Sweetheart 16: Club you love on field today?

Teams get back to work with revived hopes

February 14th, 2017

The national pastime is alive and well and percolating with a spring pulse, just in time for Feb. 14. Fittingly, the holiday that celebrates love will double as one of the most anticipated days of the year for the baseball fan. Yes, it's time for a Valentine's Day gift that far surpasses a box of chocolates: More than half of MLB's clubs are holding their first workouts.
The weather in Arizona and Florida is looking good. The renovated rosters are ready to begin the grind that all 30 teams hope will end up where the Chicago Cubs did in November -- with a World Series title.
And today, a sweet 16 of big league clubs officially began working toward that goal, with the first formal workouts being held this morning.
Dates for each team's first workouts
Here are the teams taking the field today and what to look for from their pitchers and catchers, followed by the other clubs' opening workouts:
Arizona Diamondbacks: Questions abound for a team on the rebound. The D-backs have a new general manager in Mike Hazen and a new manager in Torey Lovullo, and if they're going to orchestrate a turnaround, they'll need success on the mound. Ace Zack Greinke still heads up the rotation, which added an intriguing piece in young , acquired from Seattle in the trade. will once again try to find his form, while new additions Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta shore up the catching corps and assumes closing duties.

Baltimore Orioles: The Orioles contended last season and could again in 2017. A solid rotation comes back mostly intact, with Chris Tillman, , , and penciled in and working out this morning. and are slated to be the catchers. Zach Britton returns to the closing role after a brilliant season.
Boston Red Sox: All eyes will be on Chris Sale, the perennial American League Cy Young Award candidate who was landed in a mega-deal with the White Sox over the offseason. However, plenty of eyes will be on the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, , another former AL Cy Young Award winner, lefty , plus midseason addition and knuckleballer and a beefed-up bullpen with newcomer . Yes, the Red Sox are stacked with pitching on paper, and today will mark the first day of seeing how it all plays out on the field. Behind the plate, we'll see what transpires for reps between contenders , and .

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox unloaded Sale to get younger overall, but the pitching staff that will warm up at Camelback Ranch today has a veteran feel. takes over for Sale as the staff ace and will be joined by young lefty plus more experienced arms in , and and closer . Keep an eye on , who could seize starting duties behind the plate.
Cincinnati Reds: Cincinnati has a mixture of youth and veteran moxie, but takes the reins as the ace after an impressive 2016 season. Young left-hander hopes to continue to emerge, and veterans and and youngster will round out the rotation while the Reds await the return of Homer Bailey from injury. Also returning is catcher , who missed most of 2016 because of surgery (hip) and he will be challenged by .
Cleveland Indians: The Indians lasted until the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series despite right-hander being limited to three innings of relief during the series and missing the postseason with a broken bone in his pitching hand. Those guys are back to bolster what looks like a formidable staff for the AL champs. Former AL Cy Young Award winner is the unquestioned ace, Carrasco and Salazar will fit right back in, and the Tribe also has reliable depth in , Josh Tomlin, Mike Clevinger, and . and give the catching corps stability and experience.

Colorado Rockies: New manager Bud Black has to like where this team is headed. Young starters and had their moments in 2016 and will be back in the mix today at Salt River Fields. They'll be joined in the Rockies' rotation by veteran righties and in addition to 21-year-old and 24-year-old . Greg Holland will try to rebound from Tommy John surgery and excel in the closer's role that he previously held in Kansas City.
Detroit Tigers: A strength in 2016 figures to be a strength again this year. AL Cy Young Award runner-up returned to brilliant form last year and heads up a strong rotation. He'll be followed by AL Rookie of the Year Award winner , veteran and a mixture of youth and experience in young lefties and plus righties Mike Pelfrey and in a deep and talented group. will be back behind the plate, and Alex Avila has returned to Detroit to back him up. comes back as the closer for another spin in his familiar role.
Kansas City Royals: The Royals have rebuilt the rotation that helped them win a World Series in 2015, but they are still reeling from the tragic loss of , who died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic last month. Lefty Danny Duffy's breakout 2016 sets the stage for his emergence as a staff ace, and the Royals will be counting on veterans , and to round out a solid top four. Also on the staff are , , Mike Minor and . Gold Glove catcher returns and is set to back him up. Following the departures of Holland and , it looks like it'll be 's turn to be the closer.

Miami Marlins: The Marlins must enter a new season without their ace, , who died in a boating accident in September. Miami will go with as its ace and newly acquired veteran in the No. 2 role. Hard-throwing lefty showed signs of brilliance in 2016 and will be back along with Tom Koehler and righty Dan Straily, who was acquired in a swap with the Reds. Jeff Locke provides depth. At catcher, J.T. Realmuto will be back after an excellent 2016 season, and veteran A.J. Ellis provides security. and are among the new additions to the bullpen.
New York Mets: The young, exciting Mets rotation is back at it, and this camp should draw as much attention as any for the pure talent on the mound. , , a returning Matt Harvey, and a healthy Zack Wheeler are intriguing enough, but the terrific work of and in 2016 makes this group deeper. New York will be hoping for a healthy season from young catcher , who will be backed up by veteran and . returns as closer.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are getting better in a hurry, and they have good arms all over the rotation. Veterans and offseason trade acquisition  provide innings and dependability atop the rotation, but youngsters , and Vince Velasquez have a lot of upside. , and prospect will compete for the bulk of the catching work. will be back as the closer.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates didn't make the postseason last year but are driven to return to October. They'll need their ace, , to be healthy, and he'll be back this morning to lead that rotation. He'll be joined by , , and plus other contenders, including . leads the catching corps and is accompanied by and . Tony Watson takes over as closer and will be aided by new bullpen addition .
St. Louis Cardinals: The top pitcher-and-catcher combination on the Cardinals, and , are about as solid and dependable as it gets in Major League Baseball. But there's a lot more talent in this Redbirds' rotation, including , a rebounding , reliable Mike Leake and and up-and-comer . The bullpen adds lefty .

San Francisco Giants: The Giants won the World Series in 2010, '12 and '14 in part because of great pitching and in part because of the great pitching of ace . He's back, along with another usual National League Cy Young Award contender in , hard-throwing right-hander Jeff Samardzija and last year's late trade addition, lefty Matt Moore. Also competing for innings will be , and . takes over closer duties, and remains the stalwart All-Star behind the plate.
Tampa Bay Rays:Chris Archer stepped up late in 2016 and will likely have to do it again for the Rays to contend, but there's a lot of talent behind him in this rotation, which also includes hard-throwing Jake Odorizzi and . The progress of Alex Cobb in his return from injury will be intriguing to watch, as will the development of prospect , acquired from the Dodgers in the deal. Alex Colome returns to the closer role while and Curt Casali will hold down the catching duties until new acquisition is ready to return from knee surgery.
On Wednesday, the A's, Astros, Angels, Blue Jays, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Mariners, Padres Rangers, Twins and Yankees will take the field for the first time. On Thursday, the last two will break the ice: the Dodgers and Nationals.
The first full-squad workouts commence on Friday, starting with the Cardinals, D-backs, Giants, Marlins, Orioles, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds and Royals.