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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 13, 2010

MLB capsules: National League teams at start of spring training

Associated Press

A team-by-team look at the National 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:

Philadelphia Phillies

Manager: Charlie Manuel (sixth season).
2009: 93-69, first place, NL champions.
Training Town: Clearwater, Fla.
Park: Bright House Field.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
He’s Here: RHP Roy Halladay, 3B Placido Polanco, RHP Danys Baez, RHP Jose Contreras, C Brian Schneider, INF Juan Castro, OF Ross Gload.
He’s Outta Here: LHP Cliff Lee, 3B Pedro Feliz, RHP Pedro Martinez, RHP Chan Ho Park, LHP Scott Eyre, OF Matt Stairs, RHP Clay Condrey, RHP Tyler Walker, C Paul Bako, INF Eric Bruntlett.
What To Watch For: Can closer Brad Lidge return to his 2008 form after a disastrous season, and will setup man J.C. Romero bounce back after an injury-plagued year? Lidge had minor surgery on his right elbow and knee in the offseason. Romero had surgery on his left forearm. Barring injuries, all the regular positions are locked up and the only roster spots up for grabs are in the bullpen. Also, there will be competition for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Kyle Kendrick and veteran Jamie Moyer, recovering from abdominal surgery, are the leading candidates.
Florida Marlins
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez (fourth season).
2009: 87-75, second place.
Training Town: Jupiter, Fla.
Park: Roger Dean Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 20/Feb. 24.
He’s Here: RHP Derrick Turnbow, RHP Jose Veras, RHP Seth McClung, INF Danny Richar, INF Jorge Jimenez.
He’s Outta Here: 1B Nick Johnson, RF Jeremy Hermida, RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHP Kiko Calero, CF Alfredo Amezaga, 1B Ross Gload.
What To Watch For: The Marlins are set at the top of the rotation with Josh Johnson, who signed a $39 million, four-year contract in January, and RHP Ricky Nolasco. The battle for the other three spots will be the focus of spring training, with the Marlins hoping for improvement from youngsters Chris Volstad and Andrew Miller. The biggest position battle will be at 1B between prospects Gaby Sanchez and Logan Morrison. There’s also a lot of sorting out to do in the bullpen. CF Cameron Maybin again will be given a chance to win a starting job, and the middle of the order is set with the return of 2B Dan Uggla, 3B Jorge Cantu and OF Cody Ross.
Atlanta Braves
Manager: Bobby Cox (21st season of current tenure, 25th with Braves overall).
2009: 86-76, third place.
Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.
Park: Cracker Jack Stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.
First Workout: Feb. 20/Feb. 23.
He’s Here: OF Melky Cabrera, 1B Troy Glaus, OF/INF Eric Hinske, RHP Takashi Saito, LHP Billy Wagner.
He’s Outta Here: OF Garret Anderson, OF Ryan Church, LHP Mike Gonzalez, 2B Kelly Johnson, 1B Adam LaRoche, RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP Javier Vazquez.
What To Watch For: Cox says Jason Heyward, a 2007 first-round pick who rose from Class A to Triple-A last year, has a chance to win the starting job in right field. The 20-year-old has been called baseball’s top prospect by Baseball America and MLB.com, and could add much-needed power to the outfield mix with Nate McLouth, Matt Diaz and the newly acquired Cabrera. Jordan Schafer, who opened last season as the starter in center field, could re-emerge with a strong spring.
New York Mets
Manager: Jerry Manuel (second full season).
2009: 70-92, fourth place.
Training Town: Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Park: Tradition Field.
First Workout: Feb. 20/Feb. 25.
He’s Here: LF Jason Bay, OF Gary Matthews Jr., RHP Kelvim Escobar, INF/OF Frank Catalanotto, C Henry Blanco, C Chris Coste, RHP R.A. Dickey, RHP Ryota Igarashi, 1B Mike Hessman, 1B Mike Jacobs, LHP Hisanori Takahashi, C Shawn Riggans.
He’s Outta Here: 1B Carlos Delgado, OF Gary Sheffield, RHP J.J. Putz, C Brian Schneider, RHP Brian Stokes, LHP Ken Takahashi, OF Cory Sullivan, OF Jeremy Reed, RHP Tim Redding, RHP Lance Broadway.
