NEW YORK YANKEES
MANAGER: Joe Girardi (sixth season)
2012: 95-67, first place, lost in ALCS
TRAINING TOWN: Tampa, Fla.
PARK: George M. Steinbrenner Field
FIRST WORKOUT: Wednesday/Feb. 18
HE’S HERE: 3B Kevin Youkilis, DH Travis Hafner, OF Matt Diaz, C Bobby Wilson, DH-OF Juan Rivera
HE’S OUTTA HERE: RF Nick Swisher, C Russell Martin, DH-OF Raul Ibanez, 3B Eric Chavez, OF Andruw Jones, RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP Freddy Garcia, LHP Pedro Feliciano
GOING CAMPIN’: The Yankees enter spring training with more uncertainty than they’ve had in a long time. The Tigers exposed them as old and brittle in a four-game ALCS sweep after the Orioles took New York to five games in the division series. Then, the Yankees did little to get younger in the off-season. Hoping to get below the threshold for an increased luxury tax next year, they refrained from completing any big deals, making the re-signing of starting pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte a top priority. The popular Martin left for a free-agent contract with Pittsburgh – leaving the job at catcher this season to career backups Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. New York’s biggest signings were Youkilis, to fill in for Alex Rodriguez, who will be out at least until the All-Star break following hip surgery, and Hafner, to supplant Ibanez at DH. Both need to stay healthy because much of New York’s hope rides on stars coming off surgery. Mariano Rivera (knee), Derek Jeter (foot) and CC Sabathia (elbow) are expected to be ready for the season but Michael Pineda (shoulder) could be sidelined until late June. Even if everyone is healthy, it remains to be seen how much the loss of Swisher’s patient bat and clubhouse leadership will be missed and how much Rodriguez’s latest off-field scandal affects the team in a reloaded AL East. Other question marks: Is Brett Gardner’s elbow fully healed after he missed nearly all of last season? Can Ichiro Suzuki, at 39, play at the same level as he did when he came to New York in a summer trade (.322, 14 SBs) and help lead a lineup that will rely much less on the long ball this year? Will Ivan Nova return to his 2011 form when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA instead of the 12-8 record and 5.02 ERA he had last season, when he was dumped from the rotation?
MANAGER: Buck Showalter (third full season)
2012: 93-69, second place, wild card, lost division series
TRAINING TOWN: Sarasota, Fla.
PARK: Ed Smith Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Friday
HE’S HERE: 1B Travis Ishikawa. INF Danny Valencia, 2B Alexi Casilla, RHP Jair Jurrjens, INF-OF Yamaico Navarro, OF Trayvon Robinson
HE’S OUTTA HERE: 1B Mark Reynolds, LHP Joe Saunders, 2B Robert Andino, OF Endy Chavez, OF Bill Hall, DH Nick Johnson, INF Omar Quintanilla, DH Jim Thome, LHP Randy Wolf
GOING CAMPIN’: After their most successful season in 15 years, the Orioles did very little over the winter. Their most significant off-season move was re-signing free agent outfielder Nate McLouth, but that hardly makes up for the loss of free agents Reynolds and Saunders. Vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette hopes playing a pat hand, with a few possible additions in the spring and during the season, will be enough to get the team back to the playoffs for a second straight year. McLouth, for instance, was a late pickup who proved to be a key component after he took over for injured right fielder Nick Markakis in the latter part of the season. Duquette and Showalter are counting on a deep pitching staff to compensate for the loss of the hit-or-miss Reynolds, who had plenty of power and drew a slew of walks but struck out at an alarming rate. Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez are favorites to top the rotation, and Jake Arrieta, Jurrjens, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz intend to add their names to the list. Plenty of question marks surround this team, most notably at second base, where injury-prone, 35-year-old Brian Roberts will seek to stick around for more than a handful of games. McLouth and Nolan Reimold, who missed most of the season with a neck injury, fortify an outfield that features Adam Jones and Markakis.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
MANAGER: Joe Maddon (eighth season)
2012: 90-72, third place
TRAINING TOWN: Port Charlotte, Fla.
