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MLB Spring Training 2013 Schedule: Top Tuesday Games Featuring Title Contenders

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 11:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees bats during Game Four of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on October 11, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 26, 2013

Although the outcome of spring training games means very little, the things that happen during the exhibitions are useful. It can be an unexpected player emerging as a potential contributor or a player who struggled last season starting to get back on track.

Tuesday's slate features a few games pitting teams that are entering 2013 as World Series contenders against each other. It includes to marquee divisional matchups. Those teams will be seeing each other a lot between now and October.

So it should be a pretty interesting day of spring training baseball to keep fans occupied as the wait for the World Baseball Classic and Opening Day continues. For a complete look at the upcoming schedule, visit MLB's official site.

 

Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves

Chipper Jones is gone, but the Braves have retooled their lineup by adding the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., into the fold to provide some pop. Along with Jason Heyward, they have one of the league's most dangerous outfields.

Atlanta will need strong seasons from all three to keep up with the Nationals, who outpaced them by four games last season. Washington has a terrific starting rotation, which is headlined by Stephen Strasburg, who should be under far less restrictions this season.

This is a battle that should go right down to the season's final weeks once again. The Nationals will probably be the more consistent of the two teams, but the Braves have just as much upside as any team in baseball.

 

New York Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies

The Yankees suffered the first major blow of the spring when Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch. He's expected to miss 10 weeks with a broken forearm. They should be able to overcome one serious injury, but their lack of depth leaves them hoping for no further bad luck.

Philadelphia should benefit from the lack of attention its getting due to the Nationals and Braves. Expectations were sky high last season and injury woes stopped the Phillies from coming anywhere close to matching them. They should be under less pressure in 2013.

These teams battled in the World Series four years ago. Aging rosters and marquee moves by teams within their divisions have caused them to slip in the minds of some, but if they can stay healthy, both have enough talent to make a serious run.

 

San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

San Francisco has won two of the past three championships thanks to a top-notch pitching staff and a scrappy lineup built for postseason success. The formula remains the same heading into this season, meaning it's impossible to leave the Giants out of the contender conversation.

The Dodgers have been working hard over the past two seasons to join that group. The offense should be vastly improved, especially if Carl Crawford can stay healthy and get close to his old form. Matt Kemp should return to his MVP standards, too.

Zack Greinke's arrival should help the Dodgers keep pace with the Giants better than they did last season. Both teams are a threat in the National League, but San Francisco remains the better bet until Los Angeles shows all that money is well spent.

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