Previewing Must-Watch Events of This Week's Spring Training Games
Teams from all over the league are finally getting into the swing of spring training, as pitchers and catchers have been around for a couple of weeks now in advance of this weekend's spring games.
Spring training provides young players and seasoned veterans alike with the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of a spot on an Opening Day roster, and while cuts are a ways off, the pressure is always palpable.
With the first weekend of Cactus and Grapefruit League games in our rear view, here are some matchups worth checking in on this week.
Monday: Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners
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The Angels and Mariners will square off many times during the regular season, and start the week off with their first matchup of the year on Monday.
We all know that Los Angeles has plenty of offense packed into its lineup, but the Mariners are hoping they've got some power of their own in Jason Bay, who is finally feeling healthy and now hopes to live up to the hype that came along with him when he signed a massive deal with the Mets.
Tuesday: New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies
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The Yankees have been dealt a tough blow already this spring as a fractured forearm is going to sideline Curtis Granderson for 10 weeks according to Mike Axisa of CBS Sports, so the team certainly hopes that there aren't any additional setbacks when it comes to the returns of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.
Roy Halladay has already made his spring training debut for the Phillies, who are looking to make their way back to the postseason after a disappointing 2012 season, and with Cole Hamels ready to take the lead for Philadelphia, the rotation should be in good hands.
Wednesday: San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Angels
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The Los Angeles Angels may be able to talk up their young, star-studded roster that now has another weapon in Josh Hamilton. But as we stand today, San Francisco is the one holding the World Series trophy.
Mike Trout is the best young player in baseball and will hopefully be able to avoid a sophomore slump. In addition, the absence of Torii Hunter may not even be felt with Hamilton in the mix.
In San Francisco's camp, the Giants have brought back their key figures from last fall's run, including Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan. The team also has to be thrilled that catcher Buster Posey is passing up on this year's World Baseball Classic to focus on defending the title.
Thursday: Chicago White Sox vs. Milwaukee Brewers
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With teams like the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds heading into the 2013 season as favorites in their respective divisions, the White Sox and Brewers will be underdogs this season, but they certainly can't be overlooked.
Chicago has a strong starting rotation with youngster Chris Sale partnering with Jake Peavy and John Danks, and while Milwaukee has its share of deficiencies in the rotation, the Brewers have plenty of offense with Ryan Braun already looking good this spring.
Losing Mat Gamel once again to a knee injury will no doubt hurt the Brewers heading into the season, but the offense of Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart (once he returns) should help make up the difference.
Friday: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels
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With plenty of offense leading the way for the Los Angeles Angels, it will be interesting to see how Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols take their swings against the impressive pitching staff in the Dodgers camp.
Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu have been added to improve an already strong rotation led by former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, and with plenty of offense in their own camp, we're seeing a matchup of two World Series-caliber ballclubs.
Saturday: Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins had the worst pitching staff in all of baseball in 2012, so it's no surprise that only one starting pitcher from last year is slated to return in 2013.
Mike Pelfrey is among the team's offseason signings, and after missing almost all of last season, the former top-10 draft pick is looking to get his career back on track.
Should he get the nod on Saturday against the Red Sox, his arm will be tested against a roster that's looking to rebound from a disappointing past couple of seasons with a plethora of young talent, and starting pitcher John Lackey, who is hoping to put his injury troubles behind him.