PARK: Charlotte Sports Park
FIRST WORKOUT: Wednesday/Feb. 17
HE’S HERE: 1B James Loney, SS Yunel Escobar, OF Shelley Duncan, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Roberto Hernandez, OF Wil Myers, INF-OF Kelly Johnson
HE’S OUTTA HERE: RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, OF B.J. Upton, 1B Carlos Pena, RHP Burke Badenhop, LHP J.P. Howell, 2B Jeff Keppinger, OF Ben Francisco
GOING CAMPIN’: With right-handers Shields and Davis dealt to Kansas City in an off-season trade that landed one of baseball’s top young minor league prospects in the 22-year-old Myers, an outfielder, the Rays enter spring training with openings in both the starting rotation and bullpen. But the hottest topic of discussion will be the health of three-time All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, who appeared in just 74 games a year ago due to a partially torn left hamstring. The slugger signed a $136.6 million, 10-year deal that added six seasons and $100 million to his contract this winter, when he also underwent minor hamstring surgery. Tampa Bay went 47-27 with their star in the starting lineup last season, compared to 41-44 without Longoria, who batted .289 with 17 homers and 55 RBI. Hard-throwing left-hander David Price led the AL in wins (20) and ERA (2.56) en route to winning the Cy Young Award in his third full season in the majors. He will be counted on even more with Shields, the franchise’s career leader in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts, now in Kansas City. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson and lefty Matt Moore figure to retain spots in the rotation, with the remaining slots filled from among a talented group that includes right-handers Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Jeff Niemann. Closer Fernando Rodney returns after posting a club-record and career-high 48 saves while setting a major league record for a reliever working a minimum of 50 innings with a 0.60 ERA. The Rays re-signed setup man Joel Peralta, but will have to fill slots vacated by Davis, Badenhop and Howell. The Rays remained in contention for a playoff berth until the final series of 2012, primarily because of strong pitching. Questions persist about the offense, although a healthy and productive Longoria could ease some of the concern. Loney was signed as a free agent to replace first baseman Carlos Pena’s sputtering bat, Escobar could team with Ryan Roberts, a midseason acquisition from Arizona last season, to give the Rays a regular shortstop and second base combination, thus freeing Ben Zobrist to play primarily in right field.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
MANAGER: John Gibbons (first season)
2012: 73-89, fourth place
TRAINING TOWN: Dunedin, Fla.
PARK: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Wednesday/Feb. 17
HE’S HERE: SS Jose Reyes, RHP R.A. Dickey, RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, OF Melky Cabrera, INF Maicer Izturis, C Josh Thole, C Mike Nickeas, C Henry Blanco, OF-INF Emilio Bonifacio, INF Mark DeRosa
HE’S OUTTA HERE: Manager John Farrell, C John Buck, SS Yunel Escobar, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, RHP Carlos Villaneuva, 2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Jason Frasor, RHP Sam Dyson
GOING CAMPIN’: Determined to end their playoff drought at 20 years, the Blue Jays wheeled and dealed in the off-season, acquiring Dickey, the NL Cy Young Award winner, and Reyes, Buehrle and Johnson, all former All-Stars, in trades with the Mets and Marlins. Toronto also inked Cabrera, the All-Star game MVP who served a 50-game drug suspension last season, to a free-agent contract. GM Alex Anthopoulos hired Gibbons to return for his second stint as manager when Farrell was traded to Boston to take the Red Sox job. Gibbons will have a deep, new-look rotation led by the knuckleballing Dickey. The Blue Jays gave up two top prospects, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and right-hander Noah Syndergaard, in the deal for the 20-game winner. A staff that was devastated by injuries last year will get back reliever Sergio Santos (shoulder surgery), but Gibbons has said Casey Janssen, who had 22 saves in Santos’ absence, will begin as the closer. Janssen had off-season shoulder surgery but is expected to be ready for opening day. The dynamic Reyes and Cabrera, who was leading the NL with a .346 batting average when he was suspended, plan to provide plenty of RBI opportunities for sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, who had wrist surgery in September. If the Blue Jays are going to have a chance to return to the postseason for first time since winning their second straight World Series title in 1993, they will have to stay healthy. Reyes has a history of leg problems and playing on turf might not help. Dickey is 38 and pitched a career-high 233 2-3 innings last season.
BOSTON RED SOX
MANAGER: John Farrell (first season)
2012: 69-93, last place
TRAINING TOWN: Fort Myers, Fla.
