A team-by-team look at the American League Central entering spring training, including key players each club acquired and lost, and dates of the first workout for pitchers and catchers, and the full squad:
Kansas City Royals
Manager: Ned Yost (seventh season).
2015: 95-67, first place, World Series champions.
Training Town: Surprise, Arizona.
Park: Surprise Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 19/24.
He’s Here: RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Joakim Soria, C Tony Cruz.
He’s Outta Here: RF Alex Rios, RHP Greg Holland, RHP Ryan Madson, LF Jonny Gomes, RHP Johnny Cueto, LHP Franklin Morales, RHP Jeremy Guthrie, 2B-OF Ben Zobrist.
Going campin’: The Royals are coming off their second straight World Series appearance and first championship since 1985, and there is little reason to believe the success won’t continue. They brought back All-Star LF Alex Gordon with a $72 million, four-year deal, and signed Kennedy to replace Cueto in the rotation. Otherwise, the team that won the AL Central and beat the New York Mets in five games in the World Series returns mostly intact. There are only a couple of jobs open in spring training: right field, where Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando are expected to platoon, and the fifth spot in the rotation behind Edinson Volquez, Yordano Ventura, Kennedy and Kris Medlen. With several cornerstone players, including first baseman Eric Hosmer and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, headed toward free agency after next season, the Royals think they have a two-year window to win another title.
Manager: Paul Molitor (second season).
2015: 83-79, second place.
Training Town: Fort Myers, Florida.
Park: Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex.
First Workout: Feb. 22/27.
He’s Here: DH Byung Ho Park, C John Ryan Murphy.
He’s Outta Here: RF Torii Hunter, CF Aaron Hicks, RHP Blaine Boyer, RHP Mike Pelfrey, LHP Brian Duensing, C Chris Herrmann.
Going campin’: The Twins are coming off a promising 2015, with designs on their first postseason spot in six years. Success will hinge on the starting pitchers, with at least eight candidates for five spots after the rotation combined for a 4.14 ERA that ranked 16th in the majors. Twins starters were last in 2014, last in 2013 and second-to-last in 2012. Slimmed-down Phil Hughes needs to bounce back and pitch more like the ace he was in 2014. Trevor May would rather be in the rotation, but he could be more valuable as the late-inning reliever he became last summer. Even if closer Glen Perkins returns to his All-Star, injury-free form, many openings and questions remain in the bullpen. The move of slugger Miguel Sano to right field will be closely scrutinized in camp, as will the adjustment of South Korean power hitter Byung Ho Park to major league competition. Then there’s prized prospect Byron Buxton, who struggled at the plate in 46 games last year but is being counted on to stay healthy and entrench himself in the lineup following the trade of Hicks to the Yankees. The recently retired Hunter will be in camp as a guest instructor, sure to spend plenty of time working with Sano on the art of playing right field.
Manager: Terry Francona (fourth season).
2015: 81-80, third place.
Training Town: Goodyear, Arizona.
Park: Goodyear Ballpark.
First Workout: Feb. 18/23.
He’s Here: 1B Mike Napoli, OF Rajai Davis, RHP Craig Stammen.
He’s Outta Here: INF Mike Aviles, RHP Scott Atchison, OF Michael Bourn, OF Nick Swisher.
Going campin’: Picked as a darkhorse to win the World Series last season, the Indians fell way short, missing the playoffs for the second straight year. Corey Kluber anchors one of baseball’s best and deepest rotations. OF Michael Brantley’s recovery from right shoulder surgery will be a major topic during camp. His recovery is on schedule, but he’s expected to miss at least the season’s first month. SS Francisco Lindor batted .313 in 99 games as a rookie in ‘15 and is one of the AL’s rising stars. His presence from the start should stabilize Cleveland’s infield. Napoli brings much-needed power to a lineup that struggles to produce runs. Davis provides a speed threat at the top of the order. The Indians will continue to receive calls about trading of one of their pitchers, a move they’ve resisted but might have to make to bolster their offense.
Chicago White Sox
Manager: Robin Ventura (fifth season).
2015: 76-86, fourth place.
Training Town: Glendale, Arizona.
Park: Camelback Ranch.
First Workout: Feb. 19/23.
He’s Here: 3B Todd Frazier, INF Brett Lawrie, RHP Mat Latos, C Dioner Navarro, C Alex Avila.
He’s Outta Here: SS Alexei Ramirez, RHP Jeff Samardzija.
Going campin’: Few teams were more disappointing than the White Sox last year. Chicago flamed out after a busy offseason that raised expectations on the South Side. Even so, the White Sox still believe they have the goods to make a jump with Chris Sale leading the rotation and Jose Abreu anchoring the lineup. They addressed a big issue at third base by acquiring Frazier, an All-Star and the winner of last year’s All-Star Home Run Derby, from Cincinnati in a three-time deal involving the Los Angeles Dodgers. The White Sox just need him to rebound from a second-half slump. Adding an outfielder or shortstop probably wouldn’t hurt, either. Latos figures to compete for one of the final two rotation spots with John Danks, Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner.
Manager: Brad Ausmus (third season).
2015: 74-87, fifth place.
Training Town: Lakeland, Florida.
Park: Joker Marchant Stadium.
First Workout: Feb. 19/23.
He’s Here: LF Justin Upton, RHP Jordan Zimmermann, RHP Francisco Rodriguez, RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Mark Lowe, LHP Justin Wilson, CF Cameron Maybin, C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, SS Mike Aviles.
He’s Outta Here: OF Rajai Davis, C Alex Avila, RHP Alfredo Simon, RHP Joe Nathan, RHP Al Alburquerque.
Going campin’: After their streak of four straight AL Central titles ended with a thud last year, the Tigers were facing a somewhat bleak future unless they were willing to keep spending. They were, as evidenced by the signings of Upton and Zimmermann in the offseason. Detroit hopes those two acquisitions and an overhauled bullpen will be enough to put the Tigers back in the postseason. The team’s health will be crucial. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Justin Verlander all missed time last year, and that expensive trio remains a big part of Detroit’s core. The back end of the rotation was a problem last season, but LHP Daniel Norris — obtained when the Tigers traded David Price to Toronto — looks promising.