National League teams at start of spring training
February 11, 2012
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.
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.
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