Can Sox go worst to first?
A team-by-team look at the American League East 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:
Boston Red Sox
Manager: John Farrell (first season)
2012: 69-93, last place.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Fla.
Park: JetBlue Park.
First Workout: Feb. 12/15.
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. 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.
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: Feb. 13/18.
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 offseason. 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: Feb. 12/15.
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’: Following their most successful season in 15 years, the Orioles did very little over the winter. Their most significant offseason 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.
Tampa Bay Rays
Manager: Joe Maddon (eighth season).
2012: 90-72, third place.
Training Town: Port Charlotte, Fla.
Park: Charlotte Sports Park.
First Workout: Feb. 13/17.
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 offseason 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 RBIs. 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.
Toronto Blue Jays
Manager: John Gibbons (first season).
2012: 73-89, fourth place.
Training Town: Dunedin, Fla.
Park: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 13/17.
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 offseason, 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 offseason 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.
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