Spring Training 2002

American League

February 14, 2002

East Division

New York Yankees

Manager: Joe Torre

2001 finish: 95-65, first place

Story line: The dynasty was interrupted by a shocking loss to the Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the World Series. The Yankees have retooled their roster, however, and are poised to make another championship run.

Off-season activity: Needing more offense to complement their potent pitching staff, the Yankees signed one of the biggest free agents, slugging first baseman Jason Giambi. They also added outfielders Rondell White and John Vander Wal, third baseman Robin Ventura and pitchers David Wells and Steve Karsay while rivaling the cross-town Mets for busiest team this winter.

Man of the hour: Giambi is supposed to push the Yankees past all the contenders by providing the same run production he did with the Athletics. He's carrying the burden of being the perceived difference-maker for a team whose offensive shortcomings became evident in the postseason.

Boston Red Sox

Manager: Joe Kerrigan

2001 finish: 82-79, second place

Story line: Team Turmoil is hoping for a much smoother ride in 2002, but the winter included unsettled ownership, a lame-duck general manager and serious questions about Kerrigan's abilities as a manager.

Off-season activity: The Red Sox underwent a character makeover by dumping outfielder Carl Everett, a lightning rod for controversy who only brought pitcher Darren Oliver in return. The rotation should benefit more by the additions of Dustin Hermanson and John Burkett, and center fielder Johnny Damon brings much-needed speed atop the order. Infielders Tony Clark, Quilvio Veras and Carlos Baerga could be important contributors.

Man of the hour: If shortstop Nomar Garciaparra's wrist continues to be a problem, the Red Sox can forget about contending for a playoff berth.

Toronto Blue Jays

Manager: Buck Martinez

2001 finish: 80-82, third place

Story line: The Blue Jays did some salary dumping, with rumors of more to come, while trying to retain the look of a playoff contender. Realistically, the club shouldn't attempt to extend its reach beyond the wild card.

Off-season activity: The Blue Jays rid themselves of shortstop Alex Gonzalez, designated hitter Brad Fullmer and closer Billy Koch. The outfield still was crowded as spring training approached, with Raul Mondesi's name continuing to circulate in trade talks and former first-round pick Vernon Wells trying to stick around for good.

Man of the hour: Third baseman Eric Hinske could make the Koch trade with the Athletics look a whole lot better if he proves as good as advertised. He also could quiet the many critics still gnashing their teeth over last year's release of Tony Batista.


Manager: Mike Hargrove

2001 finish: 63-98, fourth place

Story line: Coming off four consecutive fourth-place finishes, the Orioles attempt to make progress while giving their prospects another season to get ready. Will the club find an identity without Cal Ripken?

Off-season activity: It was pretty quiet, with a true leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter, No. 1 starter and closer remaining on the club's wish list. Left fielder Marty Cordova signed a $9.1 million, three-year contract, and center fielder Chris Singleton was acquired in a trade. Pitcher Chris Brock was obtained during the winter meetings.

Man of the hour: Tony Batista steps into some pretty large shoes at third base. If he can regain the power stroke that once produced a 41-homer season in Toronto, the Orioles would be ecstatic.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Manager: Hal McRae

2001 season: 62-100, fifth place

Story line: The Devil Rays know every crack and leaky pipe in the division cellar after spending so much time there. Contraction would bring a merciful end to this sorry franchise, but it's likely to remain in existence and in the same predicament unless top prospects are ready to contribute.

Off-season activity: Minimal, at best. The Devil Rays signed outfielder Troy O'Leary to a minor-league contract with a spring training invitation. Otherwise, the club was just as dormant in the winter as during the summer months.

Man of the hour: He may not bring name recognition, but Tanyon Sturtze is supposed to be the staff's No. 1 starter. If nothing else, he can gobble up innings, but the Devil Rays need much more. - Roch Kubatko

Central Division

Cleveland Indians Manager: Charlie Manuel

2001 season: 91-71, first place

Story line: The Indians will attempt to stand tall again despite leaning toward youth when making changes to their roster. They'll soon find out whether trading away Roberto Alomar was a mistake, and whether a different outfield will bring the desired results.

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