Baseball | Major league spring training capsules

February 12, 2012 

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 (fifth season).

2011: 97-65, first place, lost in division series.

Training Town: Tampa, Fla.

Park: George M. Steinbrenner Field.

First Workout: Feb. 20/25.

He’s Here: RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, INF-OF Bill Hall, 1B-DH Russell Branyan, RHP Manny Delcarmen, OF Dewayne Wise.

He’s Outta Here: DH-1B Jorge Posada, RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Hector Noesi, RHP Andrew Brackman, 3B Eric Chavez, DH-C Jesus Montero.

Going campin’: Despite losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Yankees laid low for most of the offseason, passing on what they felt was a weak free-agent crop in the areas of their needs. But in a span of several hours on one January day, they beefed up their biggest problem area: starting pitching. New York signed Kuroda to a reasonable one-year, $10 million contract and acquired Pineda, a hard-throwing youngster, giving the club seven pitchers for five rotation spots. With Ivan Nova emerging as a rising star -- going 16-4 in his rookie year -- Phil Hughes could find himself in the bullpen, two seasons removed from winning 18 games. The big question is what will they do with A.J. Burnett, whose 5.15 ERA was third worst among all qualifying pitchers last season? The temperamental Burnett has two more years left on a five-year, $82.5 million contract and has struggled mightily the past two seasons. To get Pineda, the Yankees gave up young power hitter Montero. They still might try to sign a lefty bat to help fill the DH role. Alex Rodriguez, coming off an injury plagued year in which he hit only 16 homers, had experimental treatment on his right knee and left shoulder in Germany in December. He could see increased time at DH as could as Derek Jeter, who’ll turn 38 in June.

------

Tampa Bay Rays

Manager: Joe Maddon (seventh season).

2011: 91-71, wild card, lost in division series.

Training Town: Port Charlotte, Fla.

Park: Charlotte Sports Park.

First Workout: Feb. 21/26.

He’s Here: 1B Carlos Pena, OF Luke Scott, RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Fernando Rodney, C Jose Molina, INF Jeff Keppinger.

He’s Outta Here: DH-OF Johnny Damon, C Kelly Shoppach, C John Jaso, 1B Casey Kotchman, 1B Dan Johnson, OF Justin Ruggiano, RHP Juan Cruz, RHP Andy Sonnanstine.

Going campin’: The budget-minded Rays, who have made the playoffs three of the past four seasons, surprisingly addressed their biggest offseason priorities -- adding some power to the middle of the batting order and bolstering the bullpen -- without parting with any of their surplus of young starting pitchers. Barring a last-minute trade, they’ll go to training camp with David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann and rookie Matt Moore, who earned the team’s only win in last year’s playoffs. Although executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making a deal, he has stressed the Rays are comfortable with having an extra starter. Free agent sluggers Pena and Scott were added without sacrificing anything on defense, where Tampa Bay ranks as among best teams in the AL. Pena is a former Gold Glove first baseman who averaged 36 homers, 102 RBIs and 93 walks in an earlier four-year stint with Tampa Bay from 2007 to 2010. Scott replaces Damon as the team’s primary designated hitter and is capable of filling in defensively at first base and in the outfield. Keppinger is a utility player who provides another right-handed bat off the bench. Badenhop and Rodney join a bullpen that was rebuilt a year ago after the Rays lost six relievers to free agency.

------

Boston Red Sox

Manager: Bobby Valentine (first season).

2011: 90-72, third place.

Training Town: Fort Myers, Fla.

Park: JetBlue Park.

First Workout: Feb. 21/25.

He’s Here: Manager Bobby Valentine, OF Cody Ross, OF Ryan Sweeney, INF Nick Punto, C Kelly Shoppach, RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Mark Melancon, RHP Vicente Padilla, RHP Aaron Cook.

He’s Outta Here: RF J.D. Drew, RF Josh Reddick, SS Marco Scutaro, INF Josh Lowrie, C Jason Varitek, RHP Tim Wakefield, RHP Dan Wheeler, LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Jonathan Papelbon.

Going campin’: Valentine needs to restore order to a clubhouse that lacked discipline, which contributed to a 7-20 September that left the Red Sox out of the playoffs in Terry Francona’s last season as manager. Ben Cherington stayed away from high-priced signings when he became general manager after Theo Epstein took over as president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs. After signing Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to contracts worth $296 million last offseason, the Red Sox let Papelbon leave rather than sign the closer to an expensive deal. They hope Bailey, obtained from Oakland, can fill his role. Boston also picked up Melancon from Houston. He could fill the setup role that would be vacant if Daniel Bard makes the transition to starter. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz return to the rotation, which still has several candidates for the No. 5 spot. With Drew gone and Crawford expected to miss the start of the season following left wrist surgery, Boston could open with Ross in left field and Sweeney in right. The Red Sox need Crawford to bounce back from a disappointing year. But with Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis returning, the Red Sox lineup is strong.

------

Toronto Blue Jays

Manager: John Farrell (second season).

2011: 81-81, fourth place.

Training Town: Dunedin, Fla.

Park: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 22/25.

He’s Here: RHP Francisco Cordero, OF Ben Francisco, LHP Aaron Laffey, C Jeff Mathis, LHP Darren Oliver, RHP Sergio Santos, INF Luis Valbuena, INF Omar Vizquel.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Shawn Camp, RHP Frank Francisco, OF Adam Loewen, C Jose Molina, RHP Jon Rauch, INF Mark Teahen, OF Dewayne Wise.

Going campin’: The Blue Jays rebuilt their bullpen after blowing 25 save opportunities last season, tied for third most in baseball. Santos, a shortstop prospect the last time he was with the Blue Jays, was reacquired in a trade with the Chicago White Sox, and will be handed the closer’s job, with Oliver and Cordero taking the setup roles. Toronto failed to add another big bat behind Jose Bautista, who successfully defended his major league home run crown in 2011, and also came up short in its search for another arm to add to the rotation, an offseason priority for Farrell. Despite missing out on Japanese ace Yu Darvish, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos remains confident in his young staff, led by left-hander Ricky Romero. Toronto’s only real position battle appears to be left field, where Travis Snider and Eric Thames will square off for the starting job.