What To Watch For: Who’s healthy? The Mets were riddled with injuries last year, and All-Star center fielder Carlos Beltran is expected to miss part of the regular season after undergoing right knee surgery in January. Angel Pagan and Matthews, acquired in a trade with the Angels, will get most of the time in center while Beltran is out. New York hit just 95 homers last year, 49 at home in its first season at Citi Field, so power is a concern. Bay will help, but the Mets also need 3B David Wright to return to form. Wright had 10 homers last season after hitting a career-high 33 in 2008. General manager Omar Minaya also could decide to bring back Delgado if 1B Daniel Murphy struggles this spring. The other big questions for the Mets are in the rotation, where RHP Mike Pelfrey and LHP Oliver Perez struggled last season, and the No. 5 spot is an open competition likely to come down to LHP Jonathon Niese and RHPs Fernando Nieve and Bobby Parnell.
Washington Nationals
Manager: Jim Riggleman (first full season).
2009: 59-103, last place.
Training Town: Viera, Fla.
Park: Space Coast Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 21/Feb. 26.
He’s Here: C Ivan Rodriguez, 2B Adam Kennedy, RHP Jason Marquis, RHP Matt Capps, RHP Brian Bruney, LHP Eddie Guardado, RHP Tyler Walker, RHP Miguel Batista.
He’s Outta Here: OF Austin Kearns, C Josh Bard, RHP Mike MacDougal, RHP Saul Rivera.
What To Watch For: Is RHP Stephen Strasburg for real? Is he ready for the majors? The right-hander from San Diego State certainly will draw plenty of attention at his first spring training after signing for a record $15.1 million as the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft. The Nationals are in need of bright spots after consecutive 100-loss seasons, and while they overhauled the bullpen and added a much-needed veteran starter in Marquis, there are still plenty of questions about the rotation and defense.
St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Tony La Russa (15th season).
2009: 91-71, first place.
Training Town: Jupiter, Fla.
Park: Roger Dean Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
He’s Here: Batting coach Mark McGwire, RHP Brad Penny, LHP Rich Hill.
He’s Outta Here: 3B-OF Mark DeRosa, RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP John Smoltz, 3B Troy Glaus, OF Rick Ankiel, INF Khalil Greene.
What To Watch For: McGwire figures to be in the spotlight after his steroids admission in January. Besides the controversy, he’s entering his first season as a coach at any level. Third base is up for grabs, with David Freese, acquired from Padres in the Jim Edmonds trade after the 2007 season, holding the inside track. The role of fifth starter also is headed for a competition, with LHP Jaime Garcia and RHP Kyle McClellan among those in running. NL MVP Albert Pujols is expected to fine coming off right elbow surgery.
Chicago Cubs
Manager: Lou Piniella (fourth season).
2009: 83-78, second place.
Training Town: Mesa, Ariz.
Park: Fitch Park/HoHoKam Park
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
He’s Here: CF Marlon Byrd, OF Xavier Nady, RHP Carlos Silva, RHP Jeff Gray, INF Chad Tracy, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.
He’s Outta Here: OF Milton Bradley, INF Aaron Miles, INF/OF Jake Fox, RHP Kevin Gregg, OF Reed Johnson, RHP Aaron Heilman, RHP Rich Harden.
What To Watch For: The Cubs need a quick start after faltering last season and could be without steady lefty starter Ted Lilly (shoulder surgery) at the beginning of the regular season. Piniella is entering the final year of his contract and with new owners in the Ricketts family, it will be interesting to see if he gets a contract extension. General manager Jim Hendry, who traded away the troubled Bradley after just one season, also is under pressure. The Cubs will bring Nady along slowly after Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. They are a predominantly right-handed hitting team, meaning lefty-swinging RF Kosuke Fukudome must be productive. Another must is a season of good health and consistency from LF Alfonso Soriano. Carlos Marmol doesn’t have to fight for the closer’s job like last spring, but he must find a way to harness his good stuff and exhibit better control. RHP Carlos Zambrano, with a $91.5 million contract, must win more than the nine games he did last season.
Milwaukee Brewers
Manager: Ken Macha (second season).
2009: 80-82, third place.
Training Town: Phoenix.
Park: Maryvale Baseball Park.
First Workout: Feb. 22/Feb. 27.
He’s Here: LHP Randy Wolf, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, LHP Doug Davis, C Gregg Zaun, CF Carlos Gomez, C George Kottaras, CF Jim Edmonds.
He’s Outta Here: CF Mike Cameron, SS J.J. Hardy, 2B Felipe Lopez, RHP Braden Looper, C Jason Kendall, INF/OF Frank Catalanotto, RHP Mark DiFelice, RHP Seth McClung, C Mike Rivera.
What To Watch For: The Brewers’ biggest decisions will be in the starting rotation. Wolf, Davis and RHP Yovani Gallardo are set, but RHP Dave Bush, RHP Jeff Suppan, LHP Manny Parra and LHP Chris Narveson will compete for the final two spots. It’s also unclear whom they’ll be throwing to. With Kendall gone, veteran Zaun and Kottaras will vie for time while the organization develops prospect Jonathan Lucroy. In the field, if Gomez can’t win the CF job outright, look for Jody Gerut, eight-time Gold Glove winner Edmonds or prospect Lorenzo Cain to get more opportunities. At shortstop, 23-year-old rookie Alcides Escobar will be the starter, but 39-year-old Craig Counsell could step in if he falters.
