Thirty teams have their eyes on October in 2017. Twelve of them started getting their dreams in gear today.Spring Training has sprung, and Feb. 15 is the second official first-workout date for Major League pitchers and catchers. Sixteen teams had their first workouts on Tuesday, and a dozen more take
Thirty teams have their eyes on October in 2017. Twelve of them started getting their dreams in gear today.
Spring Training has sprung, and Feb. 15 is the second official first-workout date for Major League pitchers and catchers. Sixteen teams had their first workouts on Tuesday, and a dozen more take the field at camps in Arizona and Florida to begin the push of the baseball season. The remaining two (the Dodgers and Nationals) will follow suit on Thursday.
• Spring Training info
Here are the teams working out for the first time today, along with what to look for from their pitchers and catchers:
Atlanta Braves: The Braves have talented young arms, and general manager John Coppolella has retooled the rotation for 2017 by adding some veterans. Right-handers Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey and veteran lefty Jaime Garcia have been brought in for innings and experience, and they should provide leadership for a staff that also brings back ace Julio Teheran and hard-throwing righty Mike Foltynewicz. Matt Wisler offers depth, while Jim Johnson returns as closer, and Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki will round out the catching corps.
Chicago Cubs: The World Series champs said goodbye to their late-season closer, Albertin Chapman, but they filled that vacancy with Wade Davis after trading Jorge Soler to the Royals. The starting rotation retains its top four in Jonathan Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jacob Arrieta and John Lackey, but the departure of Jason Hammel leaves an opening that could be taken by Mike Montgomery or new acquisition Brett Anderson. The bullpen added more experience with Koji Uehara, while the catching crew lost David Ross to retirment, it returns Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero -- and maybe a little of Kyle Schwarber.
Houston Astros: The big addition on the pitcher-catcher front for the retooling Astros is backstop Brian McCann, who brings a still-potent bat and leadership behind the plate. Houston will need better starting pitching than it got last year. Hopes are high for a Cy Young Young Award-caliber rebound by ace Dallas Keuchel, plus solid work from Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers, new acquisition Charlie Morton and holdover Mike Fiers. Ken Giles comes back as closer.
Los Angeles Angels: Injuries ravaged the Angels' rotation in 2016 and there's still uncertainty there, but there are a lot of contenders for starting-pitching spots. Garrett Richards heads the pack after opting for treatment rather than surgery for his partially torn UCL. Tyler Skaggs comes in healthy after his own Tommy John recovery shortened his '16 season to 10 starts. Ricky Nolasco and Matthew Shoemaker will provide innings, the Angels signed Jesse Chavez to start, and depth will be provided by a cast that includes Alex Meyer. A healthy Huston Street will try to win back the closer's role, but Cam Bedrosian should push him. As of now, it'll be between Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez for starting-catching duties.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers showed promise in 2016 and they will try to take their game up a notch this year. The starting rotation is largely intact, with Junior Guerra, Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta and Matt Garza all returning. Neftali Feliz joins the bullpen as a closer after resurrecting his career with the Pirates last year, and new acquisition Jett Bandy will compete for catching reps against Manny Pina and Andrew Susac.
Minnesota Twins:Ervin Santana and Hector Santiago are back to lead this rotation, with Kyle Gibson, youngster Jose Berrios and veterans Tyler Duffey and Phil Hughes rounding out the starting crew. Brandon Kintzler and Glen Perkins both have experience as closer, and new catcher Jason Castro should get the bulk of the work behind the plate.
New York Yankees: The top four of the starting rotation -- Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Carsten Sabathia and Luis Severino -- will get a lot of publicity, but the presence of phenom catcher Gary Sanchez, who exploded onto the big league scene last year, will get even more, as will the return of Chapman as closer.
Oakland A's:Sonny Gray is slated to get the ball on Opening Day for a young rotation that brings back Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea and will be looking for contributions from Jharel Cotton, Andrew Triggs, Daniel Mengden (who's currently sidelined after foot surgery) and others. Ryan Madson returns as closer, and he will get setup help from new acquisition Santiago Casilla. The catching corps will continue to be manned by Stephen Vogt, Josh Phegley and Bruce Maxwell.
San Diego Padres: There is opportunity in the competition for spots in the Padres' starting rotation, and Clayton Richard, Luis Perdomo, Jhoulys Chacin, Christian Friedrich and Jarred Cosart are among the top contenders. Austin Hedges and Christian Bethancourt comprise the catching tangent, and Brandon Maurer appears to be the leading candidate for closer duties.
Seattle Mariners: Seattle added starters Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly in the offseason, and they'll join a rotation headed by ace Felix Hernandez, No. 2 man Hisashi Iwakuma and left-hander James Paxton. Edwin Diaz will start the season as closer after taking over that role last summer and flourishing in his rookie year. The Mariners will stick with young Mike Zunino behind the plate, but they brought in veteran backstop Carlos Ruiz for insurance.
Texas Rangers: The imposing top of the Rangers' rotation, Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, are back and ready for a stellar 2017. New faces Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross add intrigue to the starting staff, which also includes holdovers Martin Perez and A.J. Griffin. Sam Dyson should resume his role as closer heading into the season, with Jonathan Lucroy back as catcher ahead of Robinson Chirinos.
Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays have been grooming young starter Aaron Sanchez, and this season will give him his shot at becoming a true ace. Solid veterans Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ will back him up, with Marcus Stroman and Francisco Liriano rounding out a staff that's fresh off another American League Championship Series. Roberto Osuna returns as closer, with Russell Martin behind the plate once again as the workhorse catcher.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.