Thu, Mar 28, 2013 - Page 19 News List

MLB: Stars, new signings gather as season gets under way

SHOWTIME:A flurry of changes and new signings that has fanned hopes from Toronto to Texas is to be put to the test from Sunday, when the MLB season begins

Reuters, NEW YORK

While getting older may be a curse for the Yankees, it could turn the Washington Nationals into champions.

The NL East-winning Nationals, who won an MLB-best 98 games last season, caused a stir when they shut down young pitching ace Stephen Strasburg (15-6) in early September over worries about overtaxing his arm.

Strasburg was missed in the playoffs as Washington lost to the St Louis Cardinals, but his restrictions have been removed and Washington could be primed to bring the first World Series crown to the US capital in 89 years.

Atlanta, perennial NL East contenders, added the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J., over the offseason to add punch to their attack.

Toronto restructured their roster, livening up the offense with shortstop Jose Reyes, and the rotation with Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle as part of a blockbuster trade with Miami.

A deal with the Mets brought them Cy Young knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in their bid to supplant the Yanks in the AL East and recapture the glory of their 1992-1993 World Series triumphs.

In the AL Central, the Royals added pitching to their emerging offense by dealing prospect Wil Myers to Tampa Bay for starters James Shields and Wade Davis, though reigning AL champions Detroit still look to be the class of the division.

The Cincinnati Reds, who won 97 games last year, remain a solid favorite in the NL Central with the consistent St Louis Cardinals always a threat.

The AL West, which includes the pitching-rich, division-winning Oakland As, Rangers and Angels, could grow even more competitive, with Seattle beefing up on offense after adding Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse.

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