------

Baltimore Orioles

Manager: Buck Showalter (second full season).

2011: 69-93, fifth place.

Training Town: Sarasota, Fla.

Park: Ed Smith Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24.

He’s Here: LHP Wei-Yin Chen, LHP Dana Eveland, RHP Jason Hammel, RHP Matt Lindstrom, LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, C Taylor Teagarden, 2B Matt Antonelli, OF Endy Chavez, CF Jai Miller, INF Wilson Betemit, INF Ryan Flaherty.

He’s Outta Here: DH Vladimir Guerrero, LF Luke Scott, C Jake Fox, OF Felix Pie, RHP Chris Jakubauskas, RHP Jeremy Guthrie, LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, RHP Rick VandenHurk.

Going campin’: After taking over for Andy MacPhail, executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette promptly launched a worldwide search for viable pitching talent. His quest landed Chen of Taiwan and Japan’s Wada, along with a host of domestic hurlers. That means Showalter will have plenty to choose from in Florida as he seeks to assemble a viable starting rotation. The list of hopefuls includes newcomers Eveland and Hammel, as well as several young holdovers from last season (Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jack Arrieta). Showalter also must determine whether to maintain shaky Kevin Gregg as the closer, and if oft-injured Brian Roberts is healthy enough to return to second base and bat leadoff. The Orioles aren’t going to be contenders this season, but hope to at least avoid a 15th consecutive losing season.

------

CENTRAL

Detroit Tigers

Manager: Jim Leyland (seventh season).

2011: 95-67, first place, lost in ALCS.

Training Town: Lakeland, Fla.

Park: Joker Marchant Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 20/24.

He’s Here: 1B Prince Fielder, RHP Collin Balester, RHP Octavio Dotel, C Gerald Laird.

He’s Outta Here: 3B Wilson Betemit, 2B Carlos Guillen, OF Magglio Ordonez, RHP Brad Penny, RHP Ryan Perry, 2B Will Rhymes, LHP Brad Thomas, RHP Joel Zumaya.

Going campin’: Perhaps no team will be more fascinating to watch this season than the Tigers, who responded to Victor Martinez’s knee injury with a stunning $214 million bid for Fielder. To make room for the slugging first baseman, Detroit plans to move Miguel Cabrera to third and hope for the best defensively. Martinez could miss the whole season after left knee surgery, but the Tigers now have three of the game’s biggest stars -- Fielder, Cabrera and Justin Verlander -- all in their primes. Verlander won the Cy Young Award and MVP last season, helping the Tigers win the division by 15 games. Aside from Cabrera’s position switch, Detroit’s biggest question heading into spring training might be the fifth starter spot. Jacob Turner, who struck out 110 in 131 minor league innings last season, could be a candidate. Closer Jose Valverde will try for an encore performance after saving all 49 of his chances in 2011. Speed will be scarce with this lineup. Leadoff man Austin Jackson stole 22 bases last year but posted an on-base percentage of only .317 and stuck out 181 times. This will be Jackson’s third season and an important one for the young center fielder.

------

Cleveland Indians

Manager: Manny Acta (third season).

2011: 80-82, second place.

Training Town: Goodyear, Ariz.

Park: Goodyear Ballpark.

First Workout: Feb. 22/25.

He’s Here: RHP Derek Lowe, RHP Kevin Slowey, 1B Casey Kotchman, INF Russ Canzler, OF Aaron Cunningham, RHP Dan Wheeler, OF Ryan Spilborghs, C Matt Pagnozzi, RHP Jeremy Accardo, 3B Andy LaRoche, OF Fred Lewis, 3B Jose Lopez, OF Felix Pie, RHP Robinson Tejeda.

He’s Outta Here: DH Jim Thome, OF Travis Buck, RHP Justin Germano, OF Jerad Head, OF Austin Kearns, RHP Zach Putnam, RHP Mitch Talbot.

Going campin’: Without the funds to land any big-name free agents, the Indians’ priority this winter was to add depth in case of injuries and hopefully close on the Tigers, who put a crimp in Cleveland’s plans by signing slugger Prince Fielder for nine years. Lowe was a smart, low-risk addition to a solid rotation since the Braves will pay $10 million of his $15 million salary. Fausto Carmona’s arrest on identity fraud charges in the Dominican Republic forced the Indians to acquire Slowey, who went 0-8 for Minnesota last season. Carmona’s future with the club remains uncertain. Canzler and Cunningham will each have a chance to win roster spots. The biggest competition in camp will be between Jack Hannahan and Lonnie Chisenhall at third. An excellent fielder, Kotchman, coming off a career-best season at Tampa Bay, immediately improves Cleveland’s defense and his arrival likely means the disappointing Matt LaPorta will begin the season at Triple-A Columbus. Injuries ravaged the Indians last season, offsetting the 30-15 start that vaulted them into contention. The club will pay close attention this spring to former All-Star center fielder Grady Sizemore, who has been unable to stay on the field the past three seasons.

------

Chicago White Sox

Manager: Robin Ventura (first season).

2011: 79-83, third place.

Training town: Glendale, Ariz.

Park: Camelback Ranch.

First workout: Feb. 23/28.

He’s Here: Manager Robin Ventura, INF Osvaldo Martinez, RHP Jhan Marinez, RHP Nestor Molina, RHP Simon Castro, LHP Pedro Hernandez.

He’s Outta Here: LHP Mark Buehrle, OF Carlos Quentin, OF Juan Pierre, RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Jason Frasor.

Going campin’: Ventura was the surprise choice to replace his former teammate, the often outrageous Ozzie Guillen, as manager. And Ventura, the former Sox third baseman, faces a big challenge in making the team competitive in the AL Central where the Tigers just added Prince Fielder. During an offseason that points to rebuilding, the White Sox either lost or dealt away their ace (Buehrle), their closer (Santos), a run-producing but oft-injured outfielder (Quentin) and their leadoff hitter (Pierre). In return they got a bevy of pitching prospects. Chicago is hoping DH Adam Dunn’s nightmarish first season (.159, 11 homers, 42 RBIs, 177 Ks) was an anomaly and that OF Alex Rios and 2B Gordon Beckham also shake off subpar seasons. John Danks got a new contract to replace Buehrle as ace and the White Sox desperately need a healthy Jake Peavy to return to the form he once displayed with the Padres. Matt Thornton, who struggled as the closer last April, will likely get another shot at the role with Santos off to Toronto. The Sox are counting on talented young outfielder Dayan Viciedo to take over in right for Quentin and are looking for another stellar season from their leader, 1B Paul Konerko.

