The American League's top storylines
A quick look at some developments around the American League, including why Joe Maddon is feeling like Ray Kinsella:
1. Wrist watch
David Ortiz' production decline last season was due more to his injured left wrist than the absence of Manny Ramirez from the lineup. Big Papi, 33, has been spraying the ball in the spring and insists he'll be just fine with Kevin Youkilis hitting behind him.
Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield enters the season one home run away from 500. The much-traveled slugger's home runs by team: Dodgers (129), Marlins (122), Yankees (76), Braves (64), Tigers (44), Padres (43), Brewers (21). He will wear a rainbow colored cap when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
2. Money talks
The only things that seem recession-proof are funeral parlors, my car's mechanic and the Yankees. The Bombers tied up $423million just on free agents CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett in hopes of getting back to the playoffs.
3. Ransom cat
Cody Ransom, a 33-year-old with 183 career at-bats, will fill in for the Yankees at third base while Alex Rodriguez and his $25million salary rehabs a hip injury.
4. Holliday sale
What will Oakland do with Matt Holliday, who is set to become a free agent at season's end and has Scott Boras on his end of the negotiating table? Will they sign him to an extension or dangle him as this season's Manny Ramirez/CC Sabathia?
5. Rays the roof
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon noticed the unusual traffic and excitement that enveloped the defending AL champs this spring. "It was like 'Field of Dreams,'" Maddon said. "If it had been twilight, it would have been perfect. Build it and they will come."
6. Knocking on Wood
Former Cubs phenom Kerry Wood is the Indians' new closer. There was a time, especially after he struck out 20 in a game as a rookie, that Wood was being used in the same sentence as Nolan Ryan. Now, he's just trying to replace Joe Borowski.
7. Kansas City primed?
They are actually whispering playoffs in Kansas City. Yeah, right. And the Arizona Cardinals will get to the Super Bowl.
8. Enough already
The Angels will officially remain the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim after the city of Anaheim vowed no further appeals after its latest loss this offseason. That city wanted the team to be known as the Anaheim Angels, but the team wants the more ridiculous name for marketing purposes. It's estimated both sides combined to spend about $11 million — or two good middle relievers — in legal fees on the dispute.
9. Sinking Mariners
The over/under on Mariners losses this season is 89. Take the over. Poor Ichiro.
10. Getting his back up
Twins fans are watching Joe Mauer's back in Minnesota the way Phillies fans are monitoring Chase Utley's hip. The reigning AL batting champ says the inflammation and lingering pain in his lower back won't be a long-term problem. But achy back and catcher go together like brain surgery and Homer Simpson. *