Intriguing incidents kick off spring training

Man, where do we begin?

Tommy Hanson appears to be OK after an early-morning accident on his way to camp. Moneyball mastermind Billy Beane reached out to supposed PED abuser Manny Ramirez in the form of a minor-league deal that no one knows for sure he'll be in any shape or care enough when his 50-game suspension is over. The Yankees finally got tired of dealing with A.J. Burnett that they shipped him to the Pirates for a pair of low-level minor leaguers. Former Augusta Pirate Tim Wakefield and his knuckleball retired after a 19-year career that saw him win 200 games.

That's a lot to digest until you see that the Nationals are going to limit Stephen Strasburg to 150-160 innings; Yankee great Mariano Rivera (you have no idea how hard that was for me to type) says he has an idea if 2012 is it for him. If it is, the end of the road for the closer, give him a standing ovation, salute him for a job well done and then get ready for the biggest party in five years when Cooperstown opens its doors for the all-time saves leader. And Albert Pujols says he has no regrets leaving St. Louis -- yeah a $200 million-plus contract will do that to a person.

Just over a week in, you can already tell there will be plenty of intrigue as the year progresses.

POWER RANKINGS: So much was said when the Angels signed Pujols and C.J. Wilson and Prince Fielder sign with Detroit that teams like the Yankees and Red Sox will have a lot to deal with this year. With that said, here's a quick top 5/bottom 5, spring training edition.

American League

1. Detroit Tigers: Yes the Rangers are the two-time AL champs but with a formidable rotation behind Justin Verlander and a lineup that includes Prince and Miguel Cabrera, it's going to be hard to beat them this year.

2. Texas Rangers: The rotation might not be the same without Wilson, but the offense is going to score enough runs to make visitors to Arlington cringe.

3. N.Y. Yankees: It's kinda sad when the rotation is better with Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia at the end of it.

4. Boston Red Sox: There's no way Carl Crawford repeats 2011.

5. L.A. Angels: Pujols makes an average lineup better but will it be enough in the AL West?

...

11. Minnesota Twins; 12. Chicago White Sox; 13. Baltimore Orioles; 14. Seattle Mariners.

National League

1. Arizona Diamondbacks: Honestly, the only reason they're No. 1 is because Ryan Howard is injured.

2. Philadelphia Phillies: They'll be fine unless Howard takes longer to recover from his injury.

3. Cincinnati Reds: The lineup is just too dangerous in that ballpark not to succeed.

4. St. Louis Cardinals: Yes, Pujols is gone. Yes, they're going to be just fine.

5. Atlanta Braves: No major changes makes me nervous but Fredi Gonzalez will make it work ... right?

...

13. Pittsburgh Pirates; 14. San Diego Padres; 15. N.Y. Mets; 16. Houston Astros.

ANOTHER PLUG: This is the last week to vote for the finalists for MLB's Fan Cave. You can view the 50 finalists at www.mlbfancave, and again, for what it's worth, my votes go to Jay Tuohey, Sam Springli, Amie Matthews, Michael Heidner, Ricky Mast, Emily Szink, and Ally Williams.

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Billy Byler
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Billy Byler 02/21/12 - 03:51 pm
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On behalf of all Indians fans

On behalf of all Indians fans everywhere, thanks for not ranking Cleveland near the bottom of the AL... yet.

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