------

Kansas City Royals

Manager: Ned Yost (third season).

2011: 71-91, fourth place.

Training Town: Surprise, Ariz.

Park: Surprise Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 21/25.

He’s Here: LHP Jonathan Sanchez, LHP Jose Mijares, RHP Jonathan Broxton, LHP Ryan Verdugo, INF Yuniesky Betancourt.

He’s Outta Here: CF Melky Cabrera, LHP Jeff Francis, LHP Aaron Laffey.

Going campin’: The Royals upgraded their starting rotation by trading Cabrera, their center fielder, to San Francisco for Sanchez, and bolstered their bullpen by acquiring Mijares and Broxton. But that’s about all they’ve done this offseason, content to head into the season with the youngest lineup in baseball. The average age most nights will be about 27 years old, and several times last season it was 24. First baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas are the cornerstones of the youth movement after arriving from the minors last season, while catcher Salvador Perez, second baseman Johnny Giavotella and shortstop Alcides Escobar showed flashes of brilliance. Jeff Francoeur is back in right field and Alex Gordon had a breakout season in left, and is trying to work out a long-term deal to stay with Kansas City. Hotshot prospect Lorenzo Cain will get the job in center. But pitching remains the biggest question mark. Bruce Chen is a solid veteran, Sanchez has been good when he’s been healthy, and Luke Hochevar showed signs of finally becoming an elite starter. Two more starters need to emerge from a pool that includes Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, Luis Mendoza and top prospect Mike Montgomery.

------

Minnesota Twins

Manager: Ron Gardenhire (11th season).

2011: 63-99, fifth place.

Training Town: Ft. Myers, Fla.

Park: Hammond Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24.

He’s Here: SS Jamey Carroll, RHP Joel Zumaya, OF Josh Willingham, RHP Jason Marquis, C Ryan Doumit.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Joe Nathan, OF Michael Cuddyer, OF Jason Kubel, RHP Kevin Slowey, OF Jason Repko.

Going campin’: It’s a new day in Minnesota. Gone are clubhouse pillars Nathan and Cuddyer, who served as leaders and spokesmen both on and off the field. Kubel was also a mainstay for years here, so the Twins will be even more dependent on 1B Justin Morneau, C Joe Mauer and CF Denard Span to come back healthy after missing huge chunks of time last year to injury. The hope is that Morneau and Span have put their concussion problems behind them and Mauer reports fully healthy and in shape when camp opens. If that happens, a strong nucleus will be back for a team that is used to being a factor in the division. If those three stars cannot stay healthy, and if the ace-less starting rotation struggles again to get hitters out, it could be another long season at Target Field. Gardenhire has promised a renewed focus on fundamentals in camp this spring. “Playing the right way” used to be this franchise’s hallmark, but errors in the field and on the bases contributed to the team’s woeful finish.

------

WEST

Texas Rangers

Manager: Ron Washington (sixth season).

2011: 96-66, first place, AL champions, lost World Series.

Training Town: Surprise, Ariz.

Park: Surprise Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 23/26.

He’s Here: RHP Yu Darvish, RHP Joe Nathan.

He’s Outta Here: LHP C.J. Wilson, LHP Darren Oliver.

Going campin’: After consecutive World Series appearances, and twice in Game 6 last year coming within one strike of a title before losing to St. Louis in seven games, the Rangers have established themselves as one of baseball’s most solid teams. The top-hitting lineup in the majors will be basically unchanged and Texas countered the loss of Wilson in free agency -- he took a five-year deal from the AL West rival Los Angeles Angels -- by signing Darvish. The Rangers committed more than $107 million to acquire Japan’s top pitcher, including a $56 million, six-year contract. That isn’t the only change in the rotation. Hard-throwing closer Neftali Feliz is switching to a starting role, a move made easier by the signing of Nathan, the veteran free agent closer. Plus, All-Star right-hander Alexi Ogando is expected to move back into the bullpen after winning 13 games as a starter last year. Slugger Josh Hamilton’s admitted one-night relapse with alcohol during the offseason created questions about his long-term future with the Rangers. The outfielder can be a free agent after this season, but the team put on indefinite hold talks about a contract extension. Texas has hired a new special staff assistant whose job includes being in a support role for Hamilton. Johnny Narron did that before he left this winter to become Milwaukee’s hitting coach. Hamilton, who hit .298 with 25 home runs in 121 games last season, had sports hernia surgery in November after playing injured throughout the postseason.

------

Los Angeles Angels

Manager: Mike Scioscia (13th season).

2011: 86-76, second place.

Training Town: Tempe, Ariz.

Park: Tempe Diablo Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 20/27.

He’s Here: 1B Albert Pujols, LHP C.J. Wilson, C Chris Iannetta, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, INF Jorge Cantu, OF Ryan Langerhans, LHP Brad Mills.

He’s Outta Here: C Jeff Mathis, RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP Tyler Chatwood, INF Russell Branyan, OF Reggie Willits.

Going campin’: The Angels begin a season of sky-high expectations with the arrival of Pujols, the three-time NL MVP coming off his second World Series title with St. Louis. The Angels’ $240-million man will arrive at camp a week early to integrate himself into a lineup that often sputtered last season. He’s joined by Orange County native Wilson, who spurned the AL West rival Rangers to join a stellar rotation alongside Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Perhaps the player with the most spring work to do is Iannetta, acquired from Colorado to run the pitching staff while hopefully providing more offense than the trio of punchless hitters who held the job last year. While Pujols settles in, the Angels must figure out what to do with fellow first basemen Mark Trumbo, who led the club in homers and RBIs as a rookie last season, and Kendrys Morales, who’s cautiously optimistic he’ll return this spring from nearly two years away with a broken left ankle. Trumbo, who’s also coming back from surgery, and Morales might work on learning new positions in spring. Aside from the additions, much of last season’s lineup returns intact after GM Jerry Dipoto swiftly re-signed several arbitration-eligible players. Even with several big decisions to make in the spring, Scioscia believes Los Angeles has all the pieces necessary to get back to the postseason after a two-year absence.

