AL's most interesting storyline of spring?

SportsBaseballAlex RodriguezDerek JeterNew York YankeesLos Angeles AngelsJosh Hamilton

A-Rod makes it a zoo

Paul Doyle

Hartford Courant

The Yankees have plenty of intriguing stories, starting with two future Hall of Famers (Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter) coming off injuries at an advanced age. But the status of their icons may be overshadowed by Alex Rodriguez this spring.

A-Rod, embroiled in a PED scandal, is attempting to come back from a hip injury and he's likely to move his rehabilitation to Tampa, Fla., at some point. Imagine the media circus that will ensue when A-Rod shows his face at Steinbrenner Field.

Rivera's knee and Jeter's ankle would be the focus of any other spring. But A-Rod and all the drama he brings will turn the Yankees' camp into a zoo. Grab some popcorn and enjoy, baseball fans.

pdoyle@tribune.com

Blue Jays roll the dice

Kevin Baxter

Los Angeles Times

The Blue Jays are on the clock after a busy winter that saw them assume $145 million in contract obligations when they acquired Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from the Marlins before committing another $46 million to R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera.

The timing seems good. With the Red Sox rebuilding and the Yankees on the decline, Toronto's front office has seized the opportunity to return to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

Still, it's a high-stakes gamble because if it doesn't work out, the team will be saddled with a massive payroll of unmovable contracts and a minor league system suddenly short on depth. We'll start to find out whether the wager was a wise one in the coming weeks.

kbaxter@tribune.com

Angels boom or bust?

Childs Walker

Baltimore Sun

My eyes will be on the Angels. Rarely does a club present such wildly divergent possibilities.

The Angels could become Yankees West — a star-laden traveling carnival that buries opponents under home runs and quality starts. Maybe Mike Trout really is the next Willie Mays. Maybe Albert Pujols just got off to a bad start last year. Maybe Josh Hamilton can stay healthy and approximate his MVP past.

Or the Angels could be an epic, home-for-October bust. In that version, Trout takes an inevitable step back, Pujols falls another year into his decline phase and Hamilton struggles with injuries and a tougher home park. Either path seems equally possible, and that's a story worth watching.

cwalker3@tribune.com

Will Jeter be Jeter?

Phil Rogers

Chicago Tribune

Given the angst over Alex Rodriguez's health and recent link to the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, as well as the departure of free agents Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano, it's easy to take Derek Jeter's superhuman status for granted.

People expect him to play in 2013 like that ugly broken ankle in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series didn't happen, and that's unrealistic.

Jeter must prove he can play a solid shortstop on a bad leg at age 38. If he doesn't, the Yankees are going to unravel around him.

progers@tribune.com

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