Major League Baseball: Players Looking for a Fresh Start on Their New Teams
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It’s a new year and a new season for Major League Baseball. From Seattle to Miami a number of players around the league will be suiting up for different teams in 2013.
Coming off disappointing seasons, these players are looking to capitalize on the change of scenery and help their teams win.
With spring training now underway, the next few weeks will forecast individual performance and build chemistry as players learn their new roles.
Here are some players looking for a fresh start on their new teams.
Travis Hafner, Yankees
Longtime Indian Travis Hafner is looking to capitalize on his new role in pinstripes.
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Travis Hafner is coming off a disappointing injury-filled season as he enters the twilight of his career.
Last season, Hafner hit just .228 with 12 home runs and 32 RBI. The 35-year-old veteran underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in June and struggled offensively upon his return.
With Curtis Granderson out for 10 weeks, the Yankees will be leaning on Hafner to produce as a designated hitter. Hafner needs to concentrate on maintaining his health and adjusting his swing to give the Yankees a return on their investment.
After Hafner was traded from Texas his rookie year, he would spend the next 10 seasons in Cleveland as the face of the franchise.
Now, Hafner will put on the pinstripes and attempt to push the Yankees towards another playoff appearance.
Ervin Santana, Royals
Ervin Santana will suit up for the Royals this season.
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At the end of October, the Kansas City Royals traded for Ervin Santana to add another piece to their rotation.
Santana’s tenure as an Angel has been defined by inconsistency. The 30-year-old was a Cy Young candidate in 2008 when he went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA, but then followed that performance with a 5.03 ERA in 2009.
Last season, Santana went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA and joins the Royals with one year remaining on his contract.
A change of scenery might be what Santana needs to return to form and contribute to a rotation consisting of James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis.
Expect Santana to improve upon his 2012 line and make the Royals’ $12 million investment pay dividends.
B.J. Upton, Braves
B.J. Upton will join his brother in the Braves' outfield.
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There’s been a lot of hype surrounding B.J. Upton after the Atlanta Braves dished out a five-year/$75 million contract.
Upton, 28, hit .246 with 28 home runs and 78 RBI last season.
Upton was the Rays' top prospect after the 2003 season and after a breakout season in 2007, he’s noticeably fallen off offensively.
A new World Series-caliber organization and the added bonus of playing alongside his brother puts Upton on the path to success. Upton’s relationship with the Tampa Bay organization was shaky at times. Manager Joe Madden controversially benched his star in 2010 after he struggled at the plate in June.
Upton’s $75 million contract comes with job security and will definitely take some of the pressure off.
Look for Upton to have a breakout year and settle nicely into his niche on his new team.
Kendrys Morales, Mariners
Kendrys Morales should be an important piece to the Mariners' lineup.
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The Seattle Mariners noticeably upgraded their offense this offseason by acquiring Kendrys Morales from the Angels.
After Seattle scored just 619 runs last season, the Mariners are looking to Morales to be a leading run producer in the heart of this lineup.
Morales broke his leg celebrating a grand slam in May 2010 and missed all of the 2011 season recovering.
Last year proved that health was not an issue for Morales. The 29-year-old batted .273 with 22 home runs and 73 RBI.
Expect similar production from Morales in 2013 as he assumes his new role.
Carlos Pena, Astros
Carlos Pena will be taking a leadership role for his new squad.
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Pena is looking to bounce back in a new environment after a poor 2012 campaign where he batted just .197 in 600 plate appearances.
The Astros will be struggling for wins this season. The situation offers a perfect setting for Pena to rejuvenate his career and return to form.
With the Astros moving to the American League this spring, Pena will also be the first everyday designated hitter in Astros history.
Expectations are low in Houston and Pena won’t have the added pressures he experienced in Tampa Bay. Look for Pena to be the leader on this young franchise and improve upon his 2012 numbers.
Stephen Drew, Red Sox
Stephen Drew is healthy and ready to contribute.
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Shortstop Stephen Drew will follow in his brother’s footsteps and become the second Drew to wear a Red Sox uniform.
Drew, 29, spent portions of 2011 and 2012 recovering from a broken ankle. The once highly coveted prospect has strung together a collection of mediocre statistics over the last few years.
Now, Drew enters spring training completely healthy and ready to resume his career. The Red Sox hardly gambled on Drew, signing him to a one-year, $9.5 million deal. If he can return to the Stephen Drew of old, he can be the offensive catalyst behind this Red Sox lineup and increase his team’s chances of returning to postseason baseball.
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