PARK: JetBlue Park
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Feb. 15
HE’S HERE: 1B Mike Napoli, SS Stephen Drew, CF Shane Victorino, SP Ryan Dempster, OF Jonny Gomes, RHP Joel Hanrahan, C David Ross
HE’S OUTTA HERE: Manager Bobby Valentine, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka, RF Cody Ross, SS Mike Aviles, 1B James Loney, OF Scott Podsednik, RP Vicente Padilla, RP Scott Atchison
GOING CAMPIN’: The Red Sox have a chance to start fresh after Valentine’s one tumultuous season left them in last place in the AL East. Gone are Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford in an August salary dump that cleared more than $250 million from the books. The Red Sox did not make any big deals to replace them, instead making a series of smaller moves that included signing Napoli and Victorino. They will need the starting pitching to bounce back – including John Lackey, who missed all of last season after right elbow surgery. Former Augusta GreenJacket Jon Lester (9-14, 4.82 ERA) and Clay Buchholz (11-8, 4.56) are also looking to improve with the return of Farrell, their former pitching coach. Gomes and Victorino join an outfield that can be strong if Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been injured two of the past three seasons, is healthy. Drew, who is believed to be a placeholder for prospect Jose Iglesias, and Will Middlebrooks take over the left side of the infield, with Dustin Pedroia returning at second base and Napoli at first. Hanrahan would give them a closer they lacked last year after Jonathan Papelbon left for free agency and Andrew Bailey was injured.
MANAGER: Jim Leyland (eighth season)
2012: 88-74, first place, lost World Series
TRAINING TOWN: Lakeland, Fla.
PARK: Joker Marchant Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Friday
HE’S HERE: OF Torii Hunter, 2B Jeff Kobernus, LHP Kyle Lobstein, C Brayan Pena
HE’S OUTTA HERE: C Gerald Laird, OF Ryan Raburn, LHP Daniel Schlereth, RHP Jose Valverde, DH Delmon Young
GOING CAMPIN’: The defending AL champions kept all their top players. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, ace Justin Verlander and slugger Prince Fielder are back to help Detroit try for a third consecutive AL Central title. The Tigers even spent big money to keep RHP Anibal Sanchez in the rotation instead of losing him to free agency. The Tigers also added Hunter to play right field, and they hope designated hitter Victor Martinez can be productive after the 2012 season with a knee injury. Although much of the lineup is already set, there will be some competition in camp. Detroit has six starting pitchers, so if there’s no trade, RHP Rick Porcello and LHP Drew Smyly will vie for the last rotation spot. It will also be interesting to see if RHP Bruce Rondon is ready to take over the closer role after impressing in the minors. If not, Leyland might need to mix and match late in games. Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch and Quintin Berry are candidates to play left field. Berry stole 21 bases without being caught last year – he and center fielder Austin Jackson were the team’s only real speed threats. Nobody doubts the quality of Detroit’s front-line talent, but the Tigers could use a bounce-back season from shortstop Jhonny Peralta and a better defensive performance all around if they’re going to win the division comfortably. Last season, Detroit didn’t overtake the Chicago White Sox until late. After acquiring Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante from Miami at midseason, Detroit will enjoy having both those players from the start this year. Sanchez in particular adds depth to an already impressive rotation that includes Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
MANAGER: Robin Ventura (second season)
2012: 85-77, second place
TRAINING TOWN: Glendale, Ariz.
PARK: Camelback Ranch
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Feb. 17
HE’S HERE: 3B Jeff Keppinger, RHP Matt Lindstrom, 1B Lars Anderson, RHP Zach Stewart
HE’S OUTTA HERE: C A.J. Pierzynski, 3B Kevin Youkilis, RHP Brett Myers, SS Jose Lopez
GOING CAMPIN’: The White Sox spent 117 days in first place last season, only to finish three games behind Detroit in the AL Central after a late fade. Now, they believe they are poised to challenge for the division crown. Never mind that there were no splashy acquisitions, that the biggest moves were keeping Jake Peavy and shuffling the front office. They promoted Rick Hahn to general manager and Ken Williams to executive vice president. The roster? Well, it’s largely intact, with one notable exception. Pierzynski, one of the final links to the 2005 championship team, is gone. One reason the White Sox let the veteran catcher sign a one-year contract with Texas was because they believe Tyler Flowers is ready to take over behind the plate. He’s shown he can field. The question is, can he hit? Another reason the White Sox split with Pierzynski is they wanted to re-sign Peavy after he bounced back from three injury-riddled seasons. With Peavy and Chris Sale leading a deep rotation and what looks like a solid bullpen behind them, the White Sox believe they have one of the American League’s best staffs. After finishing fourth in the AL in runs and third in homers last season, the White Sox could also have an imposing lineup led by Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios if Dayan Viciedo and former Georgia Bulldog Gordon Beckham mature at the plate. They are short on left-handed bats at the moment, though.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS
MANAGER: Ned Yost (third season)
2012: 72-90, third place
TRAINING TOWN: Surprise, Ariz.
