National League West

Spring Training 2003

February 13, 2003|By Peter Schmuck

Arizona Diamondbacks

Manager: Bob Brenly

2002 finish: 98-64, first place

Story line: The Diamondbacks ran aground in the playoffs last year, but they'll have offensive cornerstone Luis Gonzalez back from injury and, of course, those two monsters in the starting rotation to lead them back into October.

Changing faces: The acquisition of right-hander Elmer Dessens from the Reds makes the rotation more than a two-man operation, and the arrival of several veteran relievers - Mike Jackson, Ricky Bottalico and Manny Aybar - deepens the bullpen. The D'backs traded first baseman Erubiel Durazo and catcher Damian Miller and allowed veteran pitchers Rick Helling, Brian Anderson, Mike Morgan and Mike Fetters to become free agents.

Burning question: What can Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling do for an encore after going a combined 47-12 with 650 strikeouts? It can't get any better.

San Francisco Giants

Manager: Felipe Alou

2002 finish: 95-66, second place

Story line: Dusty Baker and Jeff Kent are gone. Barry Bonds is a year older. The Giants are a much different team from the one that came within a couple of innings of winning the 2002 World Series, but they still are considered a strong contender in the NL West.

Changing faces: Kent jumped to the Astros. David Bell signed as a free agent with the Phillies. Starter Russ Ortiz was dealt to the Braves for left-hander Damian Moss. Reggie Sanders was not re-signed. The loss of Kent will hurt the most, but the Giants may have a more productive lineup overall with the arrival of Jose Cruz, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ray Durham and Marquis Grissom.

Burning question: How will Bonds stay motivated now that he doesn't have Kent to kick around anymore? New manager Alou will probably figure something out.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Jim Tracy

2002 finish: 92-70, third place

Story line: The return of injured starters Kevin Brown and Darren Dreifort should help the Dodgers remain competitive in a challenging divisional race, but their offensive potential remains uncertain.

Changing faces: Longtime first baseman Eric Karros and infielder Mark Grudzielanek were traded to the Cubs and several other veteran players - most notably Marquis Grissom, Omar Daal and Jesse Orosco - left via free agency. The Dodgers signed first baseman Fred McGriff and acquired catcher Todd Hundley.

Burning question: Can the multinational starting rotation of Brown, Dreifort, Andy Ashby, Odalis Perez, Hideo Nomo and Kazuhisa Ishii stay healthy?

Colorado Rockies

Manager: Clint Hurdle

2002 finish: 73-89, fourth place

Story line: For the third year in a row, the Rockies arrive in spring training with a heavily revamped roster. General manager Dan O'Dowd may be down to his last strike.

Changing faces: Catcher Charles Johnson, outfielder Preston Wilson and power-hitting infielder Jose Hernandez head a long list of new acquisitions. The Rockies also added four veteran pitchers to a staff that shed big-money starter Mike Hampton in a complex deal with the Marlins and Braves. Catcher Sandy Alomar, third baseman Todd Zeile, outfielder Juan Pierre, left-hander Kent Mercker and several others also moved on.

Burning question: Will the Rockies ever find the right balance between pitching and run production? They should regain some of the clout they lost last winter, but need another big performance from 2002 Rookie of the Year Jason Jennings and more from veteran Denny Neagle.

San Diego Padres

Manager: Bruce Bochy

2002 finish: 66-96, fifth place

Story line: The Padres were so banged up last year that no one knows how good they can be if they can stay healthy.

Changing faces: General manager Kevin Towers has shaken up the roster, bringing in a raft of low-priced veterans to round out the club. Jesse Orosco, the oldest player in the majors, will be in camp. So will another former Oriole, Brady Anderson, as well as former Indians pitchers Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright, and infielders Homer Bush, Mark Loretta and Keith Lockhart. The Padres let go of pitchers Brett Tomko and Mike Holtz, shortstop Deivi Cruz and aging outfielders Ron Gant and Ray Lankford.

Burning question: Is promising Sean Burroughs ready for prime time after a difficult rookie season?

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

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