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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

MLB capsules: American League teams at start of spring training


Associated Press

A team-by-team look at the American League entering spring training, including key players each club acquired and lost, and dates of the first workout for pitchers and catchers, and the full squad:

EAST
New York Yankees

Manager: Joe Girardi (third season).
2009: 103-59, first place, World Series champions.
Training Town: Tampa, Fla.
Park: George M. Steinbrenner Field.
First Workout: Feb. 18/ Feb. 24.
Hes Here: 1B-DH Nick Johnson, CF Curtis Granderson, OF Randy Winn, OF Marcus Thames, OF Jaime Hoffman, RHP Javier Vazquez, LHP Boone Logan.
Hes Outta Here: LF Johnny Damon, DH Hideki Matsui, OF Melky Cabrera, OF-INF Eric Hinske, OF Xavier Nady, OF-INF Jerry Hairston Jr., RHP Brian Bruney and LHP Phil Coke.
What To Watch For: The Yankees won their first World Series title since 2000 and used an active offseason to set themselves up for a run at a repeat while keeping the payroll around $200 million. They reacquired Vazquez, hoping he will take some of the pressure off CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and 37-year-old Andy Pettitte. One of the most intriguing early issues will be the roles of young pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes who starts, who relieves? The Yankees didnt bring back the popular and productive Damon or World Series MVP Matsui, but they added Granderson and Johnson. Granderson could improve upon his career-best 30 homers in longball crazy Yankee Stadium, where a major league-leading 237 home runs were hit in the first season in the ballpark. Can Alex Rodriguez stay healthy after hip surgery last spring and stick to his keep-it-simple approach and remain out of the tabloids? Captain Derek Jeter is in the final year of his $189 million, 10-year contract.

Boston Red Sox
Manager: Terry Francona (seventh season).
2009: 95-67, second place, wild card, lost in divisional round.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Fla.
Park: City of Palms Park.
First Workout: Feb. 20/Feb. 24.
Hes Here: RHP John Lackey, 3B Adrian Beltre, SS Marco Scutaro, CF Mike Cameron, OF Jeremy Hermida, RHP Boof Bonser, INF-OF Bill Hall.
Hes Outta Here: LF Jason Bay, SS Alex Gonzalez, INF Nick Green, OF Rocco Baldelli, 1B Casey Kotchman, RHP Takashi Saito, LHP Billy Wagner, RHP Paul Byrd, C George Kottaras.
What To Watch For: Can DH David Ortiz rebound after hitting just .238 with 28 homers? After a season in which he was out of shape and ineffective, RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka worked hard and could give Boston a fourth outstanding starter behind Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Lackey. How will Jacoby Ellsbury handle his shift to left field to make room for Cameron in center? What will happen with 3B Mike Lowell, who was headed to Texas in a trade before a thumb injury derailed the deal? The Red Sox are hoping their offseason emphasis on pitching and defense will help make up for the loss in free agency of Bay, who led them with 36 homers.

Tampa Bay Rays
Manager: Joe Maddon (fifth season).
2009: 84-78, third Place.
Training Town: Port Charlotte, Fla.
Park: Mosaic Field at Charlotte Sports Park.
First Workout: Feb. 19/24.
Hes Here: RHP Rafael Soriano, C Kelly Shoppach, 1B Dan Johnson.
Hes Outta Here: 2B Akinori Iwamura, OF Gabe Gross, LHP Brian Shouse, RHP Chad Bradford, C Gregg Zaun.
What To Watch For: The top offseason priority was strengthening the bullpen. The addition of Soriano does that, filling the need for a closer. All-Star Ben Zobrist started games at seven different positions in 2009, but enters camp as the projected regular second baseman with Iwamura gone. That leaves right field up for grabs. Maddon filled it by platoon last season, and may do the same this year with Matt Joyce, Gabe Kapler and, perhaps, Zobrist sharing time. With catcher Dioner Navarro coming off a disappointing season, the acquisition of Shoppach creates competition there.