------

Oakland Athletics

Manager: Bob Melvin (first full season).

2011: 74-88, third place.

Training Town: Phoenix.

Park: Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 19/25.

He’s Here: Manager Bob Melvin, LF Seth Smith, RF Josh Reddick, OF Jonny Gomes, RHP Bartolo Colon, RHP Jarrod Parker, RHP Ryan Cook, OF Collin Cowgill.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Trevor Cahill, LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Andrew Bailey, OF Ryan Sweeney, LHP Craig Breslow, RHP Guillermo Moscoso, LHP Josh Outman.

Going campin’: Center fielder Coco Crisp re-signed, and that became quite a bright spot and big deal considering the way new-look Oakland traded away much of its roster this winter in the hopes of landing a new ballpark in San Jose and rebuilding accordingly in anticipation of playing in a new venue. Yet that’s still a long way off, with commissioner Bud Selig yet to rule whether the low-budget A’s can leave the rundown Oakland Coliseum and move into the San Francisco Giants’ territory. Owner Lew Wolff, GM Billy Beane and Oakland’s brass are preparing as if they’ll get the OK -- and soon. The rotation will be young with big holes to fill after the A’s dealt two top starters in Cahill and Gonzalez and also All-Star closer Bailey. LHP Dallas Braden is working his way back from surgery on his pitching shoulder, so it could be tough for the A’s early as Melvin figures out who he can count on regularly in a division that has already improved drastically with the addition of slugger Albert Pujols with the Angels and star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish with the two-time reigning AL champion Texas Rangers. The A’s have another quick spring to prepare before again opening the season in Japan, on March 28 against the Seattle Mariners. Oakland, which hasn’t reached the playoffs or had a winning season since being swept by the Tigers in the 2006 AL championship series, also played in Japan vs. Boston four years ago.

------

Seattle Mariners

Manager: Eric Wedge (second season).

2011: 67-95, fourth place.

Training Town: Peoria, Ariz.

Park: Peoria Sports Complex.

First Workout: Feb. 12/18.

He’s Here: C-DH Jesus Montero, RHP Hector Noesi, LHP George Sherrill, RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, RHP Kevin Millwood, INF Munenori Kawasaki, INF Carlos Guillen, C John Jaso.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Michael Pineda, INF Adam Kennedy, RHP Josh Lueke, C Josh Bard.

Going campin’: The Mariners failed this offseason to land the much-needed, established slugger to help address their three-year offensive slump so they dealt young All-Star Pineda to the New York Yankees for Montero, a top prospect, and Noesi. While Montero’s ability behind the plate is still up for debate, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the potential he brings to a lineup that was the worst in baseball last season. Wedge will be doing some serious lineup juggling during the spring with the initial plan being to move Ichiro Suzuki out of the leadoff spot. Dustin Ackley or perhaps Chone Figgins, whose $36 million investment has so far been a bust, are candidates to take his spot. Wedge must also sort out a traffic jam in left field where Mike Carp, Casper Wells, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero and Trayvon Robinson all saw time last season. Much of spring training, which starts for Seattle a week earlier than anyone else in baseball because the Mariners open the season in Japan against Oakland, will focus on the young pitching staff. Starting prospects James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen will all get a chance to make the squad, although it’ll be difficult. Still, the Mariners starting staff expects to be their strength with Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, newcomer Hisashi Iwakuma and Noesi.

BC-BBN--Spring Training Capsules,4902

National League teams at start of spring training

By The 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:

------

EAST

Philadelphia Phillies

Manager: Charlie Manuel (eighth season).

2011: 102-60, first place, lost in division series.

Training Town: Clearwater, Fla.

Park: Bright House Field.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24.

He’s Here: RHP Jonathan Papelbon, RHP Chad Qualls, LHP Dontrelle Willis, 1B Jim Thome, INF Ty Wigginton, OF Laynce Nix, OF Juan Pierre, OF Scott Podsednik, RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP Brian Sanches.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Roy Oswalt, RHP Brad Lidge, OF Raul Ibanez, RHP Ryan Madson, OF Ross Gload, OF Ben Francisco, INF Wilson Valdez.

Going campin’: Five straight NL East titles have set the bar very high in Philadelphia. Anything less than a World Series championship isn’t considered a success for the Phillies. They set a franchise record for wins last year and have finished with the best record in the majors two straight years, but they’ve regressed each season since winning the World Series in 2008. They lost the World Series in 2009, were eliminated in the NLCS in 2010 and got knocked out in the first round last year. With aces Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels anchoring the rotation and new closer Papelbon in the fold, the Phillies have enough pitching to go deep. But hitting has been the team’s biggest problem in recent postseasons and the offense might be missing Ryan Howard at the start of the season as the big slugger recovers from an Achilles injury sustained on the final swing last year. With the Marlins and Nationals improved, it’ll be tougher for the Phillies to cruise to another division title. Still, they head to spring training as the team to beat in the East.

------

Atlanta Braves

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez (second season).

2011: 89-73, second place.

Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.

Park: Champion Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 20/25.

He’s Here: SS Tyler Pastornicky.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Derek Lowe, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Nate McLouth, INF Brooks Conrad, RHP Scott Linebrink, LHP George Sherrill.

