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LEAD ART Angels Preview Baseball

In this 2017 season photo, Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout watches his solo home run against the Seattle Mariners. Trout, the best player in baseball, will not be the biggest attraction in spring training for the Angels. That distinction will fall to Japanese two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, who chose to sign with the Angels in December following league-wide interest and years of intrigue about the 23-year-old with a powerful right arm and productive bat from the left side of the plate.

Associated Press

A team-by-team look at the American League West 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:

Houston Astros

Manager: A.J. Hinch (fourth season).

2017: 101-61, first place, won World Series.

He’s Here: RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Joe Smith, RHP Hector Rondon.

He’s Outta Here: DH Carlos Beltran, RHP Luke Gregerson, RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Mike Fiers, RHP Michael Feliz, INF Colin Moran.

Going campin’: This team is basically set after retaining almost every key player from last season’s championship squad. The two strongest areas are the middle infield, where shortstop Carlos Correa and second baseman Jose Altuve, last year’s AL MVP, return to anchor the middle of the order. Correa hit .315 with 24 homers — both career highs — and Altuve had his finest season, hitting a career-best and major league-leading .346 with 24 homers and 81 RBIs to become the first Astros player to win an MVP award since Jeff Bagwell took the NL prize in 1994. The only issue with the rotation is a logjam of good arms. Along with Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Cole, the Astros have young star Lance McCullers, Brad Peacock, who is coming off his best season, Charlie Morton and Collin McHugh.

Los Angeles Angels

Manager: Mike Scioscia (19th season).

2017: 80-82, second place.

He’s Here: RHP-DH Shohei Ohtani, 3B Zack Cozart, 2B Ian Kinsler, C Rene Rivera, OF Michael Hermosillo.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Ricky Nolasco, RHP Huston Street, RHP Andrew Bailey, RHP Jesse Chavez, 3B Yunel Escobar, RHP Bud Norris, INF Cliff Pennington, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, 2B Brandon Phillips, OF Ben Revere.

Going campin’: The Angels have reached the postseason once in the last eight years, but the arrival of Ohtani to pair with perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout makes them one of the most compelling teams in baseball. Ohtani chose to sign in December after five brilliant seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, where his 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and .286 batting average earned him the moniker “the Japanese Babe Ruth.” While he has the potential to become the kind of two-way star the sport has not seen in decades, the Angels’ initial focus is on using Ohtani to shore up their pitching.

Seattle Mariners

Manager: Scott Servais (third season).

2017: 78-84, tied for third place.

He’s Here: CF Dee Gordon, 1B Ryon Healy, RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Mike Morin, INF-OF Andrew Romine.

He’s Outta Here: OF Jarrod Dyson, LHP Drew Smyly, 1B Danny Valencia, 1B Yonder Alonso, C Carlos Ruiz, RHP Yovani Gallardo, RHP Emilio Pagan.

Going campin’: The Mariners are in a strange position. They’re probably not going to be able to catch the Astros in the AL West, but they might have enough talent to contend for a wild card. It will all depend on the pitching staff and what happens in a rotation filled with question marks. Can James Paxton stay healthy? Can Mike Leake replicate what he showed last season after being traded from St. Louis? What kind of Felix Hernandez shows up for spring training? Seattle used a major league-record 40 pitchers last year and would like to avoid a repeat performance. If the Mariners can find stability on the pitching staff, the everyday lineup should be solid thanks to the additions of Gordon and Healy to go with Jean Segura, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano.

Texas Rangers

Manager: Jeff Banister (fourth season).

2017: 78-84, tied for third place.

He’s Here: LHP Mike Minor, LHP Matt Moore, RHP Doug Fister, RHP Bartolo Colon, INF Darwin Barney, LHP Jon Niese.

He’s Outta Here: 1B-DH Mike Napoli, CF Carlos Gomez, RHP Andrew Cashner, RHP Jason Grilli, RHP A.J. Griffin.

Going campin’: AL West champs in each of Banister’s first two seasons, the Rangers are coming off their second losing season in nine years. Instead of spending big money in free agency to reunite with ace Yu Darvish, Texas signed Fister and Minor, and got Moore in a trade from the Giants. The 44-year-old Colon was added late on a minor league deal. With returners Cole Hamels and Martin Perez already penciled in, there could be a very left-leaning rotation. Young lefty Alex Claudio had 11 saves after the All-Star break, but Texas will also look at other closer options, including a healthy Jake Diekman. Third baseman Adrian Beltre, now a member of the 3,000-hit club, is back for his 21st major league season.

Oakland Athletics

Manager: Bob Melvin (eighth season).

2017: 75-87, fifth place.

He’s Here: OF Stephen Piscotty, OF Dustin Fowler, RHP Emilio Pagan, RHP Yusmeiro Petit, LHP Ryan Buchter, DH Brandon Moss.

He’s Outta Here: INF Ryon Healy, RHP Jesse Hahn, OF Jaycob Brugman.

Going campin’: The A’s showed some signs of progress last year despite a third straight last-place finish. Oakland won 17 of 24 to end the season, improving the win total from 2016 by six games. The bullpen got upgraded this offseason with the additions of Pagan, Petit and Buchter. The rotation is a major question mark but the lineup has plenty of power led by Khris Davis, whose 85 homers the past two seasons are second in the majors to Giancarlo Stanton’s 86.


Sports Reporter

Rick is a 29-year veteran of The Daily News, and the lead Lower Columbia College athletics reporter. In addition, he tracks former area prep athletes and assists several other beats. He is a Mark Morris grad with a business management degree from LCC.

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