Last updated: February 03. 2014 7:00PM - 576 Views

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Headline: Spring training only days away

With the NFL season over, let’s start focusing on baseball. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in the next couple of weeks for both the Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals’ pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12 with full-squad workouts set for Feb. 17. The Royals’ dates are Feb. 14 and Feb. 19.

Both the Royals and Cardinals made significant changes in the offseason.

The Cardinals will have new starters at six positions. Matt Carpenter moves from second base to play third, and Allen Craig moves from first base to right field. Rookie Kolten Wong takes over at second base, and Matt Adams will start at first base after having a breakout season as a reserve. Newcomers Jhonny Peralta and Peter Bourjos will start at shortstop and center field, respectively.

The changes were necessary because the Cardinals lost right fielder Carlos Beltran to the Yankees in free agency, and they traded third baseman David Freese to the Angels for Bourjos and a promising minor league outfielder.

Shortstop and center field were two areas of concern last season for the Cardinals. Peralta and his big bat replace the light-hitting Pete Kozma, and Bourjos is expected to be the everyday center fielder over Jon Jay.

The pitching staff looks strong with the return of Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn to the rotation. Trevor Rosenthal will be the closer, while former closer Jason Motte works his way back into form after missing last season after have Tommy John surgery.

The Royals brought in two new starters. Omar Infante will give the Royals some stability at second base, Norichika Aoki will start in right field, and Danny Valencia is expected to push Mike Moustakas at third base.

James Shields, Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie are back in the starting rotation with Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura and newcomer Jason Vargas waiting in the wings.

Closer Greg Holland and setup men Aaron Crow, Tim Collins and Luke Hochevar will again give the Royals a stout bullpen.

The Royals open the season at defending AL Central champion Detroit on March 31, and the Cardinals open at Cincinnati later that day.

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