Going campin’: The Braves decided to stand pat after a historic collapse last September, when they gave away a seemingly safe lead in the wild-card race and missed the playoffs on the final day of the season. The only major change figures to be rookie Pastornicky taking over at shortstop for Alex Gonzalez. The rest of the lineup will look the same as 2010, when Atlanta failed to find any sort of consistent run production. Much of the attention this spring will be focused on right fielder Jason Heyward, who followed up a promising rookie season with a hugely disappointing sophomore campaign (.227, 14 homers, 42 RBIs). If Heyward bounces back -- and he’s only 22 -- the Braves’ lineup will look a lot more imposing, especially with Michael Bourn leading off for an entire season. Atlanta is also counting on second baseman Dan Uggla to avoid the dismal start that left him with a .233 average, even though he did lead the team with 36 homers and 82 RBIs. Third baseman Chipper Jones keeps chugging along as he approaches his 40th birthday, still providing pop in the middle of the order (.275, 18, 70). The strength of the team is undoubtedly the pitching staff, which might be even stronger now that Lowe, a 17-game loser, has been dealt to Cleveland. Tim Hudson, who had 16 wins, is coming off back surgery and may not be ready to go at the start of spring, but he’s not expected to miss an extended period. The Braves also will be keeping an eye on young starters Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, both plagued by injuries at the end of last season but now insisting they’re fully healthy. There’s plenty of candidates for the final two spots in the rotation with Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran expected to compete in the spring. The bullpen was dominant most of the season with NL Rookie of the Year Craig Kimbrel (46 saves), Jonny Venters (1.84 ERA) and Eric O’Flaherty (0.98). But the trio faded down the stretch as the team slumped, and Gonzalez will be looking for ways to keep them fresh for the enti re year. Gonzalez will be under scrutiny, as well, after his debut season taking over for Bobby Cox ended with that awful September swoon.

------

Washington Nationals

Manager: Davey Johnson (first full season).

2011: 80-81, third place.

Training Town: Viera, Fla.

Park: Space Coast Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 20/25.

He’s Here: RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Brad Lidge, OF Mike Cameron, INF Mark DeRosa, RHP Chad Durbin, INF-OF Mark Teahen.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Livan Hernandez, OF Jonny Gomes, RHP Todd Coffey, OF Laynce Nix.

Going campin’: All eyes will be on 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. Will he make the club in spring training? Or, more likely, will he get some more seasoning in the minors first? After ending their streak of last-place finishes, the Nationals aim to finally be a factor and play meaningful games in September. Led by Stephen Strasburg, Washington’s rotation got much-needed boosts from Jackson and Gonzalez. Lidge joins a bullpen that already was a strength. Now the key will be whether the offense produces despite no major additions -- unless, that is, Harper is on the opening-day roster.

------

New York Mets

Manager: Terry Collins (second season).

2011: 77-85, fourth place.

Training Town: Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Park: Digital Domain Park.

First Workout: Feb. 22/27.

He’s Here: CF Andres Torres, RHP Ramon Ramirez, RHP Frank Francisco, RHP Jon Rauch, INF Ronny Cedeno, C Rob Johnson, RHP Fernando Cabrera.

He’s Outta Here: SS Jose Reyes, CF Angel Pagan, LHP Chris Capuano, C Ronny Paulino, RHP Jason Isringhausen, OF Willie Harris, 1B-OF Nick Evans, RHP Chris Young.

Going campin’: Not long ago, the Mets spent their winters landing big-name prizes like Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran. Now they hunt for bargains -- if they even shop at all. Coming off three straight losing seasons and mired in a financial mess, New York has slashed its bloated payroll below $100 million and started looking toward the future. The team’s owners are being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars by the trustee seeking money for victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, with a trial set to start March 19. What happens in court could determine the club’s fate, overshadowing almost everything at spring training. After trading Rodriguez and Beltran last summer, the Mets didn’t even make a formal offer as Reyes, a homegrown star, left for a $106 million, six-year deal with the division-rival Marlins. The next big question is whether third baseman David Wright, the face of the franchise, will follow Reyes out the door. The team holds a $16 million club option for 2013, which gets voided if Wright is traded this year. Besides that issue, much of the focus this spring will be on Santana’s health. The two-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t pitched in the majors since undergoing shoulder surgery in September 2010, and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for opening day as the Mets prepare to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Most of the rotation, however, returns intact. New York will hope for a bounce-back season from RHP Mike Pelfrey and continued progress by LHP Jonathon Niese, RHP Dillon Gee and RF Lucas Duda. With the money they did spend in the offseason, the Mets tried to upgrade an ineffective bullpen. Francisco is the new closer. New York also moved in the fences at spacious Citi Field, hoping that will benefit Wright and big-money bust Jason Bay. Light-hitting youngster Ruben Tejada takes over for Reyes at shortstop, while New York tries to squeeze Daniel Murphy’s bat -- and surgically repaired knees -- in at second base. Promising 1B Ike Davis is expected back after missing most of last season with a slow-to-heal ankle injury. Still, fans are extremely frustrated. Or even worse, disinterested. And the situation could get worse before it gets better. This looks like a last-place team in the powerful NL East, where everyone else has been loading up.

------

Miami Marlins

Manager: Ozzie Guillen (first season).

2011: 72-90, fifth place.

Training Town: Jupiter, Fla.

Park: Roger Dean Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 22/25.

He’s Here: Manager Ozzie Guillen, SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Carlos Zambrano, RHP Heath Bell, LHP Wade LeBlanc, RHP Chad Gaudin, OF Aaron Rowand, OF Austin Kearns.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Chris Volstad, RHP Clay Hensley, RHP Brian Sanches, RHP Burke Badenhop, C John Baker.

Going campin’: The Marlins have a new name, new ballpark and new manager. They also have a new financial philosophy that resulted in an offseason spending spree unprecedented in franchise history. Free-agent deals totaling $191 million netted the Marlins three All-Stars in Reyes, Buehrle and Bell. The Marlins also hired the outspoken Guillen and traded for the hotheaded Zambrano, ensuring lots of attention for a team that finished last in the NL in attendance each of the past seven years. The biggest spring training questions will be whether Guillen can sell All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez on a switch to third base to make room for Reyes, and whether ace RHP Josh Johnson is healthy. Johnson made only nine starts last year because of shoulder inflammation. The Marlins hope for signs this spring that second baseman Chris Coghlan can regain his 2009 NL Rookie of the Year form, and they’ll give speedy utilityman Emilio Bonifacio a tryout in center field. The bullpen should be much improved, and the rotation is set if Johnson’s healthy and Zambrano can take advantage of a fresh start.

