Like any industry, baseball has its own specific jargon, a technical vocabulary that expands the deeper you dive into the game. Spring training brings a lot of these terms to the fore and is thus the perfect time to define them. Think of this as your primer to the whole season, one word at a time.
-- Competition: This is when two or more players have a chance to win a particular roster spot. Players can enhance their chances with impressive statistics during spring training, but statistics aren't even close to the end-all, be-all given how small the sample size is and how volatile the quality of competition can be. A home run off a starting pitcher in the second inning of an exhibition game matters much more than a home run off a Triple-A pitcher in the eighth inning of that same game.
"We like it for spring training," said Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. "We've had years where we haven't had a ton of competition for the team. Some level of competition is healthy. It gives Bobby (Valentine) and the staff a chance to evaluate players in a little bit more legitimate setting. Spring training's not the best time to evaluate players, but when guys are trying to win a job, you're seeing a version of them that's closer to the real thing. There's some merit, some benefit to having a team that's not going through spring training just getting ready for Opening Day, and going through spring training with a purpose, with something at stake. We'll have that this spring, at at least a few different spots."
-- Designate for assignment (DFA): A player is designated for assignment when he is removed from the 40-man roster to make room for a different player. Once a team DFAs a player, it has 10 days to trade him, release him or place him on waivers. If the player clears waivers, he can then be "outrighted" (sent outright) to the minor leagues.
-- Disabled list (15-day): A player that is injured can be replaced by another player if he is placed on the 15-day disabled list. The replacement must either already be on the 40-man roster or must be added to the 40-man roster.
-- Disabled List (60-day): For players who are expected to be out longer than 60 days, the team can replace them temporarily on the 40-man roster.
-- Evaluate: The most commonly used four-syllable verb each spring. Baseball consensus is that evaluations are particularly difficult during spring training given the vast array of circumstances surrounding games and at-bats.
-- Extended spring training: Young players who are not ready for a full-season minor league -- usually recent draftees out of high school or Latin American signees under the age of 20 -- spend the first half of the season working out at a spring training facility before joining a short-season Single-A team. Commonly shortened to "extended," as in, "Ryan Kalish will start the season in 'extended' while he rehabs his shoulder."