Cincinnati Reds
Manager: Dusty Baker (fifth season).
2009: 78-84, fourth place.
Training Town: Goodyear, Ariz.
Park: Goodyear Ballpark.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 22.
He’s Here: LHP Aroldis Chapman, SS Orlando Cabrera, INF Aaron Miles, INF Miguel Cairo.
He’s Outta Here: CF Willy Taveras, INF Adam Rosales, OF Darnell McDonald.
What To Watch For: Will Chapman win a spot in the rotation or start the season in the minors? The 22-year-old Cuban defector signed a $30.25 million, six-year deal in the offseason, one of the Reds’ biggest gambles in years. RHP Edinson Volquez is recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery, and his progress will be closely watched. He is expected back around midseason. RHP Homer Bailey finally showed improvement last season and is expected to earn one of the two open spots in a rotation featuring RHP Aaron Harang, RHP Bronson Arroyo and RHP Johnny Cueto.
Houston Astros
Manager: Brad Mills (first season).
2009: 74-88, fifth place.
Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.
Park: Osceola County Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 20/Feb. 24.
He’s Here: Manager Brad Mills, RHP Brett Myers, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP Matt Lindstrom, 3B Pedro Feliz.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Jose Valverde, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, OF Darin Erstad, SS Miguel Tejada.
What to watch for: All eyes will be on rookie manager Brad Mills, who took the job after six years as Terry Francona’s bench coach in Boston. The Astros lost confidence in fired manager Cecil Cooper, so Mills’ first task will be earning the respect and trust of his players. Houston is hoping the 29-year-old Myers can bolster a starting rotation that ranked 25th in the majors in 2009 (4.79 ERA). RHP Roy Oswalt and 1B Lance Berkman both had off years in 2009 — Oswalt earned a franchise-record 16 no-decisions and Berkman hit .274, a career low for a full season. The Astros need Feliz to help fill the leadership gap left when Tejada signed with Baltimore. Tejada hit .313 with 14 homers and 86 RBIs last season and was also a respected leader in the clubhouse. Tommy Manzella, highly regarded for his defensive skills, is expected to take over at shortstop after hitting .289 with 56 RBIs in the minors last season. The Astros also need a more productive season from 2B Kaz Matsui, who batted a career-low .250 in 2009 and has had four stints on the disabled list over the past two seasons.
Pittsburgh Pirates
Manager: John Russell (third season).
2009: 62-99, last place.
Training Town: Bradenton, Fla.
Park: McKechnie Field.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
He’s Here: RHP Brendan Donnelly, RHP Octavio Dotel, LHP Javier Lopez, INF Bobby Crosby, INF Akinori Iwamura, OF Ryan Church.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Matt Capps, INF Brian Bixler, C Robinzon Diaz, RHP Chris Bootcheck, RHP Denny Bautista.
What to watch for: The players generating the most interest in camp probably won’t start the season in Pittsburgh. Top prospects 3B Pedro Alvarez, OF Jose Tabata and RHP Brad Lincoln are nearly ready, but may spend April and May in the minors. Otherwise, the lineup is mostly unchanged from the trade-depleted team that lost 29 of its last 40 last season. Russell says it’s time for a rebuilding team to start thinking playoffs. The fans would settle for any sign this spring that the Pirates are ready to stop losing six-plus games of every 10 played.
Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Joe Torre (third season).
2009: 95-67, first place.
Training Town: Glendale, Ariz.
Park: Camelback Ranch.
First Workout: Feb. 20/Feb. 21.
He’s Here: RHP Russ Ortiz, RHP Ramon Ortiz, RHP Luis Ayala, RHP Justin Miller, INF Jamey Carroll, OF Reed Johnson.
He’s Gone: LHP Randy Wolf, RHP Guillermo Mota, RHP Jon Garland, LHP Will Ohman, LF Juan Pierre, 1B Jim Thome, INF Mark Loretta, INF Juan Castro, 2B Orlando Hudson.
