Giants & A’s

Matt Kawahara, Bay Area baseball beat writer

The rest of the N.L. West

03/31/2013 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 10:41 AM

DODGERS

2012: 86-76, second

Manager: Don Mattingly (third season)

Hot spot: A lot hinges on whether Hanley Ramirez's return to shortstop is successful. He appeared hesitant there after the Dodgers obtained him last July 25 from Miami, where he had moved to third base. That's where he was playing for the Dominican Republic in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic when he tore a ligament in his right thumb diving for a ball. It appears the Dodgers will move Luis Cruz back to shortstop and play Juan Uribe, Nick Punto or Jerry Hairston Jr. at third. Light-hitting shortstop Dee Gordon was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday. Gordon was Los Angeles' starting shortstop last season until he had surgery July 6 for a similar injury to his right thumb.

Outlook: A 2013 payroll of more than $230 million bought a lot of expectations. The big ticket is the six-year, $147 million contract starter Zack Greinke signed in December. But there was more in the vault. A lot more. The Dodgers signed Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has pitched only in Korea, to a six-year deal worth $36 million. Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig, who also has never appeared in a major-league game, signed for $42 million over seven years. Can the Dodgers cash in? It won't be easy in the National League West with the rival Giants coming off their second World Series title in three years. But a pennant might be the only thing anybody accepts.

DIAMONDBACKS

2012: 81-81, third

Manager: Kirk Gibson (third season)

Hot spot: The plan was for light-hitting Cliff Pennington and Willie Bloomquist to split time at shortstop as top prospect Didi Gregorius, acquired from the Reds in a three-team deal, waits in the minors. But Bloomquist (strained oblique) will start the season on the disabled list.

Outlook: General manager Kevin Towers has reshaped the Diamondbacks into an aggressive, team-oriented unit that depends less on the home run and more on timely hitting, with speedy rookie center fielder Adam Eaton, newcomer Adam Prado (third base) and second baseman Aaron Hill leading the way. Eaton, however, could miss up to two months with a small tear in the fibers around the ulnar collateral ligament in his left arm. If right-hander Brandon McCarthy can stay healthy and the bullpen is as good as advertised, the Diamondbacks, division champions in 2011, believe they have the pitching to contend with the Giants and Dodgers.

PADRES

2012: 76-86, fourth

Manager: Bud Black (seventh season)

Hot spot: The Padres already are in trouble, and this after they made no major offseason additions to a team that finished 18 games behind the Giants. Third baseman Chase Headley, coming off one of the best seasons in club history, broke his left thumb in spring training and is expected to miss the first two weeks.

Outlook: There's not much optimism that the Padres will avoid a fifth losing season in six years. That leaves fans to wonder what they will do with Headley, who earned a $5.1 million raise when he and the Padres avoided salary arbitration by agreeing on an $8,575,000, one-year contract.

ROCKIES

2012: 64-98, last

Manager: Walt Weiss (first season)

Hot spot: The Rockies will ease the wear and tear on first baseman Todd Helton by giving him more days off this season. The five-time All-Star is a lifetime .320 hitter but batted a career-low .238 in 69 games before having season-ending surgery on Aug. 10 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. On the days Helton, 39, sits, Michael Cuddyer, Tyler Colvin or Jordan Pacheco will take his spot.

Outlook: This time last year, Weiss was coaching his son's high school baseball team. Now, he's managing a team that made no bold offseason moves, banking instead on bounce-back seasons from veterans coming off injuries.

– Associated Press

About This Blog

Matt Kawahara has covered baseball for The Sacramento Bee for three years. Kawahara, a McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley graduate, joined The Bee in 2010. Before joining Sports, he was a general assignment news reporter. Reach Kawahara at mkawahara@sacbee.com. Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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