SPRING FORWARD

Three intriguing story lines to keep an eye on as pitchers and catchers get ready to report
February 09, 2015

THE PADRES

General manager A.J. Preller spent the off-season adding power to a team that was last in the NL in runs, batting average and slugging average; now Bud Black has to figure out how to deploy all that new talent. None of the big righthanded hitters San Diego brought in—Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers—is an adequate centerfielder, especially in Petco. Black also has to placate incumbent outfielders such as Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin and Will Venable. The infield, meanwhile, could be one of the worst in baseball. The Padres have more talent, but it's not yet certain they have a much better baseball team.

THE CUBANS

From Yasmany Tomas in Arizona to Rusney Castillo in Boston, the newest wave of Cuban baseball talent will continue to make its mark. Jose Abreu looks to build on his Rookie of the Year campaign for a newly contending White Sox team. Jose Fernandez will return from Tommy John surgery at midseason to help the Marlins press for a wild card. The Dodgers' Yasiel Puig is the best position player on one of the game's best teams. Then there's the impending bidding war for 19-year-old infielder Yoan Moncada, who will have all the big-budget teams ready to write checks.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ

The shamed third baseman/DH resumes his fractured career this spring, at 39. Setting aside the off-field shenanigans, is there any chance he can contribute? Rodriguez was a slightly above-average hitter in limited playing time at 37. Is it possible that a year off allowed Rodriguez to get healthy for a late-career bounce back? The Yankees may not like the idea, but they need production from a player still owed $61 million over three years.

PHOTORON VESELY
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)