PARK: Surprise Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Friday
HE’S HERE: RHP Ervin Santana, RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis, OF Xavier Nady, LHP George Sherrill, OF Endy Chavez
HE’S OUTTA HERE: INF Yuniesky Betancourt, LHP Jonathan Sanchez, RHP Jonathan Broxton.
GOING CAMPIN’: The Royals could have an entirely new starting rotation from the start of last season. They re-signed Jeremy Guthrie, who went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA after a midseason trade with Colorado, to a three-year, $25 million deal. They then made a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for Ervin Santana, who is owed $13 million this season. But the biggest move of the off-season was when the Royals dealt top prospect Wil Myers and promising pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery to the Tampa Bay Rays for Shields, a former All-Star, and Davis. Shields was 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA last season, while Davis will be transitioning back to the rotation after spending last season in the bullpen, where he was 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA. The fifth spot in the rotation might be the most intriguing battle of spring training. Veteran left-hander Bruce Chen, former No. 1 overall draft pick Luke Hochevar and several others will be competing for the job. The rest of the lineup returns almost entirely intact, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of questions. 1B Eric Hosmer batted just .232 with 14 homers and 60 RBI last season, and 3B Mike Moustakas hit .242 with 20 homers and 73 RBI. The Royals will need more out of their corner infielders if they’re going to compete with Detroit and Cleveland in the AL Central. C Salvador Perez and DH Billy Butler had big years, and the outfield of Gold Glove-winner Alex Gordon in left, Lorenzo Cain in center and Jeff Francoeur in right returns intact. The lone position battle should be 2B, where Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella will get the longest looks. If everyone plays up to expectations, the Royals could be a .500 club for the first time since 2003, and perhaps keep a weary fan base interested past May.
MANAGER: Terry Francona (first season)
2012: 68-94, fourth place
TRAINING TOWN: Goodyear, Ariz.
PARK: Goodyear Ballpark
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Friday
HE’S HERE: OF Nick Swisher, RHP Brett Myers, 1B-DH Mark Reynolds, OF Drew Stubbs, INF Mike Aviles, RHP Trevor Bauer, LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Matt Capps, OF Ben Francisco
HE’S OUTTA HERE: Manager Manny Acta, OF Shin-Soo Choo, DH Travis Hafner, INF Jason Donald, RHP Roberto Hernandez, 3B Jack Hannahan, LHP Tony Sipp, OF Shelley Duncan, 1B Casey Kotchman, OF Grady Sizemore, LHP Rafael Perez, RHP Jeanmar Gomez
GOING CAMPIN’: Francona returns rejuvenated after a one-year stint as a broadcaster following eight seasons in Boston, where he helped the Red Sox end The Curse and win two World Series. The 53-year-old said Cleveland was the only job he would have taken, and his hiring has provided a huge boost for the Indians and their fans, still reeling from the team’s stunning collapse – the Indians went 5-24 in August – last season. Without Francona, Cleveland would have never landed a quality free agent like Swisher, a 20-homer, 90-RBI guy who signed a four-year, $56 million contract after the Indians tugged on his Ohio State ties to bring him “home.” Swisher will take over in right field for Choo, sent to Cincinnati for Stubbs, a .241 career hitter who has to cut down his strikeouts. Stubbs will likely play center field, moving Michael Brantley to left. One of Francona’s priorities will be to keep closer Chris Perez concentrated solely on the strike zone. Perez had 39 saves last season, but he was too often a distraction, either criticizing Cleveland’s fans for lack of support or questioning moves by the front office. All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera faded in the second half – .233 average in July/August – and must be consistent for the Indians to close the gap in the AL Central. Switch-hitting catcher Carlos Santana has 30-homer potential, but needs to improve his skills behind the plate. Second baseman Jason Kipnis could be on the verge of breakout season. He hit .257 and led the Indians with 76 RBIs and 31 steals in his first full year in the majors. Lonnie Chisenhall, whose 2012 season was sabotaged by a broken arm, will open as the starter at third. Cleveland’s hopes, though, will hinge on a suspect starting rotation led by Justin Masterson (11-15) and Ubaldo Jimenez (9-17), who must both bounce back from disappointing seasons. Myers will take the third spot with Bauer, the No. 3 overall pick in 2011, and as many as six others battling this spring for the other two.
