Major Leaguers on Craigslist?

<i>The Real Deal asked Mets ballplayers about their (often unfancy) digs during spring training </i>

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R.A. Dickey

Florida’s youngest snowbirds — East Coast Major League Baseball players — make a pilgrimage each year to train among the royal palms. For the New York Mets, that means heading to Port St. Lucie, Fla., which is located beyond the northern tip of Palm Beach.

Most of these players live in New York City during the season, so finding a Florida pad for spring training can be a challenge. To find a comfortable roost, players use all the tools at their disposal, from staying with friends to — yes, that’s right — Craigslist.

“I found my place on Craigslist,” Mets knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey told The Real Deal last month at Digital Domain Park before the team’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals. “That’s how that worked out for me down here for the last two years.”

This year, Dickey said, he rented a three-bedroom home in Port St. Lucie with his family during spring training, which wrapped up late last month.

Real estate agent D.J. Morris finds housing each year for a number of St. Louis Cardinals players while they train in nearby Jupiter. He said players who rent homes in the area typically spend between $2,000 and $3,000 on rentals per month for the spring season.

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For outfielder Scott Hairston, who signed with the Mets in January, the Florida sojourn has been quite an adjustment. Hairston spent the previous seven seasons with West Coast teams that train in Arizona’s Cactus League, so he was able to live in his own home during the spring.

“It’s difficult because sometimes, as a player, you can live in three different places a year,” he said. “But that’s part of the game, part of the lifestyle.”

To find a place in Florida, he asked for recommendations from players who’d spent previous springs in the area. They pointed him to a popular player residence, the Castle Pines Golf Villas community, which is located in the PGA Golf Village. He ended up renting a unit there.

Another new Met, outfielder Willie Harris, also lived at Castle Pines during spring training. He said the formula for finding housing is simple. “The main thing is you just want a roof over your head,” Harris said. “Somewhere close to the ballpark so you can get there, sleep in a little later and get to the ballpark fairly quickly.”