By: Blake Tarrants, KCOU Sports
As the first spring training games draw near, teams’ main focuses are on getting their players ready, but also keeping them healthy. Any team, especially one who feels that they have a chance of contending in 2015, should have health and preparedness in mind before anything else. Spring training, in the past, has seen several teams lose a key player due to injury and be affected at the start of the regular season. Here are the three teams who most need to avoid injuries, both because of the position their rosters are in, and what it would do to their 2015 aspirations.
DETROIT TIGERS: Detroit has already been hit with a very early injury bug, with Victor Martinez, the second-leading candidate for AL MVP last season, expected to miss Opening Day because of a torn meniscus in his right knee. This comes after a torn ACL in the 2012 off-season caused him to miss that entire year. However, that year, Martinez suffered the injury early enough in the off-season that the Tigers had time to find a replacement, by signing former Brewer’s slugger and two-time home run derby champion Prince Fielder. This year, given the fact that Martinez suffered his injury in early February and the Tigers had just re-signed him and Miguel Cabrera the year before to enormous contracts, they will have to wait for his return and hope he comes back at full strength. With Cabrera’s health still questionable at this point after undergoing serious foot surgery mere weeks ago, the Tigers, who rely so heavily on offense and their big-name powerbats, can ill afford an injury to their thin starting pitching rotation or the supporting cast of their lineup.
BOSTON RED SOX: Boston definitely underwent a thorough roster remake this off-season, but they don’t appear to have much depth anywhere but the outfield. Their pitching staff especially, which appears to be headed by the highly inconsistent and injury-prone Clay Buchholz, the still developing Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly and Wade Miley, does not appear to be able to withstand any injuries. With no experience behind those arms, the Red Sox must stay healthy if they want to have any chance of pulling off another worst-to-first turnaround.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS: Outside of the late-season injury suffered by Garrett Richards and the seemingly endless ailments plaguing Josh Hamilton, the Halos were able to stay relatively healthy in the long-run last season. That allowed them to get to 98 wins, along with the MVP performance by Mike Trout and improving offense from Albert Pujols, who might be about to finally fulfill the enormous expectations that were placed upon him when he signed his megadeal in 2012. Now though, with Hamilton rumored to be suffering a relapse of his drug addictions, Richards still recovering from his knee injury, and declining pitchers like Jared Weaver and C.J Wilson behind him, the Angels need to be able to count on as many of their highly-paid veterans and, of course, another great season from Trout if they hope to win the AL West again.