MANAGER: Ron Gardenhire (12th season)
2012: 66-96, fifth place
TRAINING TOWN: Ft. Myers, Fla.
PARK: Hammond, Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Wednesday/Saturday
HE’S HERE: RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Vance Worley, RHP Kevin Correia
HE’S OUTTA HERE: OF Denard Span, OF Ben Revere, RHP Scott Baker, LHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Carl Pavano, INF Alexi Casilla, RHP Matt Capps
GOING CAMPIN’: The Twins are used to defying the big-market teams and contending in the AL, but they have finished in last place in the Central division in each of the past two years. Injuries plagued them in 2011 and dreadful starting pitching was the culprit in 2012. With that in mind, the Twins have overhauled their rotation. LHP Scott Diamond is the only holdover from last season who is assured a spot in the rotation. But the Twins have taken a similar approach to addressing the problems as they did a year ago, by bringing over several pitchers from the NL to see if they can keep up with the deeper lineups in the AL. Pelfrey is coming off elbow-reconstruction surgery after being a solid but sometimes frustrating pitcher for the Mets, Worley was underwhelming with the Phillies last year and Correia was demoted to the bullpen in Pittsburgh, leaving many to wonder if those moves will turn out to be upgrades. Offense shouldn’t be a problem, with Joe Mauer bouncing back to regain his All-Star form, Justin Morneau healthier than he has been in years and Josh Willingham coming off a career season. The primary spot to look at this spring will be center field. In an effort to upgrade their farm system, the Twins traded established center fielders Span and Revere for promising pitching prospects. That leaves a hole in center and at the top of the order. They’re hoping Aaron Hicks, a prized prospect in the organization, will be able to handle the duties despite never playing in Triple-A. If he’s not ready, light-hitting Darin Mastroianni is the front-runner for the job. Either way, the Twins seem to be a year away from contending again, which is not what Mauer and Morneau want to hear.
MANAGER: Bob Melvin (third season)
2012: 94-68, first place, lost in division series
TRAINING TOWN: Phoenix
PARK: Phoenix Municipal Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Feb. 17
HE’S HERE: OF Chris Young, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima, C John Jaso, INF Jed Lowrie, RHP Fernando Rodriguez
HE’S OUTTA HERE: RHP Brandon McCarthy, SS Stephen Drew, OF Jonny Gomes, SS Cliff Pennington, 3B Brandon Inge, C George Kottaras, RHP Tyson Ross, OF Collin Cowgill, RHP Jim Miller, 1B Chris Carter
GOING CAMPIN’: The low-budget A’s came out of nowhere last season to beat out big spenders Texas and the Los Angeles Angels and win the AL West title on the final day of the season. Oakland will have a hard time taking teams by surprise again, but they might have more talent on this seasons’ roster with the additions of Young and Japanese import Nakajima. A full season from lefty Brett Anderson and the return of right-hander Bartolo Colon after finishing his 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test should help make up for the loss of McCarthy. Oakland is also counting on an even bigger year from Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes in his second season in the majors. The key will be whether the bullpen led by closer Grant Balfour and setup men Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle can match last year’s success and rookie starters Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone avoid sophomore slumps.
MANAGER: Ron Washington (seventh season)
2012: 93-69, second place, lost wild-card game
TRAINING TOWN: Surprise, Ariz.
