7 MLB Contenders With Cause for Concern in Spring 2014
Major League Baseball fans love the relaxed feel of spring training in Arizona and Florida. Between the excellent weather and the ability to rub elbows with the game’s best players, the scene allows fans to forget about the long winter. For MLB’s top contenders in 2014, there is no opportunity to let their guard down.
Young players fighting for their first starting job battle established MLB players for the right to represent the team once spring ends, while new players signed to large contracts set about proving they are worth every dollar spent. It’s a tall order in either case, and general managers join club managers and coaches in trying to evaluate players while figuring out how to plug a team’s biggest hole. Here are seven MLB contenders who have a cause for concern as the 2014 season begins.
1. Boston Red Sox: Who’s in center?
The defending champion Red Sox had a quiet offseason with the team’s most notable roster move the subtraction of Jacoby Ellsbury. In his stead, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Grady Sizemore are battling for Boston’s center field position. Can the team’s star prospect grab the reins or will Sizemore prove he’s got the experience to patrol Fenway’s spacious grounds?
Early reports from spring training show Bradley struggling at the plate and Sizemore in the lead for the starting job. Sizemore is trying to make a comeback after missing two years of MLB action, but the Red Sox like where he is headed so far in Grapefruit League action.
If it all works out, Sizemore could be the low-risk, high-return player the Red Sox were hoping to acquire, though the organization would be ecstatic if Bradley turned out to be productive on the offensive end. Either way, Ellsbury’s 2013 season of hitting .298 with 52 stolen bases will be tough to replace.