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Baseball / Sports

Spring training capsules for the National League

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NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

Chicago Cubs (Mesa, Ariz. spring training site)

The Cubs open a new spring training facility under new manager Rick Renteria with a goal of returning to competitive mode. Former Brewers setup man Jose Veras has a foot in the door to be the closer, but others will be auditioned if he has a shaky spring.

Cincinnati Reds (Goodyear, Ariz.)

New manager Bryan Price doesn't have a lot of holes to fill, despite a quiet off-season for the team. If speedster Billy Hamilton proves he can get on base regularly in the leadoff spot, he could create havoc on the base paths.

Milwaukee Brewers (Phoenix)

The focus in camp will be the right side of the infield. Veterans Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay will battle for playing time at first base with Juan Francisco, and prospect Scooter Gennett will try to show he deserves to play ahead of injury-prone Rickie Weeks.

Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton, Fla.)

The Pirates spent the entire off-season trying to fill a void at first base without success and must figure out the best option there. With workhorse A.J. Burnett gone, there is a spot to be won in the starting rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals (Jupiter, Fla.)

Rookie Kolten Wong will get the chance to prove he should be the regular at second base, but veteran Mark Ellis is on hand as insurance. After a season-plus at first base, Allen Craig is now the everyday rightfielder and has the entire camp to get comfortable there.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.)

The Braves hope either Brandon Beachy or Gavin Floyd can recover from injuries soon enough to replace departed Tim Hudson in the rotation. Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton will try to put their dreadful 2013 seasons behind them and get off to a good start at the plate.

Miami Marlins (Jupiter, Fla.)

The Marlins spent the winter adding veterans (Rafael Furcal, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Casey McGehee, Garrett Jones, Reed Johnson) to what had been a very inexperienced team. Now a reorganized front office must try to put all the pieces in place to avoid a repeat of the 100-loss season in 2013.

New York Mets (Port St. Lucie, Fla.)

With trade rumors involving Ike Davis never resulting in a deal, the Mets must decide who will play first base -- Davis or Lucas Duda. And how much gas is left in the tank of Bartolo Colon, who will be 41 in May?

Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater, Fla.)

Prospect Cody Asche will be given every opportunity to be the regular third baseman, a good thing for a team that otherwise isn't getting any younger. With Roy Halladay retired, new manager Ryne Sandberg has a very big hole to fill in his starting rotation.

Washington Nationals (Viera, Fla.)

How will the players respond to the managerial switch from old-timer Davey Johnson to first-timer Matt Williams? The Nationals must decide if it makes more sense to have lefty Ross Detwiler in the rotation or the bullpen.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

Arizona D'backs (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

Rookie Chris Owings will try to show he is a better option at shortstop than Didi Gregorius. Mark Trumbo takes over as the new leftfielder and Addison Reed as the new closer.

Colorado Rockies (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

With Todd Helton retired, Justin Morneau seeks to show he can still be an offensive force at first base. Ageless LaTroy Hawkins must show he has enough left to be the regular bullpen closer.

Los Angeles Dodgers (Glendale, Ariz.)

Centerfielder Matt Kemp says he won't rush back from an ankle injury but would love to get ready by opening day. Dynamic offensive force Yasiel Puig will get a look in the leadoff spot in the batting order.

San Diego Padres (Peoria, Ariz.)

A busy winter of personnel moves has greatly reshaped the pitching staff. The Padres would love a healthy season from Josh Johnson, who couldn't stay on the mound in Toronto.

San Francisco Giants (Scottsdale, Ariz.)

The Giants hope new leftfielder Michael Morse can add some pop to a modest offense. Third baseman Pedro Sandoval, who has battled weight problems throughout his career, reportedly slimmed down considerably over the winter.

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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