PARK: Surprise Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Wednesday/Saturday
HE’S HERE: DH-1B Lance Berkman, RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Joakim Soria, C A.J. Pierzynski, hitting coach Dave Magadan
HE’S OUTTA HERE: OF Josh Hamilton, INF Michael Young, C Mike Napoli, RHP Koji Uehara, RHP Mike Adams, RHP Scott Feldman
GOING CAMPIN’: There are significant changes with the off-season departures of Hamilton, a five-time All-Star and 2010 AL MVP, Napoli and Young, the franchise’s career hits leader and longest-tenured player before being traded to Philadelphia. After consecutive World Series appearances, Texas didn’t even win a playoff game last October, losing the AL’s first one-and-done wild-card playoff after going 4-9 down the stretch and losing the AL West title on the last day of the regular season. A big question mark this spring is whether RF Nelson Cruz, going into the final year of his contract, will face a 50-game suspension after being among several players named in a Miami News Times story alleging the purchase of banned performance-enhancing drugs. Until told differently, the Rangers plan for Cruz to remain their everyday right fielder. But top infield prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt, who made their big league debuts last season, are among players who could get a look in the outfield this spring. While many will view this off-season as a failure for the Rangers – who didn’t re-sign Hamilton, lost out in their pursuit of top pitching free agent Zack Greinke and couldn’t work out a trade for OF Justin Upton – general manager Jon Daniels’ only concern is what happens during the season and he genuinely likes their chances. Especially with a solid starting rotation fronted by Yu Darvish, the Japanese ace who won 16 games as a major league rookie, and Matt Harrison, the lefty who got a $55 million, five-year contract extension after winning 18 games in an All-Star season. Who will set up closer Joe Nathan after Adams and Uehara left in free agency? Offensively, the switch-hitting Berkman was considering retirement after being limited last year to 32 games for St. Louis (surgery twice on right knee), but as the primary DH will add some versatility to a lineup filled with right-handers. With Hamilton gone, David Murphy finally goes into camp considered the everyday left fielder while Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin, the speedy Cuban defector who got a $15.5 million, five-year deal nearly two years ago, likely split time in center.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS
MANAGER: Mike Scioscia (14th season)
2012: 89-73, third place
TRAINING TOWN: Tempe, Ariz.
PARK: Tempe Diablo Stadium
FIRST WORKOUT: Tuesday/Friday
HE’S HERE: OF Josh Hamilton, RHP Tommy Hanson, RHP Ryan Madson, LHP Jason Vargas, RHP Joe Blanton, LHP Sean Burnett, LHP Brandon Sisk, INF Bill Hall
HE’S OUTTA HERE: OF Torii Hunter, RHP Zack Greinke, 1B Kendrys Morales, RHP Dan Haren, RHP Ervin Santana, C Bobby Wilson, INF Maicer Izturis, RHP Jordan Walden, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Jason Isringhausen.
GOING CAMPIN’: Hamilton is the Angels’ latest eye-catching prize from free agency, but he’s just one part of a significant makeover of a good team that wasn’t quite good enough last year. Los Angeles won more games than AL champion Detroit in 2012, yet still missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season – a first under Scioscia. Right after the Angels decided not to spend the money to keep Greinke, they signed a similarly enormous check for Hamilton, who defected from Texas to join the Rangers’ most consistent divisional rival. Hamilton’s fearsome bat joins a lineup already featuring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. The Angels also reconfigured their rotation in a shuffle of proven veteran pitchers, losing Greinke and jettisoning Haren and Santana after their inconsistent 2012 efforts while acquiring Vargas, Hanson and Blanton to pitch behind ace Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson. Los Angeles also is banking on long-injured Ryan Madson to become its new closer, although Ernesto Frieri is still around if he falters. The Angels’ changes came at a price: Along with losing Greinke as a short-term rental, they’ll return to camp without Hunter after the veteran slugger and their unofficial team captain was allowed to leave for the Tigers. Morales was traded to Seattle for Vargas, clearing more consistent playing time for Trumbo. And the Angels are still stuck with underachieving Vernon Wells, who has two years left on his lavish contract. Yet it’s tough to dislike Los Angeles’ potent lineup, with the AL Rookie of the Year (Trout) setting the table for former MVPs in Pujols and Hamilton. And for all of their off-season machinations, the Angels managed to keep hold of promising OF Peter Bourjos.
MANAGER: Eric Wedge (third season)
2012: 75-87, fourth place
TRAINING TOWN: Peoria, Ariz.
