2014 spring training: Red Sox, Mets among 6 teams reporting Saturday

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The world champion Red Sox are among six teams who begin their seasons on Saturday, with pitchers and catchers reporting for duty.

The World Series champion Red Sox are among six teams beginning their seasons on Saturday, as pitchers and catchers from the Red Sox, Mets, Astros, White Sox,  Rockies, and Brewers all report to camp. The first trio are reporting to Florida, while the latter duo will head to Arizona to begin baseball activities.

Red Sox

  • Spring training site: Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Position players report: Feb.18
  • First spring training game: Feb. 27

The defending world champions begin 2014 a very different team than the one that doused each other with champagne last October. With Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew the notable departures, the Sox will do their best to fill the void internally with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop and Jackie Bradley, Jr. in center field. It's possible Bradley, Jr. isn't ready for the limelight, in which case veteran Grady Sizemore has been retained. Boston did bring fan favorite Mike Napoli's beard back, and Napoli along with it. Other battles to keep an eye on: the fifth starter spot, as Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront battle it out, as well as the bullpen where Allen Webster could earn a spot.

Mets

  • Spring training site: Port St. Lucie, Fla.
  • Position players report: Feb. 20
  • First spring training game: Feb. 28

The Mets enter the season with the same cloud of rain following them around in the form of a cash-strapped ownership, and yet, they underwent some impressive offseason renovations given the limited budget. Curtis Granderson and Chris Young give the Mets a mostly-new outfield with added athleticism, while Bartolo Colon was brought in to bolster a rotation still reeling from the loss of Matt Harvey. While Colon can in no way replace Harvey, he'll likely be able to rack up innings as Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and others attempt to fill the void. Top prospect Noah Syndergaard should arrive at some point in 2014, with Rafael Montero waiting in the wings as well. They have some depth in their starting pitching, but the bullpen remains a thorn in their side.

Astros

  • Spring training site: Kissimmee, Fla.
  • Position players report: Feb. 19
  • First spring training game: Feb. 28

Houston will continue its task of selling it's fans on the future, but it's present is a bit more tolerable after the team acquired Dexter Fowler from the Rockies and signed Scott Feldman from free agency. They'll continue to promote the kids throughout the season, with Jonathan Villar playing a more prominent role, as the teams starting shortstop, and prospects Jonathan Singleton and George Springer expected to arrive shortly. It's possible that 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel makes an appearance this season too. In all likelihood, none of these things will stop Houston from compiling the league's worst record, but that doesn't mean a step toward respectability isn't being taken.

White Sox

  • Spring training site: Glendale, Ariz.
  • Position players report: Feb. 20
  • First spring training game: Feb. 28

The White Sox underwent something of an overhaul during the winter, spending major bucks on Cuban import Jose Dariel Abreu, while shipping out swingman Hector Santiago and prospects to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks. Those two front offices hooked up again not much later, with the White Sox bringing in third baseman Matt Davidson, sending closer Addison Reed to Arizona. It's not clear if Davidson will break camp with the team but his impact is expected to be felt in 2014, and while the White Sox rotation is more shallow than it's been in recent years, with Gavin Floyd and the aforementioned Santiago sent packing, they did sign Felipe Paulino to act as the fifth starter. The offense should be greatly improved, but questions will continue to plague the rotation, regarding both depth and effectiveness, with the bullpen relying on freshman reliever Nate Jones as well. It's unlikely these moves unseat Detroit from atop the division, but the White Sox are a more interesting team than they've been in recent history.

Rockies

  • Spring training site: Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Position players report: Feb. 21
  • First spring training game: Feb. 28

The Rockies attempt to hit the reset button in 2014, sending longtime centerfielder Dexter Fowler to Houston in exchange for outfielder Brandon Barnes and pitcher Jordan Lyles. They also made a pitcher-for-pitcher swap, sending Drew Pomeranz to Oakland in exchange for dynamic-yet-rarely-healthy Brett Anderson. They also replaced one aging first baseman with another, signing Justin Morneau to a two year deal. A healthy Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki will go a long way toward a revitalized Rockies season, but they'll be dependent on an unproven and injury prone pitching staff if they're truly going to contend. A positive 2014 will likely be more of a step-forward year than it will be a team in contention.

Brewers

  • Spring training site: Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Position players report: Feb. 21
  • First spring training game: Feb. 27

With Matt Garza seemingly falling into their lap, Milwaukee has become something of a trendy pick as a sleeper team. Had they known at the time that they might be positioned for a playoff push, the Brewers might not have been so hasty to trade outfielder Norichika Aoki for left-handed reliever Will Smith. It's still possible Smith could start, but he's devastating as a LOOGY, and has been bumped from the rotation by Garza's arrival. First base is still a sinkhole, and it's possible that Juan Francisco and Mark Reynolds form a platoon at the position. A full season of Ryan Braun should help the lineup while Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy and Khris Davis will have to repeat their success from 2013 if Milwaukee is truly going to putt this off. The bullpen is a bit of a weak spot, but the recently-signed Francisco Rodriguez should help alleviate some of that burden.

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