------

CENTRAL

Milwaukee Brewers

Manager: Ron Roenicke (second season).

2011: 96-66, first place, lost in NLCS.

Training Town: Phoenix.

Park: Maryvale Baseball Park.

First Workout: Feb. 20/25.

He’s Here: 3B Aramis Ramirez, SS Alex Gonzalez, OF Norichika Aoki, RHP Jose Veras.

He’s Outta Here: 1B Prince Fielder, INF Craig Counsell, INF Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B Casey McGehee, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Takashi Saito.

Going campin’: Coming off one of the most memorable seasons in franchise history, the Brewers have had an anxious offseason. As expected, Prince Fielder left as a free agent, signing a nine-year, $214 million deal with Detroit. What wasn’t expected: NL MVP Ryan Braun being suspended for 50 games under baseball’s drug policy -- and having to await a verdict on his appeal. Yes, the arrival of former Cubs slugger Aramis Ramirez will help make up for some of the offense that was lost when Fielder left. But if the Brewers are going to contend again this season, they’ll likely have to do it based more on pitching and defense than they have in the past. Second baseman Rickie Weeks is the only returning starter from last year’s infield. Mat Gamel gets the first shot at replacing Fielder, although Corey Hart will spend part of spring training getting work at first base. Alex Gonzalez is expected to be a defensive upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt. Ramirez takes over at third. Milwaukee’s pitching was strong last season and should be even better with Zack Greinke healthy to start the year and a full season with Francisco Rodriguez in the setup role. One of the more intriguing story lines of spring training will be the arrival of outfielder Norichika Aoki, a three-time Central League batting champion in Japan.

------

St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Mike Matheny (first season).

2011: 90-72, wild card, won World Series.

Training Town: Jupiter, Fla.

Park: Roger Dean Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24

He’s Here: Manager Mike Matheny, OF Carlos Beltran, LHP J.C. Romero, pitching coach Derek Lilliquist, INF Alex Cora.

He’s Outta Here: Manager Tony La Russa, pitching coach Dave Duncan, 1B Albert Pujols, RHP Edwin Jackson, INF Ryan Theriot, INF Nick Punto, C Gerald Laird, RHP Octavio Dotel, LHP Arthur Rhodes.

Going campin’: New manager, new pitching coach, new No. 3 hitter after their surprising title run. Matheny will be filling out lineup cards -- without Pujols to pencil in -- for the first time instead of La Russa, who retired No. 3 on the career victory list behind only Connie Mack and John McGraw. At least Lilliquist has some experience after getting tested late last season when Duncan took an extended leave of absence to tend to his ailing wife. Matheny could plug Beltran, Matt Holliday or Lance Berkman into the slot Pujols commandeered for 11 Hall of Fame-trajectory seasons before bolting to the Angels, or he could mix and match. Signing Beltran and re-signing shortstop Rafael Furcal ($7 million) took most of the money the Cardinals would have spent keeping Pujols. The lineup figures to be deeper with David Freese emerging in October as the NLCS and World Series MVP and Allen Craig also coming off a clutch postseason, although Craig could miss the first month of the season rehabbing from knee surgery. The biggest boost overall might come from a familiar face. Former 20-game winner Adam Wainwright is back from elbow surgery and rejoins Chris Carpenter at the top of the rotation.

------

Cincinnati Reds

Manager: Dusty Baker (fourth season).

2011: 79-83, third place.

Training Town: Goodyear, Ariz.

Park: Goodyear Ballpark.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24.

He’s Here: RHP Mat Latos, RHP closer Ryan Madson, LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Andrew Brackman, LHP Jeff Francis, OF Ryan Ludwick, INF Wilson Valdez, OF/INF Willie Harris.

He’s Outta Here: C Ramon Hernandez, RHP closer Francisco Cordero, LHP Travis Wood, RHP Edinson Volquez, LHP Dontrelle Willis, INF Yonder Alonso, OF Fred Lewis, SS Edgar Renteria, C Yasmani Grandal.

Going campin’: The Reds won the NL Central in 2010 with a nucleus of young players and spent the following offseason signing them to long-term deals. They returned their roster virtually intact for 2011 and watched it struggle, especially the rotation. So, GM Walt Jocketty took a far different approach this offseason, making a series of trades and free agent signings to give the pitching staff a new look. They traded four players, including starter Volquez and top prospect Alonso, to San Diego for starter Latos. The rotation now features RHP Johnny Cueto, Latos and Bronson Arroyo in the first three spots, with RHP Homer Bailey and Mike Leake in the competition for the last two spots. Madson replaces Cordero as the closer, with Marshall giving the Reds another dependable setup man. The Reds still have to figure out what to do at three positions. Rookie shortstop Zack Cozart had surgery on his non-throwing elbow last year, but is first in line for the starting job. Third baseman Scott Rolen had surgery on his left shoulder, which was a chronic problem and limited him to 65 games last season. The Reds will see how it responds during spring training. Left field is open for competition once again. The Reds’ main wish for spring training is to stay healthy. Last year, Bailey and Cueto came down with shoulder problems and Arroyo developed mononucleosis during spring training.

------

Pittsburgh Pirates

Manager: Clint Hurdle (second season).

2011: 72-90, fourth place.

Training Town: Bradenton, Fla.

Park: McKechnie Field.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24.

He’s Here: LHP Erik Bedard, C Rod Barajas, SS Clint Barmes, OF Nate McLouth, 3B Casey McGehee.

He’s Outta Here: 1B Derrek Lee, OF Ryan Ludwick, LHP Paul Maholm, SS Ronny Cedeno, SS Pedro Ciriaco, C Ryan Doumit, C Chris Snyder, RHP Jose Veras.

