BRADENTON (AP) - Country music superstar Garth Brooks will end his baseball retirement and spend just over a week participating in spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He will report Monday with the pitchers and catchers, but his workouts do not actually begin until Thursday.
“As a celebrity, they haven’t cut me yet, so we’ll see,” Brooks said with a laugh after taking ground balls at third base and fly balls in the outfield. “You’ve got to use your advantages, you know. Before you could crowd the plate all you want because nobody wanted to hit you. You haven’t got speed. You haven’t got fielding. You haven’t got hitting. So, use the other thing you’ve got.”
Brooks previously was apart of camps with the San Diego Padres (1999), New York Mets (2000) and Kansas City Royals (2004). Brooks is making a brief return to the sport to mark the 20th anniversary of the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation which has gone on to raise over $100 million for children’s charities by pairing children with professional athletes.
The Pirates did not announce Brooks would be joining the team for spring training until Monday morning to make it a surprise for his new teammates.
“I went out to take some fly balls and the guy didn’t look familiar,” left fielder Corey Dickerson said. “Then it hit me. It’s really cool. My brother and I grew up listening to his music and I’m looking forward to having a chance to talk with him.”