2013 Blue Jays, Phillies, Yankees spring previews

Schedule

Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa, 33614

Tickets: Toll-free 1-800-745-3000, yankees.com

All games at 1:05 p.m. unless noted.

FEBRUARY

23: at Braves

24: Blue Jays (ss)

25: at Orioles (ss)

26: at Phillies

27: Orioles

28: (ss) at Astros; Blue Jays

MARCH

1: Phillies

2: Tigers (ss)

3: at Red Sox, 1:35

5: Braves, 7:05

6: Dominican Republic

7: at Cardinals

8: at Marlins

9: Braves

10: at Blue Jays

11: Cardinals

12: at Rays

13: Phillies, 7:05

14: at Blue Jays

15: Marlins

16: (ss) Phillies; at Braves, 5:05

17: at Pirates

19: at Phillies

20: Red Sox

21: Twins, 7:05

22: at Twins

23: at Tigers

24: Rays

26: Astros, 7:05

27: at Orioles, 7:05

28: Pirates

Schedule

Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater, 33765

Tickets: (727) 467-4457, phillies.com

All games at 1:05 p.m. unless noted.

FEBRUARY

23: Astros

24: at Tigers

25: Tigers

26: Yankees

27: at Twins

28: Braves

MARCH

1: at Yankees

2: at Blue Jays

3: (ss) Blue Jays; at Orioles (ss)

4: at Pirates

5: Dominican Republic

6: Nationals

7: Twins (ss)

8: at Rays

9: Rays

10: at Astros

12: Tigers

13: at Yankees, 7:05

14: Pirates

15: at Rays

16: at Yankees (ss)

17: Orioles (ss)

18: at Braves

19: Yankees

21: at Red Sox, 7:05

22: Braves

23: at Orioles

24: Red Sox

25: at Blue Jays

26: Rays

27: at Tigers

28: Blue Jays

29: Blue Jays, 7:05 (at Philadelphia)

30: Blue Jays (at Philadelphia)

Schedule

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, 34698

Tickets: (727) 733-0429, bluejays.com

All games at 1:05 p.m. unless noted.

FEBRUARY

23: at Tigers

24: (ss) Orioles; at Yankees

25: Red Sox (ss)

26: Twins

27: Astros

28: at Yankees (ss)

MARCH

1: Rays

2: Phillies

3: at Phillies (ss)

5: Orioles

6: at Tigers

7: at Orioles

8: at Braves (ss)

9: Tigers

10: Yankees

12: at Red Sox, 1:35

13: at Pirates

14: Yankees

15: at Tigers

16: Orioles

17: at Astros

19: Astros

20: at Orioles

21: at Rays

22: Red Sox

23: Braves (ss)

24: at Twins

25: Phillies

26: Pirates

27: at Rays

28: at Phillies

29: Phillies (at Philadelphia), 7:05

30: Phillies (at Philadelphia)

New York Yankees

Lining up

Key additions: 3B Kevin Youkilis, DH Travis Hafner, OF/1B Matt Diaz

Key losses: RHP Rafael Soriano, C Russell Martin, DH/OF Raul Ibanez

Spring story lines

On the mend: SS Derek Jeter, coming off a broken left ankle sustained in the playoffs, insists he will be ready by opening day. But the Yankees will keep a close eye on their 38-year-old captain, who is a key cog atop their lineup. Ageless closer Mariano Rivera, 43, in what could be his final season, expects to bounce back after missing most of last year with a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee. With RHP Rafael Soriano leaving for an even bigger payday with the Nationals, Rivera needs to be strong.

Lightning rod: 3B Alex Rodriguez likely won't play until after the All-Star break due to a surgically repaired left hip and might not even show up at Steinbrenner Field as he rehabs in New York. But Rodriguez still will be a hot topic — and potential distraction — thanks to his latest scandal. Last month's Miami New Times story linked him and other major-leaguers to Biogenesis, a Miami clinic under investigation for selling performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez has denied being a client, but any news stemming from MLB's investigation could bring him back to the forefront.

Catching on: Other than toying with the idea of moving CF Curtis Granderson to left and Brett Gardner to center, the Yankees' main position battle is behind the plate. With veteran Russell Martin now playing for the Pirates, Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and, potentially, Austin Romine will fight it out to replace him. Cervelli and Stewart have more big-league experience and are the front-runners. But Romine, who missed most of last season due to a back injury, could be a dark horse.

Philadelphia Phillies

Lining up

Key additions: 3B Michael Young, OF Delmon Young, CF Ben Revere, RHP Mike Adams, LHP John Lannan

Key losses: 3B Placido Polanco, OF Juan Pierre, INF Ty Wigginton

Spring story lines:

What's up Doc? RHP Roy Halladay had a rare off year last season (11-8, 4.49 ERA), which included shoulder and back issues. Halladay, 35, known for his consistency and work ethic, revamped his offseason training program. The Phillies are confident he can return to form. If so, he gives the Phillies one of the majors' top rotations with LHP Cole Hamels and LHP Cliff Lee.

Chasing Utley: 2B Chase Utley hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game since 2010 and opened the past two seasons on the disabled list. But Utley, who has battled chronic knee problems, is expected to start in today's opener and believes he's ready to play a full season. The Phillies could use the five-time All-Star, but Utley has hit just .258 with 22 home runs combined the past two years (186 games).

Leaning left: The Phillies acquired Ben Revere from the Twins to play centerfield and signed former Ray Delmon Young to start in rightfield. But Young, the 2012 ALCS MVP for the Tigers, likely won't be ready to start the season due to right ankle surgery. John Mayberry, Darin Ruf and former Pasco High star Domonic Brown were expected to compete for two outfield spots. But if Young opens the season on the disabled list, all three could make the roster.

Toronto Blue Jays

Lining up

Key additions: RHP R.A. Dickey, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, SS Jose Reyes, OF Melky Cabrera, INF Emilio Bonifacio

Key losses: SS Yunel Escobar, 2B Kelly Johnson, RHP Jason Frasor

Spring story lines

HEAVY HITTER: The Blue Jays have embraced the sky-high expectations that have surrounded them since their major offseason makeover, which included a blockbuster trade with the Marlins. But while the rotation is reloaded and lineup bolstered, their most important player still is slugging RF Jose Bautista, who is coming off offseason wrist surgery. The home run champ in 2010 and 2011 says he's on track with his swing, but a good spring would make the Jays feel a lot better about their chances.

CLOSING TIME: RHP Casey Janssen, 31, is being treated as the incumbent closer, but he's still working his way back from right shoulder surgery. Janssen stepped in last season after RHP Sergio Santos had shoulder issues and RHP Francisco Cordero struggled and converted 22 of 25 saves (2.54 ERA). But if Janssen isn't ready, the Jays could lean on Santos, who was supposed to be their closer to start last season.

STEALING SECOND: With the exception of some bullpen spots, the only position up for grabs is second base, where Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis will battle throughout the spring. Izturis, 32, has more experience and entered camp as the favorite. But with Bonifacio, 27, acquired in the megatrade with the Marlins, boasting such versatility (having played all three outfield spots, second, short and third), he also could become a valuable utility player.

2013 Blue Jays, Phillies, Yankees spring previews 02/22/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 22, 2013 9:19pm]

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