PARK: Peoria Sports Complex
FIRST WORKOUT: Wednesday/Saturday
HE’S HERE: OF-DH Michael Morse, 1B-DH Kendrys Morales, OF-DH Raul Ibanez, OF-DH Jason Bay, C Kelly Shoppach, INF Robert Andino
HE’S OUTTA HERE: LHP Jason Vargas, C Miguel Olivo, C John Jaso, INF Munenori Kawasaki, INF Chone Figgins, RHP Shawn Kelley
GOING CAMPIN’: Seattle tried to upgrade its offense in the off-season, but was forced to do so through trades after failing to land free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton. Acquiring Morales cost Seattle the No. 2 pitcher in its rotation with Vargas going back to the Angels, but it helped solidify the Mariners’ designated hitter role. Before he broke his ankle in 2010, Morales hit 34 homers and finished fifth in AL MVP voting. Coupled with the addition of Morse – from Washington – Seattle’s offense instantly should get an upgrade from where it stood the past three years when it was the worst in baseball. One big debate to settle during spring training is what happens at first base. Is Justin Smoak out of chances to be an everyday starter or can he parlay a strong close to 2012 into solidifying a role in the linuep? Seattle’s offseason moves give it versatility to find a replacement for Smoak if he can’t produce, but the Mariners would like to see the young switch-hitter win the job. Also to be determined is how playing time breaks down, especially in left field. Depending on how they perform in camp, Bay and Ibanez could make the decision even more difficult. Second baseman Dustin Ackley and shortstop Brendan Ryan will begin spring training coming off operations for injuries that impeded their offensive production in 2012. Ackley’s drop-off was noticeable but Wedge remains confident his young second baseman will eventually be an elite hitter. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez will try and get through spring training healthy for the first time in three years. Seattle’s bullpen is solid, but the rotation remains a question after ace Felix Hernandez, who was working on a $175 million, seven-year contract with the Mariners that would make him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball. With Vargas gone, Hisashi Iwakuma becomes Seattle’s prospective No. 2 in the rotation, with Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez and Hector Noesi likely slotting in behind the duo. Seattle is still high on its big three of young prospects James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen, but any of the three would have to be dominant this spring to start the season in the majors.
MANAGER: Bo Porter (first season)
2012: 55-107, sixth place, NL Central
TRAINING TOWN: Kissimmee, Fla.
FIRST WORKOUT: Monday/Friday
HE’S HERE: 1B-DH Carlos Pena, RHP Jose Veras, RHP Philip Humber, 1B Chris Carter, RHP Brad Peacock
HE’S OUTTA HERE: Manager Brad Mills, SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Wilton Lopez, OF Jordan Schafer, C Chris Snyder, RHP Fernando Rodriguez
GOING CAMPIN’: Porter, the former Nationals third base coach, takes over a team which has finished last in the majors in each of the last two seasons. The Astros will try to avoid becoming the first team to lose at least 106 games in three consecutive seasons since the expansion Mets did it from 1962-65. It won’t be easy for a team with just five players on the 40-man roster with more than two years of major league experience and the league’s lowest payroll. Plus, they’ll have to deal with the transition of moving from the NL Central to the powerful AL West. Their only major off-season move was the addition of aging slugger Carlos Pena, who can play first base, but is expected to be the team’s first full-time designated hitter. The 34-year-old is one of only three players on the 40-man roster who is 30 or older. They also signed reliever Jose Veras, who had a 3.63 ERA in 72 appearances for Milwaukee last season, and Philip Humber, who threw a perfect game for the White Sox in 2012 but finished the year with a 6.44 ERA. The team avoided arbitration with Bud Norris by agreeing to a one-year, $3 million contract. The 27-year-old right-hander is the highest paid player on the team with a payroll of about $25 million. Houston continued slashing its payroll last week when it traded veteran shortstop Jed Lowrie to Oakland. The Astros are looking for Tyler Greene and Marwin Gonzalez, who both saw action last season when Lowrie was injured, to compete for the job. Houston needs second baseman Jose Altuve to build on a solid 2012 season where he hit .290 and was named an NL All-Star. The Astros were also encouraged by the performance of 29-year-old outfielder Justin Maxwell, who hit 18 home runs in his first full season in the majors after playing portions of three seasons with the Nationals. General manager Jeff Luhnow believes the Astros added power to their lineup with the recent addition of Carter, who hit 16 home runs with 39 RBI in 67 games last season for the Nationals.
– Associated Press