Toronto Blue Jays
Manager: Cito Gaston (third season).
2009: 75-87, fourth place.
Training Town: Dunedin, Fla.
Park: Dunedin Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 22/Feb. 26.
Hes Here: C John Buck, SS Alex Gonzalez, RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Zech Zinicola.
Hes Outta Here: C Rod Barajas, C Michael Barrett, RHP Roy Halladay, INF Joe Inglett, RHP Brandon League, DH-1B Kevin Millar, SS Marco Scutaro.
What To Watch For: The December trade that sent ace Halladay to Philadelphia left a huge hole at the top of Torontos rotation, but new general manager Alex Anthopoulos has plenty of young arms on the way. RHP Shaun Marcum is healthy again after missing all of 2009 following Tommy John surgery. RHP Dustin McGowan, sidelined by knee and shoulder injuries since 2008, recently resumed throwing from the mound. LHP Ricky Romero won 13 games as a rookie last season while fellow rookie southpaw Marc Rzepczynski impressed by recording a 3.67 ERA in his 11 starts. OF prospect Travis Snider started strong in 2009 but was back at Triple-A by midseason and will have to impress during spring training to win a spot on the opening-day roster. Righties Gregg and Jason Frasor will compete with LHP Scott Downs to win the closers job.

Baltimore Orioles
Manager: Dave Trembley (fourth season).
2009: 64-98, last place.
Training Town: Sarasota, Fla.
Park: Ed Smith Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
Hes Here: 3B Miguel Tejada, INF Garrett Atkins, LHP Michael Gonzalez, RHP Kevin Millwood.
Hes Outta Here: 3B Melvin Mora, RHP Danys Baez, RHP Brian Bass, RHP Chris Ray, LHP Chris Waters.
What To Watch For: The Orioles have switched spring training facilities and replaced their corner infielders, moves designed to help the team end a run of 12 straight losing seasons. By training in Sarasota instead of Fort Lauderdale, the Orioles now have their major leaguers and minor leaguers at the same facility. That should help Trembley get a better grasp of the entire system. He will also keep an eye on Tejadas move to third base from shortstop, and hopes to find out early whether Atkins can regroup from a dismal 2009 season with Colorado.

CENTRAL
Minnesota Twins

Manager: Ron Gardenhire (ninth season).
2008: 87-76, first place, lost in divisional round.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Fla.
Park: Hammond Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 21/Feb. 26.
Hes Here: SS J.J. Hardy, 2B Orlando Hudson, PH-DH Jim Thome, RHP Clay Condrey.
Hes Outta Here: SS Orlando Cabrera, 3B Joe Crede, CF Carlos Gomez, C Mike Redmond.
What To Watch For: After losing to the Yankees in the divisional playoffs, the Twins pushed their payroll near $95 million in an attempt to close the talent gap for their first season at the open-air Target Field. The Twins made moves to shore up the middle infield adding Hardy and Hudson, and signed the 39-year-old Thome as a much-needed threat off the bench. A long-term extension for C Joe Mauer, who is entering the final year of a four-year, $33 million deal, could be finalized before the season starts. RHP Kevin Slowey (wrist) and Nick Punto (wrist), returning from injuries, could provide a boost. But the Twins did little to address their starting rotation and are still looking for a true No. 1 starter. They retained RHP Carl Pavano, but are hoping that LHP Francisco Liriano can reach the level he had before he having Tommy John surgery two years ago.

Detroit Tigers
Manager: Jim Leyland (fifth season).
2009: 86-77, second place.
Training Town: Lakeland, Fla.
Park: Bright House Field.
First Workout: Feb. 19/Feb. 23.
Hes Here: RHP Jose Valverde, RHP Max Scherzer, 2B Scott Sizemore, OF Austin Jackson, LHP Daniel Schlereth, LHP Phil Coke.
Hes Outta Here: OF Curtis Granderson, 2B Placido Polanco, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Brandon Lyon.
What To Watch For: Detroit desperately needs two young players to quickly turn potential into production, counting on Sizemore and Jackson to contribute regularly even though neither has played an inning in the majors. Sizemore had surgery on his broken left ankle in late October. The Tigers hope fireballing reliever Joel Zumaya can finally stay healthy to be the setup man he was during the 2006 AL championship season. Detroit is banking on Jeremy Bonderman to bounce back from injuries to be the No. 4 starter and would be thrilled if Dontrelle Willis became at least a viable candidate to fill the fifth spot.

