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Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays spring training capsules

New York Yankees

Lining up

Key additions: RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, DH/OF Raul Ibanez

Key losses: C/DH Jorge Posada, RHP A.J. Burnett

Story lines

Starting five: The Yankees reloaded their rotation, acquiring young fireballer RHP Michael Pineda from Seattle and signing veteran RHP Hiroki Kuroda. Even after trading the enigmatic A.J. Burnett, New York still has a surplus of starters, having to decide how to fill in the back end between RHP Phil Hughes and RHP Freddy Garcia.

Lightning Rod: Boasting a lineup filled with middle-of-the-order type bats, the Yankees need 3B Alex Rodriguez, left, to be the dangerous cleanup hitter he has been in the past. Rodriguez, coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued season (16 homers and 62 RBIs in 99 games), says he's healthy and ready, with manager Joe Girardi expecting a "big year."

Down to two: With "Core Four" members LHP Andy Pettitte and C Jorge Posada retiring in consecutive seasons, SS Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera are left to carry the torch, hoping to beat Father Time. Rivera, 42, who hinted this could be his last season, is as good as ever, and Jeter will once again be the leadoff hitter.

Schedule

Where: Steinbrenner Field, corner Dale Mabry and Martin Luther King, 33614

Phone: (813) 879-2244

Tickets: $17-$33

(All games 1:05 unless noted)

MARCH

Today: at Phillies

Sunday: Phillies

Monday: at Phillies

Tuesday: at Pirates

Wednesday: Rays

Thursday: at Blue Jays

Friday: Braves (ss)

10: at Braves

11: at Twins (ss), Phillies (ss)

12: Astros

13: Red Sox (7:05)

14: at Blue Jays

15: at Nationals

16: Nationals

17: Astros

18: at Orioles (ss, 7:05)

19: Off

20: Pirates (7:05)

21: at Rays

22: at Red Sox (7:05)

23: Twins (ss), at Phillies (ss)

24: at Tigers

25: Tigers

26: Off

27: Blue Jays (7:05)

28: at Braves

29: Orioles (7:05)

30: Phillies (7:05)

31: at Astros

APRIL

1: Marlins (at Miami, 7:10)

2: Marlins (at Miami, 7:10)

3: at Mets (2:10)

4: Mets (12:05)

Toronto Blue Jays

Lining up

Key additions: RHP Sergio Santos, RHP Francisco Cordero, LHP Darren Oliver, INF Omar Vizquel

Key losses: RHP Jon Rauch, C Jose Molina, RHP Frank Francisco.

Story lines

Leaning left: One of the few position battles will be in leftfield, where perpetual prospect Travis Snider and rookie Eric Thames are the main candidates. Snider has shown some power but has been inconsistent (.248 batting average in four seasons). Thames improved his defense last season.

In closing: Instead of a revolving door for a closer, the Jays will turn to a familiar face, Sergio Santos, left, a former Toronto shortstop prospect who made a rapid ascent as a reliever. Santos, 28, racked up 30 saves in 36 chances last year for the White Sox. He was acquired during the winter meetings and will be helped by veteran righty Francisco Cordero.

Old school: Omar Vizquel, 45, broke into the big leagues before 3B Brett Lawrie was born, but he could be playing alongside him if he makes the team. Vizquel, signed to a minor-league deal, is competing for the utility infielder spot and said this will likely be his last season.

Schedule

Where: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, 34698 Phone: 1-888-525-5297 or (727) 733-0429

Tickets: $15-$28

(All games 1:05 unless noted)

MARCH

Today: Pirates

Sunday: at Pirates

Monday: at Tigers

Tuesday: Phillies

Wednesday: Red Sox (ss), at Pirates (ss)

Thursday: Yankees

Friday: at Astros

10: Astros

11: Braves (ss), at Braves (ss)

12: Orioles

13: at Twins (ss), Canada (ss, at Al Lang Field)

14: Yankees

15: at Astros

16: Rays

17: at Braves (ss), at Phillies (ss)

18: Phillies

19: Off

20: at Red Sox (7:05)

21: at Orioles

22: Phillies

23: at Rays (7:05)

24: Braves

25: Red Sox

26: Off

27: at Yankees (7:05)

28: Orioles

29: at Red Sox (1:35)

30: Twins (ss)

31: at Phillies

APRIL

1: Pirates

2: at Tigers

3: Tigers (12:05)

Philadelphia Phillies

Lining up

Key additions: RHP Jonathan Papelbon, 1B/DH Jim Thome, RHP Chad Qualls, INF Ty Wigginton

Key losses: RHP Brad Lidge, RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Roy Oswalt

Story lines

Armed and ready: The "Fab Five" rotation of a year ago, hyped as potentially one of the best ever, failed to accomplish its ultimate goal. But after losing to the World Series champion Cardinals in the NLDS, the "Big Three" — RHP Roy Halladay, LHP Cliff Lee and LHP Cole Hamels — hold the key to where the Phillies finish.

Chasing Utley: The recovery of All-Star 1B Ryan Howard from left Achilles' surgery will be monitored throughout the spring, though he might not be ready until May. The return to form of 2B Chase Utley, above, could be just as important. Utley, coming off the worst season of his career while dealing with a chronic right knee injury, believes he can "overcome this without a doubt."

Packing Pap: The Phillies made RHP Jonathan Papelbon one of the richest relievers of all time, a four-year, $50 million deal. Replacing RHP Brad Lidge and RHP Ryan Madson as closer is no easy task, but the former Red Sox star is rejuvenated by a change of leagues — and scenery.

Schedule

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

Phone: (727) 467-4457

Tickets: $10-$35

(All games 1:05 unless noted)

MARCH

Today: Yankees

Sunday: at Yankees

Monday: Yankees

Tuesday: at Blue Jays

Wednesday: Astros

Thursday: Pirates

Friday: at Tigers

10: Orioles

11: Tigers (ss), at Yankees (ss)

12: at Pirates

13: at Astros

14: Twins

15: Braves (ss), at Rays (ss)

16: at Pirates

17: Blue Jays (ss)

18: at Blue Jays

19: Tigers

20: at Orioles

21: Off

22: at Blue Jays

23: Yankees (ss)

24: at Red Sox (ss, 1:35)

25: Orioles (ss), at Tigers (ss)

26: Red Sox

27: Pirates

28: at Twins

29: Rays

30: at Yankees (7:05)

31: Blue Jays

APRIL

1: at Braves

2: Pirates (at Philadelphia, 7:05)

3: Pirates (at Philadelphia, 7:05)

Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays spring training capsules 03/01/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 2, 2012 8:52pm]

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