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Tampa Bay area spring training capsules

New York Yankees

Key additions: CF Jacoby Ellsbury, C Brian McCann, OF Carlos Beltran, RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Key losses: RHP Mariano Rivera, 2B Robinson Cano, CF Curtis Granderson

Spring storylines

Around the horn: SS Derek Jeter's final spring training will be monitored not just for nostalgia but out of necessity. The Yankees are trying to find out how many games the 39-year-old (who missed most of last season due to injuries) can start at shortstop. There are questions all around the diamond, with 1B Mark Teixeira working back from wrist surgery and ex-Rays INF Kelly Johnson likely getting many starts at third.

Tanaka mania: The Yankees' man of mystery is RHP Masahiro Tanaka, the 25-year-old Japanese sensation who is expected to help solidify the rotation. Tanaka, who signed a seven-year, $155 million deal, is likely to get six spring starts, giving him time to get acclimated before his official big-league debut.

Finding the bridge: You'd think the biggest concern would be replacing future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. But of more curiosity is who will replace Rivera's replacement, RHP David Robertson, in the setup role. LHP Matt Thornton and RHP Shawn Kelley are candidates, as are those who miss out on the final rotation spot (including RHPs Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren).

Spring schedule

Where: George M. Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa, FL 33614

Tickets: Available at yankees.com, Steinbrenner Field box office or call (813) 879-2244.

All games 1:05 p.m. unless noted

February

Today at Pirates

27 Pirates

28 at Tigers (ss)

March

1 Phillies

2 at Blue Jays

3 Nationals

4 Orioles, 7:05

5 at Rays

6 at Phillies (ss)

7 Tigers, 7:05

8 at Astros (ss)

9 Rays

11 at Nationals, TBD

12 Tigers

13 (ss) Orioles; at Phillies

14 Twins (ss)

15 at Orioles

16 Braves

17 at Pirates

18 Red Sox

19 at Braves

20 at Red Sox, 7:05

21 Pirates, 7:05

22 at Twins

23 Blue Jays

25 Phillies, 7:05

26 at Blue Jays

27 at Pirates

28 Marlins, 7:05

29 Marlins

Philadelphia Phillies

Key additions: RHP A.J. Burnett, OF Bobby Abreu, OF Marlon Byrd, RHP Roberto Hernandez, RHP Miguel Gonzalez

Key losses: RHP Roy Halladay, INF/OF Michael Martinez

Spring storylines

Ryno's rule: Ryne Sandberg is entering his first spring training as big-league manager, and the Hall of Fame second baseman has to make some key decisions such as sorting out the lineup and setting up the bullpen. Players say he has brought a tenacity and work ethic that could shape the club's identity.

Ace in hole: Spring got off to a rough start when ace LHP Cole Hamels announced he wouldn't be ready for his opening day start due to tendinitis. The former World Series MVP is working his way back, and his recovery during camp is important for a rotation that includes LHP Cliff Lee and RHP A.J. Burnett.

Healthy Howard: When healthy, 1B Ryan Howard has been one of the most dangerous sluggers in the National League. Problem is, Howard has struggled with lower-body injuries the past two seasons, sapping his power and production. Howard, 34, has talked optimistically about finally having two legs under him, and the Phillies will need him full strength to help carry their offense.

Spring schedule

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

Tickets: Available at phillies.com, Bright House Field box office or call (727) 467-4457

All games 1:05 p.m. unless noted

February

Today Blue Jays

27 at Blue Jays

28 Tigers (ss)

March

1 at Yankees

2 Pirates

3 at Rays

4 Blue Jays, 6:35

5 Braves, 1:05

6 (ss) Yankees; at Tigers

7 at Orioles

8 Astros (ss)

9 at Twins

10 Braves

11 at Braves

12 at Orioles

13 Yankees (ss)

14 at Pirates

15 at Red Sox, 7:05

16 Pirates

17 Orioles (ss)

19 at Blue Jays

20 (ss) at Astros; Blue Jays

21 Red Sox

22 at Pirates

23 Twins

24 at Blue Jays

25 at Yankees, 7:05

26 Tigers

27 Blue Jays

28 Pirates, 7:05 (at Philadelphia)

29 Pirates (at Philadelphia)

Toronto Blue Jays

Key additions: C Dioner Navarro

Key losses: RHP Josh Johnson, C J.P. Arencibia

Spring storylines

Big bats: RF Jose Bautista and 1B Edwin Encarnacion form one of the AL's most powerful combos in the middle of the order. Both had their 2013 seasons cut short due to injuries, Bautista with a bruised left hip and Encarnacion with a sore left wrist that required surgery. Both say they're healthy, and a strong spring could ease the minds of Jays fans.

Who's at second? It appears the Jays are leaning toward starting Ryan Goins, a strong defender who hit .252 in 34 games as a rookie in 2013. Emilio Bonifacio is gone, but Maicer Izturis, a utility infielder, could compete for the spot.

Taking the fifth: The battle for the fifth rotation spot is wide open. If former All-Star LHP Ricky Romero can regain his form, the Jays would love to put him back in there. But there are plenty others, including touted prospect Marcus Stroman, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison, Esmil Rogers and Dustin McGowan. That is, if the Jays don't decide to sign free agent RHP Ervin Santana.

Spring schedule

Where: Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, FL 34698

Tickets: $16-$28 at bluejays.com

All games 1:05 p.m. unless noted

February

Today at Phillies

27 Phillies

28 Pirates

March

1 at Orioles

2 Yankees

3 at Twins (ss)

4 at Phillies, 6:35

5 Pirates

6 at Pirates

7 Rays

8 Twins

9 at Astros

11 (ss) at Tigers

12 Rays

13 Astros

14 Red Sox

15 at Rays (ss)

16 Orioles

18 at Tigers (ss)

19 Phillies

20 at Phillies (ss)

21 at Rays

22 Tigers

23 at Yankees

24 Phillies

25 at Pirates

26 Yankees

27 at Phillies

28 Mets, 7:05 (at Montreal)

29 Mets (at Montreal)

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay area spring training capsules 02/25/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 8:42pm]

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