Chicago White Sox
Manager: Ozzie Guillen (seventh season).
2009: 79-83, third place.
Training Town: Phoenix, Ariz.
Park: Camelback Ranch.
First Workout: Feb. 21/Feb. 26.
Hes Here: 3B Mark Teahen, OF Juan Pierre, OF Andruw Jones, INF Omar Vizquel, RHP J.J. Putz.
Hes Outta Here: RF Jermaine Dye, OF Scott Podsednik, OF Dewayne Wise, 2B Chris Getz, INF Josh Fields, RHP D.J. Carrasco, RHP Octavio Dotel.
What To Watch For: Guillen will use a rotating DH system that puts an emphasis on speed for production as much as home runs. To make room at third for Teahen, the Sox moved last years rookie standout, Gordon Beckham, to second base counting college, his third position in three seasons. The Sox need Carlos Quentin, whos moving from left to right, to stay healthy. And CF Alex Rios, who struggled after being picked up on waivers last season, must give the White Sox the pop theyll be missing with the departure of Dye. Can Mark Buehrle have a strong second half after faltering following his perfect game on July 23? Is Jake Peavy ready, after an injury-shortened season, to return to ace form?

Cleveland Indians
Manager: Manny Acta (first season).
2009: 65-97, tied for last place.
Training Town: Goodyear, Ariz.
Park: Goodyear Ballpark.
First Workout: Feb. 23/Feb. 26.
Hes Here: C Mike Redmond, OF Shelley Duncan, OF Austin Kearns, INF Mark Grudzielanek.
Hes Outta Here: C Victor Martinez, LHP Cliff Lee, OF Ben Francisco, INF Mark DeRosa, INF Jamey Carroll, C Kelly Shoppach, P Carl Pavano.
What To Watch For: Acta, fired last year by Washington, takes over the Indians, who have done little in the offseason to bolster their roster. Clevelands starting rotation, once a strength for the team, is under reconstruction. For the Indians to contend, Jake Westbrook must bounce back from elbow surgery and Fausto Carmona needs to get back to the form that made him a 19-game winner in 2007. OF Grady Sizemore underwent offseason elbow surgery but has been cleared for full activities. OF Michael Brantley (.313 average in 28 games last season) is an emerging star and should win the starting job in left field. It may be tough for the club to keep C Carlos Santana off opening-day roster if he has a hot spring. Plan is for him to begin season at Triple-A Columbus.

Kansas City Royals
Manager: Trey Hillman (third season).
2009: 65-97, tied for last place.
Training Town: Surprise, Ariz.
Park: Surprise Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 22.
Hes Here: C Jason Kendall, OF Brian Anderson, OF Rick Ankiel, INF Chris Getz, INF Josh Fields, OF Scott Podsednik.
Hes Outta Here: LHP John Bale, RHP Doug Waechter, RHP Jamey Wright, RHP Yasuhiko Yabuta, C John Buck, C Miguel Olivo, INF Luis Hernandez, INF Tug Hulett, 1F Mike Jacobs, INF Mark Teahen, OF Josh Anderson, OF Coco Crisp.
What To Watch For: The Royals have three young players any team in the majors would covet RHP Zack Greinke, 1B Billy Butler and closer Joakim Soria. Any rotation that starts with Cy Young winner Greinke has a chance to be good. Addition of veteran Kendall should address glaring defensive problems behind the plate and give boost to the entire staff. If Ankiel provides stability in center field and Getz upgrades horrid second base defense, the Royals could improve. In two years as manager, Hillman has never finished above last place. Continued mediocrity could test the fans patience.