Going campin’: The Pirates generated plenty of buzz last season, leading the division in late July before collapsing down the stretch en route to the franchise’s 19th straight losing season. Hurdle infused the clubhouse with a needed dash of optimism and the team worked somewhat aggressively -- given its salary limitations -- during the offseason to plug in holes until help comes from the minors. The Pirates signed Bedard to a one-year deal, hoping he can shake off the injuries that have limited him in recent seasons and become a top-end starter. He’ll fill in for Maholm, the team’s longest tenured player before he signed with the Cubs. Barajas is 36 but the team believes he can catch anywhere from 100-120 games, and his bat will be welcome in one of baseball’s weakest lineups. Barmes signed a two-year deal, citing his relationship with Hurdle in Colorado as a major reason for moving to Pittsburgh. McGehee is insurance in case Pedro Alvarez can’t shake out of the sophomore slump he endured in 2011, while McLouth returns to the Pirates after spending time in Atlanta. The team continues to build around All-Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen, second baseman Neil Walker and right fielder Jose Tabata, with Alvarez needing to make an impact if Pittsburgh wants to build on 2011. The rotation appears to be set, and All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan anchors the bullpen.

------

Chicago Cubs

Manager: Dale Sveum (first season).

2011: 71-91, fifth place.

Training Town: Mesa, Ariz.

Park: Fitch Park; HoHoKam Park.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24.

He’s Here: LHP Paul Maholm, RHP Chris Volstad, LHP Travis Wood, 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Ian Stewart, OF David DeJesus, LHP Trever Miller, RHP Andy Sonnanstine.

He’s Outta Here: Manager Mike Quade, RHP Carlos Zambrano, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Carlos Pena, LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Andrew Cashner, C Koyie Hill.

Going campin’: The Cubs brought in Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations, luring him from the Red Sox to be the same championship-drought buster he was in Boston. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 but Epstein’s mantra has been to build for the future. Chicago has added depth to its pitching rotation, ridded itself of mercurial one-time ace Carlos Zambrano and brought in everyday players David DeJesus and Ian Stewart to see if they can shake off poor seasons. The remake of the front office also included the hiring of GM Jed Hoyer from the Padres. There’s also the lingering question about star SS Starlin Castro, who had 207 hits a year ago but has been questioned about an alleged sexual assault. No charges have been filed. RHP Matt Garza, who settled for a $9.25 million contract shortly before an arbitration hearing, has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. The Cubs were shaky on defense a year ago and Sveum will demand more hustle, but his biggest chore could be finding run-producers after the departures of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena.

------

Houston Astros

Manager: Brad Mills (third season).

2011: 56-106, sixth place.

Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.

Park: Osceola County Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 20/26.

He’s Here: OF Jack Cust, INF Jed Lowrie, RHP Kyle Weiland, C Chris Snyder, RHP Livan Hernandez, LHP Zach Duke.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Mark Melancon, SS Clint Barmes, LF Jason Michaels.

Going campin’: The Astros had the worst record in the majors and in franchise history last season. They’ve got a new owner in Jim Crane, who bought the team from Drayton McLane, but with a roster filled with young, unproven players their outlook for this season is about the same as last year’s. Former general manager Ed Wade shed almost all of Houston’s recognizable players in the last two seasons trying replenish the farm system. He was let go soon after Crane took over. New GM Jeff Luhnow is now in charge of trying to turn this franchise around in its farewell season in the National League before next season’s move to the AL. Returning for the Astros is one last year’s bright spots in third baseman Jimmy Paredes. He hit .286 in 46 games after being promoted from Double-A. First baseman Carlos Lee, who is virtually the only veteran non-pitcher on the roster, returns for the last season of the $100 million contract he signed in 2007 after hitting 18 homers with 94 RBIs in 2011. Catcher Jason Castro won’t be ready for the start of spring training after offseason surgery on his left foot, but the Astros hope he can finally be their full-time catcher this season after injuries have sidelined him since he was a rookie in 2010. RHP Brett Myers leads the rotation and will try to improve on last season’s 7-14 record. He’s joined by lefty Wandy Rodriguez who was 11-11 last year. Brandon Lyon, who had an 11.48 ERA in just 15 games of an injury-plagued 2011, figures to be the closer after Houston traded Melancon to the Red Sox.

------

WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks

Manager: Kirk Gibson (second season).

2011: 94-68, first place, lost in division series.

Training Town: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Park: Salt River Fields.

First Workout: Feb. 20/25.

He’s Here: OF Jason Kubel, RHP Trevor Cahill, LHP Craig Breslow, RHP Takashi Saito, RHP Jonathan Albaladejo.

He’s Outta Here: OF-1B Xavier Nady, LHP Zach Duke, OF Colin Cowgill, SS Josh Wilson, 3B Sean Burroughs, RHP Jarrod Parker, RHP Esmerling Vasquez.

Going campin’: The Diamondbacks only tinkered with their roster after their surprising worst-to-first run in 2011. General manager Kevin Towers added ex-Oakland right-hander Cahill and, in a somewhat surprising move, signed free-agent Kubel to play left field, leaving Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra to back up all three outfield positions. Towers also bolstered the bullpen with the addition of Breslow. A major question is whether SS Stephen Drew will be back from a broken ankle. The team re-signed slick-fielding, light-hitting John McDonald to play in Drew’s place if necessary. Arizona also re-signed 2B Aaron Hill. McDonald and Hill were acquired from Toronto late in the season and both were significant contributors to Arizona’s successful stretch run. The rotation looks set with Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Cahill, Josh Collmenter and lefty Joe Saunders. But the team has two bright prospects in RHP Trevor Bauer and LHP Tyler Skaggs. Last year, Gibson used spring training to drill in a winning attitude. This year he will be looking to maintain that, using last year’s results as evidence.

------

San Francisco Giants

Manager: Bruce Bochy (sixth season).

2011: 86-76, second place.

Training Town: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Park: Scottsdale, Stadium.

First Workout: Feb. 19/24.

He’s Here: OF Melky Cabrera, OF Angel Pagan, INF Ryan Theriot, RHP Clay Hensley.

He’s Outta Here: RF Carlos Beltran, CF Andres Torres, RHP Ramon Ramirez, OF Cody Ross, OF Pat Burrell.

