sign up for the NBCNews.com Photos Newsletter