WEST
Los Angeles Angels

Manager: Mike Scioscia (11th season).
2009: 97-65, first place, lost in ALCS.
Training Town: Tempe, Ariz.
Park: Bright Tempe Diablo Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
Hes Here: DH Hideki Matsui, RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP Fernando Rodney.
Hes Outta Here: RHP John Lackey, INF Chone Figgins, OF Vladimir Guerrero, OF Gary Matthews Jr.
What To Watch For: Scioscia believes Pineiro is a good fit to fill the hole created by Lackeys departure for Boston and help the Angels maintain their success after six straight winning seasons that included five playoff appearances. Pineiro joins a rotation featuring holdovers Jered Weaver, Joe Saunders, Scott Kazmir and Ervin Santana. The 31-year-old right-hander was 15-12 with a 3.49 ERA last year for the St. Louis Cardinals, his best season since going 16-11 for Seattle in 2003. The Angels showed little interest in retaining Guerrero, who had two stints on the disabled list last season and turns 35 next month. They signed World Series MVP Matsui to replace him as the primary DH and kept Bobby Abreu with a $19 million, two-year contract.

Texas Rangers
Manager: Ron Washington (fourth season).
2009: 87-75, second place.
Training Town: Surprise, Ariz.
Park: Surprise Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 19/Feb. 24.
Hes Here: OF-DH Vladimir Guerrero, RHP Rich Harden, RHP Colby Lewis, INF Kahlil Greene, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Chris Ray.
Hes Outta Here: OF Marlon Byrd, RHP Kevin Millwood, C Ivan Rodriguez, INF Hank Blalock, DH Andruw Jones, INF Omar Vizquel, LHP Eddie Guardado, LHP Jason Grilli.
What To Watch For: The Rangers traded the durable Millwood to clear payroll space, then signed injury plagued free agent Harden to take over the No. 1 spot in the rotation. Harden averaged 9.35 strikeouts per nine innings the past seven seasons, but also went on the disabled list seven times the past five years. The Rangers plan to give RHP Neftali Feliz, the 21-year-old with a 100 mph fastball, a shot at making the rotation. Feliz had a 1.74 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 31 innings during 20 relief appearances after being called up in August. Left-handed reliever C.J. Wilson could also get a chance for a rotation spot. Texas needs slugger Josh Hamilton to stay healthy. He was limited to 89 games last season because of injuries. The sale of the Rangers from financially strapped owner Tom Hicks to a group headed by Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, the team president, could be completed by opening day.

Seattle Mariners
Manager: Don Wakamatsu (second season).
2009: 85-77, third place.
Training Town: Peoria, Ariz.
Park: Peoria Sports Complex.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
Hes Here: LHP Cliff Lee, 3B Chone Figgins, OF Milton Bradley, 1B Casey Kotchman, RHP Brandon League, OF Eric Byrnes, 1B-DH Ryan Garko.
Hes Outta Here: 3B Adrian Beltre, 1B Russell Branyan, C Kenji Johjima, DH-1B, Mike Sweeney, OF Bill Hall, INF Jack Hannahan, RHP Brandon Morrow, RHP Chris Jakubauskas, RHP Miguel Batista, RHP Carlos Silva, RHP Randy Messenger.
What To Watch For: The reloaded Mariners still have issues to fix before they can contend for their first playoff spot since 2001. A catcher must emerge to handle a stellar pitching staff that now has co-aces Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. The team is impressed with how starter Rob Johnson calls games, but he will be limited into March following three operations this winter. Johnson has just over a year in the majors, but thats more than any other catcher on the roster. Clubhouse leader Ken Griffey Jr. will be counted on to help control the volatile Bradley. But can Griffey be a productive, full-time DH at age 40 and following knee operations the last two winters? Three or more starters are vying for the final two spots in the rotation: Ian Snell, Doug Fister, Jason Vargas and perhaps even Erik Bedard, if he can get healthy by summer following shoulder surgery last summer.

Oakland Athletics
Manager: Bob Geren (fourth season).
2009: 75-87, last place.
Training Town: Phoenix.
Park: Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 21/Feb. 26.
Hes Here: RHP Ben Sheets, OF Coco Crisp, 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, INF Jake Fox, INF Adam Rosales, OF Gabe Gross.
Hes Outta Here: INF Bobby Crosby, INF Nomar Garciaparra, INF Adam Kennedy, RHP Brett Tomko, RHP Santiago Casilla, OF Aaron Cunningham, OF Scott Hairston, OF Willy Taveras.
What To Watch For: The health of Sheets and RHP Justin Duchscherer. The two former All-Stars spent all of last season on the disabled list. They will be counted on to strengthen a rotation that featured rookie starters in 116 games last season.