• National League East spring capsules
    The Associated Press | February 09,2013
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    AP FILE PHOTO Veteran shortstop Derek Jeter returns to the New York Yankees after his 2012 seasn was cut short by an injury.
    A team-by-team look at the National 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:

    Washington Nationals

    Manager: Davey Johnson (third season).

    2012: 98-64, first place, lost in division series.

    Training Town: Viera, Fla.

    Park: Space Coast Stadium.

    First Workout: Feb. 14/17.

    He’s Here: RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP Dan Haren, CF Denard Span, C Chris Snyder.

    He’s Outta Here: LF-1B Michael Morse, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Sean Burnett, LHP Mike Gonzalez, LHP John Lannan, C Jesus Flores, INF-OF Mark DeRosa, RHP Chien-Ming Wang.

    Going campin’: Stephen Strasburg will be rarin’ to go, no doubt, after his much-debated shutdown late in the 2012 regular season that kept him off Washington’s playoff roster for a division series exit against St. Louis. Same goes for Bryce Harper, the NL Rookie of the Year who, as GM Mike Rizzo put it, is “always going 100 mph with his hair on fire.” That pair of former No. 1 overall draft picks helped quickly turn the Nationals from a 100-loss laughingstock to one of baseball’s elite teams last season, when they led the majors in victories. To save some wear and tear on the 20-year-old Harper, Rizzo shifted him from center field to left — trading away Morse — and traded for Span to handle center and bat leadoff. One spot worth watching this spring: relief pitching. Washington blew a 6-0 lead in its season-ending Game 5 NLDS loss to the Cardinals, and Rizzo went out and signed Soriano, who stepped in to close for the Yankees last season when Mariano Rivera got injured. With Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, the Nationals have a strong back end of the bullpen for Johnson to mix and match. With the departures of Burnett and Gonzalez, though, the Nationals are short on lefty relievers.

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    Atlanta Braves

    Manager: Fredi Gonzalez (third season).

    2012: 94-68, second place, lost wild-card game.

    Training Town: Kissimmee, Fla.

    Park: Champion Stadium, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

    First Workout: Feb. 12/15.

    He’s Here: CF B.J. Upton, OF Justin Upton, 3B Chris Johnson, C Gerald Laird, RHP Jordan Walden.

    He’s Outta Here: 3B Chipper Jones, INF-OF Martin Prado, RHP Randall Delgado, RHP Tommy Hanson, RHP Jair Jurrjens, CF Michael Bourn, C David Ross, RHP Chad Durbin, 1B-OF Eric Hinske, RHP Ben Sheets, OF Matt Diaz, RHP Peter Moylan, 1B Lyle Overbay, INF Jeff Baker, RHP Miguel Batista.

    Going campin’: Following the retirement of Jones, the Braves needed to restock their offense. The moves by general manager Frank Wren were more dramatic than expected. Wren signed B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25 million contract, the richest deal ever awarded a free agent by the Braves. Then he traded for Upton’s younger brother, Justin. Johnson, expected to platoon with Juan Francisco at third base, also arrived in the seven-player deal that sent Prado, Delgado and three minor leaguers to Arizona. The Braves are left with one of the most athletic outfields in baseball. The Upton brothers and right fielder Jason Heyward provide speed and power. The Braves also have a young lineup: Justin Upton, Heyward, first baseman Freddie Freeman and shortstop Andrelton Simmons are 25 or younger. The Braves are counting on Simmons, who batted .289 in 49 games as a rookie last season, to hit leadoff. A key for spring training will be the health of catcher Brian McCann, who is returning from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. McCann is expected to be cleared to hit and throw during camp, but he could miss the first two weeks of the season if doctors wait to clear him for diving and sliding. After making six straight All-Star teams, McCann struggled last season as he tried to play through the injury. He hit only .230, easily a career low. The Braves see a healthy McCann batting fourth in the lineup, but he’ll have to show he has regained his ability to drive the ball. Laird could open the season as the fill-in starter. Walden joins elite closer Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty as power arms in the bullpen. The first four spots of the rotation are set with Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Paul Maholm. Brandon Beachy, who had a strong start to the 2012 season before needing elbow ligament-replacement surgery, could return to the rotation by midseason. There will be competition this spring to determine who holds the No. 5 spot until Beachy returns. The trade of Hanson to the Angels for Walden clears the way for Julio Teheran, Sean Gilmartin and others to compete for the final spot.

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    Philadelphia Phillies

    Manager: Charlie Manuel (ninth season).

    2012: 81-81, third place.

    Training Town: Clearwater, Fla.

    Park: BrightHouse Networks Field.

    First Workout: Feb. 13/16.

    He’s Here: 3B Michael Young, CF Ben Revere, RF Delmon Young, RHP Mike Adams, LHP John Lannan, RHP Chad Durbin, RHP Aaron Cook.

    He’s Outta Here: RHP Vance Worley, 3B Placido Polanco, OF Juan Pierre, INF Ty Wigginton, OF Nate Schierholtz, RHP Josh Lindblom, RHP Jose Contreras, C Brian Schneider.

