Spring training: Pitchers and catchers report for Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals and Mariners

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Four more teams will start working towards October on Wednesday by sending pitcher and catchers south.

Four teams will begin baseball activities on Wednesday. Pitchers and catchers from the Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals and Mariners report to their teams' spring training sites to begin preparations for the 2014 season.

Phillies

  • Spring training site: Clearwater, Florida
  • Position players report: February 17
  • First spring training game: February 26

The Phillies enter spring training with a few new veteran role players, but for this aging club to return to relevance they will need stars like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins to turn the clocks back, and young players like Cody Asche and Domonic Brown to reach the next level. With Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, the top of the rotation should be strong, but they have questions after the two lefties and in the bullpen.

Pirates

  • Spring training site: Bradenton, Florida
  • Position players report: February 17
  • First spring training game: February 26

Last year's Cinderella story should still be in the hunt in 2014, but the back of their rotation looks a little weaker especially now that A.J. Burnett has signed with Philadelphia. First base remains a problem area and right field is questionable as well. But they could find a few solutions before they break camp. Top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon could get a shot at the rotation and outfield prospect Gregory Polanco could give Buc's fans a taste of things to come in right.

Cardinals

  • Spring training site: Jupiter, Florida
  • Position players report: February 17
  • First spring training game: February 28

The National League Champions will look very different on the defensive side of the ball in 2014. The only regulars returning to their usual places are left fielder Matt Holliday and catcher Yadier Molina. For some, like 2013 breakout star Matt Carpenter, the move is a return home. Carpenter wrestled second base to a draw last season, but the David Freese- Peter Bourjos trade allows him to move to his accustomed spot at third. For others, like 2013 first baseman Allen Craig, the transition to playing  right field every day might be a bit of an adventure. Their rotation is still young, deep and intimidating and their offense shouldn't miss a beat, but the new-look defense is worth keeping an eye on.

Mariners

  • Spring training site: Peoria, Arizona
  • Position players report: February 17
  • First spring training game: February 27

The Mariners landed the biggest free agent available in Robinson Cano, and added even more offensive firepower in Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, but it may not be enough to put them in the running for the AL West crown. To complete the transition from pretenders to contenders, the Mariners need promising young players like Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino, Brad Miller and Taijuan Walker to become stars sooner rather than later. They also need to find answers for the innings before they get to newly-signed closer Fernando Rodney.

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