Spring Training is always an exciting time for baseball fans. It's a new start for franchises, fanbases, and for players. There are players looking for their first crack at Major League Baseball, players trying to get one more year out of their career, and players who are trying to find fresh life with new clubs.

A pair of MLB players from the Shreveport area are both looking for a fresh start in Spring Training this year. One with a new team, and one actually returning to the same team he ended last year with.

First, the player on a new team. That would be new Kansas City Royals' starting pitcher Seth Lugo.

Chicago Cubs v Kansas City Royals
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Lugo played his high school baseball at Parkway in Bossier City, before playing college baseball at Centenary College in Shreveport. He broke into the majors with the New York Mets, where he spent the first 7 years of his MLB career. Lugo spent last season with the San Diego Padres.

While with the Mets, Lugo pitched 494 total innings, splitting time between starting games and coming out of the bullpen. He won 32 games for the franchise, and collected 16 saves. Last year with the Padres, Lugo was exclusively a starting pitcher. Starting 26 games, winning 8 of them, and throwing 146 innings. His performance was good enough that Lugo opted out of his Padres contract, and hit free agency.

Lugo was given a 3-year, $45 million deal from the Kansas City Royals after he opted out.

Now, in Spring Training with the Royals, Lugo is getting a fresh start with the franchise. While he was in San Diego, the team was spending massive amounts of cash to try and win a championship. That brought a lot of attention and pressure to a franchise that isn't used to it. In Kansas City, the Royals have won the World Series within the last decade, but there is definitely less pressure surrounding the team. This might give Lugo the environment he needs to thrive.

Looking at another franchise where the pressure is ratcheted up to the highest degree, you will find our other Shreveport area player. Taijuan Walker is looking to dust off the controversy surrounding the end of last season as he starts Spring Training with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Wild Card Series - Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Walker was born in Shreveport, but played his high school baseball in California. He was drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners, and bounced around baseball a little bit. He's spent different parts of his career with 5 different franchises. Last year he landed in Philadelphia, and had a great season.

In 2023, Walker won 15 games for the Phillies, which led the team in wins. But it was the way the postseason went for Walker that led to the controversy. Even though Walker was one of the team's best pitchers in the regular season, he never made an appearance in the playoffs for the Phillies. The team ended up losing the National League Championship Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks, with Walker on the bench.

This brought on a social media post that let everyone know what Walker was thinking...

But based on reports coming out of Phillies' Spring Training, Walker is leaving the past in the past. Telling reporters about the post he made, and what he was feeling about the end of last year, saying:

"You know, it was the playoffs. Everyone wants to pitch in the playoffs. I was ready and then didn’t get my opportunity. But a lot of that is on me, too. I was inconsistent. My velocity wasn’t there. So, I thought I felt good going into the playoffs, but you never know what you’re going to get, and it’s do or die every game."

Walker would continue with the conversation, and describe the post as "dramatic" and "overblown". But he made it clear that he's excited to be back, and ready to compete again this year.

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