    Going campin’: For the first time since 2008, the Phillies won’t be the team to beat in the NL East at the start of spring training. After winning five straight division titles, the Phillies finished behind Washington and Atlanta last year. They’re counting on a roster filled with high-priced, aging stars to make another run. But there are several question marks. The biggest ones surround the health of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay. Utley hasn’t played in a Grapefruit League game the last two years because of a chronic knee condition that’s forced him to miss significant time at the start of the regular season. The five-time All-Star second baseman hopes to make his season debut in April instead of late May and late June as he did each of the last two years. Howard’s season began in mid-July last year as the big slugger recovered from a torn Achilles tendon. Howard is owed at least $105 million over the next five years, but the 2006 NL MVP hasn’t come close to matching that production the last few years. Halladay missed two months in the middle of last season and didn’t pitch up to his usual ace form even when he was healthy. The Phillies need all three players to earn their hefty contracts to give them a chance to contend. There’s uncertainty in the outfield, too. Revere was acquired from Minnesota to be the starting center fielder. Delmon Young, despite his defensive limitations, was signed to play right. He was mostly a designated hitter and played sparingly in left field for Detroit last year. Minor league home run champ Darin Ruf, former top prospect Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. will compete for playing time in left field. Michael Young, the seven-time All-Star with Texas, also makes the transition to everyday fielder after serving mostly as a DH the past couple of years. He returns to third base, a position he hasn’t played regularly since 2010. A rotation that once boasted four aces still has three, assuming Halladay resembles his old self. Cliff Lee was only 6-9 last year, but had a 3.16 ERA. Cole Hamels enjoyed his finest season and was rewarded with a $144 million contract. The bullpen, led by closer Jonathan Papelbon, may be Philadelphia’s strength. Adams, one of the most effective setup men in the majors, should help the Phillies avoid the problems they had in the eighth inning last year.

    ———

    New York Mets

    Manager: Terry Collins (third season).

    2012: 74-88, fourth place.

    Training Town: Port St. Lucie, Fla.

    Park: Tradition Field.

    First Workout: Feb. 13/18.

    He’s Here: RHP Shaun Marcum, C John Buck, C Travis d’Arnaud, OF Marlon Byrd, RHP LaTroy Hawkins, RHP Scott Atchison, INF Brandon Hicks, OF Collin Cowgill, OF Andrew Brown, C Anthony Recker, INF-OF Brian Bixler, INF Omar Quintanilla, LHP Pedro Feliciano, LHP Aaron Laffey, C Landon Powell, OF Jamie Hoffman.

    He’s Outta Here: RHP R.A. Dickey, OF Scott Hairston, LF Jason Bay, C Josh Thole, C Kelly Shoppach, CF Andres Torres, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Chris Young, RHP Ramon Ramirez, RHP Jon Rauch, RHP Manny Acosta, INF Ronny Cedeno, C Rob Johnson, C Mike Nickeas, LHP Justin Hampson, OF Fred Lewis.

    Going campin’: The frugal Mets were the last team to sign a big league free agent this winter, adding Marcum to the rotation with a $4 million, one-year deal. That doesn’t mean it was a quiet offseason, though, because the club made several major decisions. New York released Bay, an expensive bust, and committed to building around All-Star 3B David Wright by signing the face of the franchise to a $138 million, eight-year contract — the richest in team history. The Mets also traded Dickey, last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner, to Toronto for a touted package of prospects plus Buck. And they might still make a play for free-agent CF Michael Bourn and reliever Brandon Lyon. Besides that, GM Sandy Alderson has stood pat with an unproven outfield of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter while trying to fill bullpen and bench holes with no-names and aging veterans at bargain prices. Some are simply stopgap solutions for a team in the middle of a complex rebuilding project — even if the Mets don’t like to acknowledge that, for some reason. Alderson says the Mets have increased flexibility, and one or two big moves could quickly make them a contender. The biggest reason for optimism is the cadre of promising young pitchers in the system. Matt Harvey had an impressive debut last season and top prospect Zack Wheeler is getting close. Fans will be itching to see d’Arnaud before long, too. A premier catching prospect with power, he was acquired in the Dickey deal. Nieuwenhuis (foot), Duda (wrist), pitcher Dillon Gee (blood clot) and closer Frank Francisco (elbow surgery) are all coming off injuries and must show they are healthy during spring training. The same goes for Johan Santana, who enters the final year of his $137.5 million contract. None of the starters in the projected rotation reached 200 innings last year. Better days appear to be ahead, but the Mets face a tough road to success in a talented division. Thankfully, the Marlins could keep them out of last place again.

    ———

    Miami Marlins

    Manager: Mike Redmond (first season).

    2012: 69-93, fifth place.

    Training Town: Jupiter, Fla.

    Park: Roger Dean Stadium.

    First Workout: Feb. 12/15.

    He’s Here: SS Adeiny Hechavarria, 3B Placido Polanco, OF Juan Pierre, C Jeff Mathis, RHP John Maine, RHP Jon Rauch, RHP Chad Qualls, RHP Kevin Slowey, OF Austin Kearns.

    He’s Outta Here: Manager Ozzie Guillen, SS Jose Reyes, RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Heath Bell, RHP Carlos Zambrano, 1B Carlos Lee, C John Buck, INF-OF Emilio Bonifacio, LHP Randy Choate, RHP Chad Gaudin, RHP Juan Oviedo.

    Going campin’: The Marlins’ free-spending ways in their new ballpark lasted less than a year, and the franchise’s latest purge sent Reyes, Johnson and Buehrle packing to Toronto. As a result, the Marlins are back to a small payroll, small crowds and modest expectations. They’re counting on youngsters Nathan Eovaldi and Jacob Turner to make the rotation, which leaves only one spot open, and the starting lineup is mostly set — although there’s little protection for slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Hechavarria is considered a potential star at shortstop. Redmond, a first-time manager, has some sorting out to do with the bullpen and bench, and management will be eager to get a peak at the organization’s top prospects, 21-year-old outfielder Christian Yelich and 20-year-old right-hander Jose Fernandez. Both are expected to start the season in Double-A, but either or both might join the Marlins at some point in 2013.
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