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AMERICAN LEAGUE SPRING TRAINING CAPSULES WEST DIVISION

CALIFORNIA ANGELS

Spring priorities: The Angels need to reconstruct their starting rotation in the wake of the trade that sent left-hander Jim Abbott to the New York Yankees. . . . Promising Damion Easley was expected to switch from third base to second this spring, but he's back at third now that Kelly Gruber is out of the picture after shoulder surgery. That, incidentally, is a big break for former Oriole Rene Gonzales, who should get more playing time with Gruber out.

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New faces: Pitcher Russ Springer, first baseman J. T. Snow and reliever Jerry Nielsen (acquired from Yankees in Abbott deal); third baseman Gruber (acquired from Toronto Blue Jays); designated hitter Chili Davis (signed as free agent), right-hander Scott Sanderson (signed as free agent); reserve outfielder Stan Javier (signed as free agent), Jerome Walton (signed as free agent).

Hot prospect: Outfielder Tim Salmon.

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Big question: Can rookie Springer pitch consistently enough to be the fourth or fifth starter?

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Spring priorities: Getting a wounded club healthy enough to assume a leadership role in the division. Ozzie Guillen is trying to come back from a serious knee injury. Newly acquired Ellis Burks needs to prove he can play regularly with a troublesome back. Right-hander Dave Stieb needs to prove his elbow is sound. . . . Finding a couple of winning pitchers to back up Jack McDowell in the starting rotation.

New faces: Center fielder Burks (signed as free agent); right-hander Stieb (signed as free agent); reliever Barry Jones (signed minor-league contract).

Hot prospects: Right-handers Rodney Bolton and Jason Bere, left-hander Larry Thomas.

Big question: Can Bo Jackson make a successful comeback with an artificial hip?

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Spring priorities: Manager Hal McRae must sort through a crowd of new players to put a representative team on the field. The Royals will bring 25 pitchers to spring training, though that is no guarantee that they will emerge with a strong pitching staff. Right-hander Mark Gubicza has to be healthy enough to complement David Cone and Kevin Appier in the starting rotation. The other two starters will come from a group that includes Hipolito Pichardo, left-handed prospect Chris Haney and veteran Rick Reed.

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New faces: Right-hander Cone (signed as a free agent); outfielder Felix Jose and third baseman Craig Wilson (acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals); second baseman Jose Lind (acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates); shortstop Greg Gagne (signed as a free agent); pitcher Mark Gardner (acquired in trade with Montreal).

Hot prospects: Haney, outfielder Kevin Koslofski, third baseman Wilson, third baseman Phil Hiatt.

Big question: Have the Royals finally turned the corner after a series of frightening finishes?

MINNESOTA TWINS

Spring priorities: Manager Tom Kelly needs to bring together his starting rotation, which includes only two sure things. Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson will be there, but the club has to hope that veterans Jim Deshaies or Bert Blyleven will be able to help. The back end of the five-man rotation should feature youngsters Pat Mahomes and Mike Trombley. Kelly also has to settle on a full-time shortstop (Scott Leius?) and find a third baseman.

New faces: Outfielder Dave Winfield (signed as a free agent); right-hander Blyleven (signed as a free agent); left-hander Deshaies (signed as a free agent).

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Hot prospects: Outfielder/first baseman David McCarty, right-hander Mahomes, right-hander Trombley, third baseman Terry Jorgenson.

Big question: Will sore-shouldered Kent Hrbek be able to play regularly at first base?

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Spring priorities: Manager Tony La Russa needs to choose a third baseman. Kevin Seitzer is the top contender, but Jerry Browne and Scott Brosius also are possibilities. The rest is up to pitching coach Dave Duncan, who should be able to put together a solid starting rotation if Bob Welch is healthy. The A's have Welch, Bobby Witt, Ron Darling, Storm Davis and Kelly Downs.

New faces: Right-hander Davis (signed as a free agent); right-hander Bob Milacki (signed a minor-league contract); left-hander Jeff Ballard (signed a minor-league contract); third baseman Seitzer (signed as a free agent).

Hot prospects: Pitcher Todd Van Poppel; designated hitter Troy Neal; infielder Brosius.

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Big question: How will the A's respond to the challenge of defending a division championship after losing team leaders Dave Stewart and Carney Lansford?

SEATTLE MARINERS

Spring priorities: New manager Lou Piniella will be looking to fill a rotation that improved dramatically with the addition of free-agent Chris Bosio. The Mariners still need to find out which Randy Johnson will show up for the season (the Nolan Ryan clone or the moody I-want-to-be-traded version).

New faces: Right-hander Bosio (signed as a free agent); outfielder Mike Felder (signed as a free agent); reliever Norm Charlton (acquired in trade with Cincinnati); catcher Mackey Sasser (signed as a free agent).

Hot prospects: Left-handed pitcher John Cummings.

Big question: Can Piniella instill a winning attitude in a club that has been a chronic loser?

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TEXAS RANGERS

Spring priorities: Rookie manager Kevin Kennedy needs to establish himself with a diverse group of personalities while incorporating seven new players into the mix. He also needs to convince Julio Franco that he should be the full-time designated hitter.

New faces: Left-hander Charlie Leibrandt (acquired from Atlanta Braves); left-hander Craig Lefferts (signed as a free agent); left-handed reliever Bob Patterson (signed as a free agent); right-handed relief stopper Tom Henke (signed as a free agent); second baseman Bill Ripken (signed as a free agent); shortstop Manuel Lee (signed as a free agent); outfielder Doug Dascenzo (signed as a free agent).

Hot prospect: Right-handed starting pitcher Roger Pavlik.

Big question: Can Kennedy, who has never spent an entire season in the major leagues as a player or coach, win the

respect and cooperation of a veteran ballclub?


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