American League West

Spring Training 2003

February 13, 2003|By Roch Kubatko

Oakland Athletics

Manager: Ken Macha

2002 finish: 103-59, first place

Story line: Art Howe has taken his quiet manner and golden touch to Flushing, N.Y., which gives Macha his first shot at managing. If the A's season grades out to an F, guess who's getting the blame.

Changing faces: Keith Foulke has replaced Billy Koch as the closer. Erubiel Durazo was obtained from the Diamondbacks to provide power and center fielder Chris Singleton was signed for defense. Mark Johnson replaces Greg Myers as the backup catcher. Left-handers John Halama and Ed Yarnall will try to join the rotation. Ray Durham, David Justice and Cory Lidle are gone.

Burning question: Will Miguel Tejada's contract status become a distraction the A's can't afford? He can become a free agent after the season, and the reigning AL Most Valuable Player will be a hot commodity on the market. The A's must decide whether to go against their nature and spend big to keep him.

Anaheim Angels

Manager: Mike Scioscia

2002 finish: 99-63, second place

Story line: The Angels will try to repeat as world champions with a team that looks very familiar. Why fix what isn't broken? They still believe in situational hitting, where getting on base and advancing runners produces better results than waiting for a three-run homer.

Changing faces: The Angels did minimal work on their championship roster, allowing reserve outfielders Orlando Palmeiro and Alex Ochoa to leave as free agents and signing outfielder Eric Owens and left-hander Rich Rodriguez. With Dennis Cook gone, Rodriguez becomes the team's designated ancient left-hander.

Burning question: Has the Disney magic worn off? The Angels don't think so, and they're eager to prove it. This is a blue-collar bunch that won't get fat and lazy. As long as they stay healthy, they have a shot at repeating.

Seattle Mariners

Manager: Bob Melvin

2002 finish: 93-69, third place

Story line: Melvin has some big shoes to fill with Lou Piniella's relocation to Tampa Bay. The former Oriole never has managed at any level except the Arizona Fall League, and his hiring is a gamble for an organization that still expects to contend. At least he's surrounded by veterans who don't require a firm hand.

Changing faces: Outfielder Randy Winn arrived from Tampa Bay as compensation for Piniella's leaving. Jamey Wright signed a minor-league contract and could make the rotation. The bench is bolstered by John Mabry and Greg Colbrunn. Ruben Sierra and Jose Offerman are gone, and the pitching staff lost John Halama, Ismael Valdes and James Baldwin.

Burning question: With most of the roster set, Melvin's main objective is getting the team ready in the same efficient manner as Piniella. Is he equipped to do it? The Mariners begin their season in Tokyo, so Melvin is guaranteed of accomplishing at least one thing Piniella never did.

Texas Rangers

Manager: Buck Showalter

2002 finish: 72-90, fourth place

Story line: It's a new era in Texas, where Showalter has left the ESPN studio to replace Jerry Narron. The good news: Alex Rodriguez remains on the roster. The bad news: There aren't 24 clones.

Changing faces: Anyone want to trade places with Einar Diaz, who replaces probable Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez? No pressure there. Outfielder Ruben Sierra returns to the organization for a third term. In the latest bid to repair the bullpen, the Rangers added Esteban Yan, left-hander Aaron Fultz and former Boston closer Ugueth Urbina. They also signed outfielder Doug Glanville and pitchers Ismael Valdes and John Thomson, and acquired pitcher Ryan Drese from the Indians as part of a massive overhaul.

Burning question: Were the Rangers wrong to let Rodriguez leave as a free agent after 10 Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances? His offense won't be missed as much if outfielder Juan Gonzalez can stay healthy for a change. Gonzalez is in the final year of his two-year, $24 million contract, so he'll want to impress.

Teams are listed in order of last year's finish.

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