Friday, February 19, 2010

Top Spring Training Storylines

It seems like an eternity since the end of the World Series but luckily for baseball fans, spring has arrived.  Pitchers and catchers reported to camp this week, marking the official start of the 2010 baseball season.  Here are some stories to watch this spring:

Where will Johnny Damon sign? Yes, I write about this way too often but it's a big deal.  Damon will likely wind up calling the AL Central home, as his top two suitors are the White Sox and the Tigers.  Detroit is rumored to have offered Damon a two year contract, while the White Sox have offered one year.  My guess is that Damon signs with the Tigers.

Where will Jason Heyward begin the season? Heyward (pictured) is a Braves outfielder and pretty much the consensus top prospect in the game.  Since the Braves took their time with Tommy Hanson last year, I think the Braves would prefer for him to begin the season at AAA, but if he has a great spring, I think there's a chance he makes it to Atlanta to start the season.

What will the Reds get out of Aroldis Chapman?  One thing is for sure and that is Chapman throws hard.  The main knock on him is that his control is sub-par.  The Reds have pretty good starting pitching depth but if Chapman impresses, he could make the rotation as Cincinnati begins the season.  If not, look for him to stick around at extended spring training to hone his control.

Who will be the Yankees Fifth Starter?  For the last few seasons the "Joba Rules" have made non-Yankee fans want to throw up.  It even got so bad that it made Yankee fans sick, too.  Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman proclaimed this off-season that Chamberlain completed his development program and wouldn't face an innings cap.  Chamberlain faces off against Phil Hughes, who will likely face an innings cap this season should he win the job.  The Yankees were relieved to see Chamberlain gain velocity when he moved to a reliever for the postseason.  Look for him to abandon starting and shift to the bullpen full-time.

Will the media leave Mark McGwire alone? Yes, he admitted to steroid use.  So have dozens of other players.  Get over it and let him do his job.

How many people will hate the new spring training/batting practice hat? In keeping with MLB's tradition of trying to make more money, the player's will be wearing an updated spring training/bating practice hat this season.  They change the design every few years and I think this year's hat is particularly atrocious.  There's no need for huge stripes coming down each side of the brim.  Thankfully I don't get to talk about fashion too often in this space but there are just some classic team hats that haven't changes for 100 years that don't need any flare. 

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