Going campin’: Star catcher Buster Posey’s return from a devastating injury last May will be among the top stories this spring. The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year was lost for the season after tearing three ligaments in his left ankle and fracturing a bone in his lower leg in a frightening home plate collision with Florida’s Scott Cousins on May 25. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez also is expected to be at full strength again after his season was cut short following labrum surgery on his right shoulder in August. The Giants are determined to contend in the NL West again after they missed returning to the playoffs during an injury-plagued season following that improbable World Series championship in 2010 -- and Arizona seems poised to defend its division title. San Francisco gave ace Tim Lincecum a $40.5 million, two-year contract this offseason with incentives, and slugger Pablo Sandoval was rewarded with a $17.15 million, three-year contract. The 25-year-old third baseman became an All-Star last season after losing nearly 40 pounds during a rigorous offseason regimen. He batted .315 with 23 home runs and 70 RBIs in 2011. San Francisco hopes for comeback seasons from a few others, too. Aubrey Huff, rewarded with a $22 million, two-year contract last offseason after hitting .290 with a team-leading 26 home runs and 86 RBIs in 2010, batted just .246 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs in 2011. He’s been on a fitness kick this winter and is determined to return to form. LHP Barry Zito begins the sixth season of his $126 million, seven-year contract looking to prove himself once again. He is slated as the fifth starter going into spring training. Zito -- left off the postseason roster for all three rounds in 2010 -- is owed $19 million this season, $20 million in 2013 and has an $18 million team option with a $7 million buyout in 2014. Will the Giants score enough runs to support Lincecum and Matt Cain and give them enough incentive to stay put for the long haul as GM Brian Sabean hopes?

------

Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Don Mattingly (second season).

2011: 82-79, third place.

Training Town: Glendale, Ariz.

Park: Camelback Ranch.

First Workout: Feb. 22/28.

He’s Here: 2B Mark Ellis, LF Juan Rivera, 2B Adam Kennedy, LHP Chris Capuano, INF-OF Jerry Hairston Jr., RHP Aaron Harang, RHP Mike MacDougal, C Matt Treanor, RHP Todd Coffey.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP Jonathan Broxton, RHP Vicente Padilla, 3B Casey Blake, SS Jamey Carroll, C Rod Barajas, LHP Hong-Chih Kuo, LHP Dana Eveland.

Going campin’: The biggest news will develop away from spring training as the sale of the team is expected to close by April 30. That’s the date current owner Frank McCourt is due to give former wife Jamie a $131 million divorce settlement. McCourt placed the team in bankruptcy last year and he will get to select the new owner as part of an agreement with Major League Baseball. At least nine bidders are reported to be in the running, with a second round of bidding believed set for the beginning of March. RF Andre Ethier, a Gold Glove winner, signed a $10.95 million, one-year deal and will be looking for a productive season to position himself for free agency in 2013. His right knee bothered him last season and he had surgery in September. The biggest offseason acquisitions were Capuano and Harang, who will fill out a veteran rotation led by Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, LHP Ted Lilly and RHP Chad Billingsley. With Broxton, a two-time All-Star, off to Kansas City after an injury-marred 2011, look for Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen to anchor the closer’s role. The hard-throwing right-handers both performed impressively last year.

------

Colorado Rockies

Manager: Jim Tracy (fourth season).

2011: 73-89, fourth place.

Training Town: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Park: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

First Workout: Feb. 19/27.

He’s Here: RHP Jeremy Guthrie, OF Michael Cuddyer, 2B Marco Scutaro, C Ramon Hernandez, 3B Casey Blake, RHP Tyler Chatwood, RHP Guillermo Moscoso, LHP Josh Outman, OF Tyler Colvin, LHP Jamie Moyer, INF D.J. LeMahieu.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Huston Street, RHP Jason Hammel, RHP Matt Lindstrom, OF Seth Smith, C Chris Iannetta, 3B Ian Stewart, RHP Casey Weathers, RHP Clayton Mortensen.

Going campin’: Veteran leader Todd Helton welcomes the low public expectations surrounding the Rockies this year. From poor pitching to a lack of timely hitting, the Rockies plummeted under the weight of heavy expectations in 2011. Their best seasons, playoff runs in 2007 and 2009, both came out of the blue. Maybe 2012 will be the same, Helton reasons. Last year, everybody was calling them the prohibitive favorite in the NL West after they committed $273 million in contracts to lock up some of their young stars. They spent 38 days in first place before the trap door swung open and sent them plummeting to the most disappointing season in their history. GM Dan O’Dowd went about changing the clubhouse culture in the offseason, bringing in proven veterans Cuddyer, Guthrie, Hernandez and Scutaro. He stockpiled arms during the winter, leaving Tracy with several rotation candidates. The projected group going into camp is Guthrie, Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz, Juan Nicasio and Moscoso, with Alex White, Chatwood, Outman, Moyer and Esmil Rogers all competing for spots, too. Jorge De La Rosa hopes to be back from Tommy John surgery by late May, and Nicasio has made a remarkable recovery from a broken neck when he got hit in the face by a comebacker last year. Star slugger Carlos Gonzalez said he’s better prepared for this season after spending more time focusing on baseball and not getting caught up in his newfound celebrity as he did a year earlier, which he now realizes led to his slow start in 2011. SS Troy Tulowitzki recommitted himself, too, and worked out in Las Vegas during the offseason with 1B Jason Giambi and OF Dexter Fowler, whom he predicts will have a monster season.

------

San Diego Padres

Manager: Bud Black (sixth season).

2011: 71-91, fifth place.

Training Town: Peoria, Ariz.

Park: Peoria Sports Complex

First Workout: Feb. 20/25.

He’s Here: LF Carlos Quentin, 1B Yonder Alonso, RHP Huston Street, RHP Edinson Volquez, RHP Micah Owings, RHP Andrew Cashner, C John Baker.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Heath Bell, RHP Mat Latos, 1B Anthony Rizzo.

Going campin’: While the Padres aren’t expected to be serious contenders for the division crown, they should at least be better than last year thanks to three big trades by new general manager Josh Byrnes in late December and early January. Byrnes traded RHP Mat Latos to Cincinnati for four players, including starter Volquez and two top prospects, first baseman Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal. Byrnes acquired Quentin from the Chicago White Sox two weeks later, and then dealt Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs for Cashner. With starting position players pretty much in place, the main focus of spring training will be to set the rotation and bullpen. The big loss of the offseason was letting All-Star closer Bell sign as a free with the Marlins.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service