What To Watch For: The biggest issues heading into spring training are selecting a fifth starter and a starting second baseman. Among the pitching candidates are Scott Elbert, James McDonald, Eric Stults, Charlie Haeger, Josh Lindblom and Ortiz, who was signed to a minor league deal and invited to camp. At second base, recently re-signed Ronnie Belliard seemingly would have the edge, having started throughout the playoffs. Other possibilities are Blake DeWitt and Jamey Carroll. With the signing of Johnson, who can play all three outfield positions, the Dodgers’ roster could include four outfielders and eight infielders. Manny Ramirez exercised a $20 million option to stay with the team after being suspended 50 games last season for violating baseball’s drug rules. The slugger struggled to regain his form after returning. Torre heads into the third and final year of his contract with no resolution on a possible extension. The contentious divorce of owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife, Jamie, who are mired in a team ownership dispute, will heat up in late May when a court hearing is held.

Colorado Rockies
Manager: Jim Tracy (second season).
2009: 92-70, second place, wild card.
Training Town: Tucson, Ariz.
Park: Hi Corbett Field (final season).
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 26.
He’s Here: 3B Melvin Mora, RHP Tim Redding, C Miguel Olivo, RHP Justin Speier.
He’s Outta Here: C Yorvit Torrealba, 3B Garrett Atkins, RHP Jason Marquis.
What To Watch For: Will former ace RHP Jeff Francis return to his old winning ways after missing the entire 2009 season following surgery on his throwing arm? If so, he’ll make the Rockies’ deep rotation, which includes Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook, Jason Hammel and Jorge De La Rosa, even stronger. Even though 1B Jason Giambi is returning, the Rockies will test RF Brad Hawpe at first to see if he’s a viable option to give Todd Helton some days off to keep him healthy for the stretch run. And Mora could get plenty of at-bats if 3B Ian Stewart struggles against lefties again or if 2B Clint Barmes continues to have a low on-base percentage.
San Francisco Giants
Manager: Bruce Bochy (fourth season).
2009: 88-74, third place.
Training Town: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Park: Scottsdale Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 18/Feb. 23.
He’s Here: INF-OF Mark DeRosa, 1B Aubrey Huff, RHP Byung-Hyun Kim, LHP Horacio Ramirez, RHP Guillermo Mota, RHP Todd Wellemeyer.
He’s Outta Here: LHP Randy Johnson, RHP Brad Penny, OF Randy Winn, 1B Ryan Garko, INF Rich Aurilia, RHP Bobby Howry, RHP Merkin Valdez.
What To Watch For: The Giants need a serious upgrade to their offense after finishing last season 26th in the majors in runs scored, 29th in homers, and last with a .309 on-base percentage that was the lowest in the majors in six years. With the biggest acquisitions being DeRosa and Huff, the improvement will have to come internally from players like Aaron Rowand, Freddy Sanchez and Edgar Renteria.
San Diego Padres
Manager: Bud Black (fourth season).
2009: 75-87, fourth place.
Training Town: Peoria, Ariz.
Park: Peoria Sports Complex.
First Workout: Feb 19/25
He’s Here: RHP Jon Garland, INF/OF Jerry Hairston, OF Scott Hairston, C Yorvit Torrealba.
He’s Outta Here: 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff, C Henry Blanco, RF Brian Giles.
What To Watch For: The starting positions are relatively set, so the focus during spring training will be on how 3B Chase Headley and LF Kyle Blanks settle into their positions. The Padres traded Kouzmanoff to Oakland to get Headley back to his natural position and get Blanks into the starting lineup. Blanks played 1B in the minors, but that position is manned by Adrian Gonzalez, an All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, at least for the time being. Gonzalez has been mentioned in plenty of trade rumors and could be moved by the trading deadline if the Padres flounder. Blanks is big and strong, and the Padres need his bat on a full-time basis. With the front part of the rotation filled by Chris Young, Garland and Kevin Correia, there will be competition for the final two spots, as well as in the bullpen.
Arizona Diamondbacks
Manager: AJ Hinch (second season).
2009: 70-92, last place.
Training Town: Tucson, Ariz.
Park: Tucson Electric Park.
First Workout: Feb. 20/Feb. 24.
He’s Here: 1B Adam LaRoche, IF Kelly Johnson, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Bobby Howry, RHP Aaron Heilman.
He’s Outta Here: LF Eric Byrnes, LHP Doug Davis, IF Chad Tracy, RHP Max Scherzer, LHP Daniel Schlereth, LHP Scott Schoeneweis.
What To Watch For: The Diamondbacks are a combined 20 games under .500 since making a surprise run to the NL West title in 2007. A year ago, they never recovered from the loss of RHP Brandon Webb, who made one start and eventually underwent shoulder surgery. They’re hoping the 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner returns to form and joins RHP Dan Haren, Jackson and Kennedy in a formidable rotation. The club expects LaRoche and Johnson to bring stability to the infield, a trouble spot a year ago. RHP Chad Qualls, who had knee surgery, is slated to be the closer. OF Conor Jackson reportedly has been regaining strength after missing most of 2009 with Valley fever.