As the Cactus League opens for play Wednesday, the most immediate story line is not difficult to determine: Is there really a rivalry between the
The Dodgers won the
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks face each other Wednesday and Thursday, then once more in Arizona, then twice in Sydney, in the opening series down under. SportsNet LA, the Dodgers' new television channel, plans to fill the hours before the season opener with replays of two games between the teams last season — the one in which the Dodgers jumped into the Arizona pool, and the one with the bench-clearing brawl.
After the teams return to the United States, they play each other on consecutive weekends in April — first in Phoenix, then at Dodger Stadium.
By then, the local focus ought to shift to the Dodgers' chances to make the
Here are five story lines from the Cactus League, focusing on the teams that could stand between the Dodgers and Angels and their goals:
If that trend of even years is to continue, it will be because of the starting pitching, and the only change in the rotation between last season and this is
Madison Bumgarner has emerged as elite, but the Giants need the
Cain's earned-run average jumped from 2.79 to 4.00 — albeit 2.36 after the All-Star break — and Vogelsong's from 3.37 to 5.73.
In 2011, the last time the
Derek Holland started 33 games last season, but he is expected to sit out the first half of this one because of a knee injury. The other seven experienced starters —
In third baseman
Headley hit 31 home runs two years ago but hit 13 last year. Quentin averaged 27 home runs in four years with the
Headley already is injured this spring; he is expected to sit out two to three weeks because of a strained calf.
In 2012, Arizona finished fourth in the NL in runs and sixth in home runs. But the Diamondbacks thought they were too dependent on home runs, so they traded
In 2013, they finished fifth in runs, 11th in home runs. So back to power they went, their major off-season move the acquisition of
Trumbo and NL most-valuable-player runner-up
End of an era
Phoenix Municipal harks back to a time when teams treated
In 1964, Willie Mays hit the first spring home run at Phoenix Municipal; some of the light towers there once stood at New York's Polo Grounds.
This is the last major league camp at Phoenix Municipal. The A's move to Mesa next year.