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MLB: Preview capsules for AL Central

Published: Monday, March 25, 2013 7:10 p.m. CDT

DETROIT TIGERS

2012: 88-74, first place (lost to San Francisco in World Series)

Manager: Jim Leyland

Acquisitions: OF Torii Hunter, 2B Jeff Kobernus, LHP Kyle Lobstein, C Brayan Pena

Projected Lineup: CF Austin Jackson (.300, 16 HRs, 66 RBIs, 10 triples), RF Torii Hunter (.313, 16, 92), 3B Miguel Cabrera (.330, 44, 139), 1B Prince Fielder (.313, 30, 108), DH Victor Martinez (missed 2012 season), LF Andy Dirks (.322, 8, 35), SS Jhonny Peralta (.239, 13, 63), C Alex Avila (.243, 9, 48), 2B Omar Infante (.274, 12, 53)

Rotation: RH Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 ERA, 239 Ks), RH Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74, 231 Ks), RH Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45), RH Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86), LH Drew Smyly (4-3, 3.99) or RH Rick Porcello (10-12, 4.59)

Closer: RH Bruce Rondon (2-1, 1.53, 29/32 saves in 52 minor-league appearances)

Outlook: After two straight AL Central titles and an American League pennant in 2012, the window of opportunity for the Tigers is wide open. Cabrera, Verlander and Fielder are in their primes, and if Martinez can return strong after a knee injury cost him all of 2012, the lineup will be even more formidable.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

2012: 85-77, second place

Manager: Robin Ventura

Acquisitions: 3B Jeff Keppinger, RHP Matt Lindstrom

Projected Lineup: CF Alejandro De Aza (.281, 9 HRs, 50 RBIs), 3B Jeff Keppinger (.325, 9 , 40), RF Alex Rios (.304, 25, 91), 1B Paul Konerko (.298, 26, 75), DH Adam Dunn (.204, 41 HRs, 96 RBIs), LF Dayan Viciedo (.255, 25 78), SS Alexei Ramirez (.265, 9 , 73 ), C Tyler Flowers (.213, 7, 13), 2B Gordon Beckham (.234, 16 , 60)

Rotation: LH Chris Sale (17-8, 3.05 ERA), RH Jake Peavy (11-12, 3.37), LH John Danks (3-4, 5.70), RH Gavin Floyd (12-11, 4.29), LH Jose Quintana (6-6, 3.76)

Closer: RH Addison Reed (3-2, 4.75 ERA, 29/33 saves)

Outlook: The White Sox spent 117 days in first place last season, only to finish three games behind Detroit after a late fade. Now, they believe they are poised to challenge for the division crown. Never mind that they made no splashy acquisitions. The biggest moves were re-signing Peavy and locking in Sale with a new contract.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS

2012: 72-90, third place

Manager: Ned Yost

Acquisitions: RHP Ervin Santana, RHP James Shields, RHP Wade Davis

Projected Lineup: OF Alex Gordon (.294, 14 HRs, 72 RBIs), SS Alcides Escobar (.293, 5, 52, 35 SBs), 1B Eric Hosmer (.232, 14, 60), DH Billy Butler (.313, 29, 107), C Salvador Perez (.301, 11, 39), 3B Mike Moustakas (.242, 20, 73), OF Jeff Francoeur (.235, 16, 49), OF Lorenzo Cain (.266, 7, 31), 2B Chris Getz (.275, 0, 17)

Rotation: RH James Shields (15-10, 3.52 ERA), RH Jeremy Guthrie (5-3, 3.16), RH Ervin Santana (9-13, 5.16), RHP Wade Davis (3-0, 2.43 ERA), LH Bruce Chen (11-14, 5.07 ERA)

Closer: RH Greg Holland (7-4, 2.96, 16/20 saves)

Outlook: General manager Dayton Moore might have said it best: “It’s time we start winning baseball games.” The Royals haven’t had a winning season since 2003, and haven’t been to the playoffs since 1985. But they wouldn’t have traded Brett Myers for pitching help if they didn’t believe the pieces were in place for a breakthrough season.

CLEVELAND INDIANS

2012: 68-94, fourth place

Manager: Terry Francona

Acquisitions: OF Michael Bourn, 1B Nick Swisher, OF Drew Stubbs, DH Mark Reynolds, DH Jason Giambi, RHP Brett Myers, INF/OF Ryan Raburn, INF Mike Aviles, LHP Scott Kazmir

Projected Lineup: CF Michael Bourn (.274, 9 HRs, 57 RBIs, 42 steals), SS Asdrubal Cabrera (.270, 16, 68, 35 doubles), 2B Jason Kipnis (.257, 14, 76, 31 SBs), 1B Nick Swisher (.272, 24, 93), C Carlos Santana (.252, 18, 76) LF Michael Brantley (.288, 6, 60), DH Mark Reynolds (.221, 23, 68) or Jason Giambi (.225, 1, 8), 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (.268, 5, 16,) RF Drew Stubbs (.213, 14, 40)

Rotation: RH Justin Masterson (11-15, 4.93 ERA) RH Ubaldo Jimenez (9-17, 5.40), RH Brett Myers (3-8, 3.32), RH Zach McAllister (6-8, 4.24), LH Scott Kazmir (3-6, 5.34)

Closer: RH Chris Perez (0-4, 3.59, 39/43 saves)

Outlook: Francona’s arrival in Cleveland triggered an aggressive offseason by Indians ownership, which spent nearly $120 million on free agents.

MINNESOTA TWINS

2012: 66-96, fifth place

Manager: Ron Gardenhire (12th season)

Acquisitions: RHP Mike Pelfrey, RHP Vance Worley, RHP Kevin Correia, CF Aaron Hicks

Projected Lineup: CF Aaron Hicks (.286, 13 HRs, 61 RBIs, 32 SBs in 129 Gs for Double-A New Britain), 2B Brian Dozier (.234, 6, 33, 11 doubles) or Jamey Carroll (.268, 1, 40), C Joe Mauer (.319, 10, 85, .416 OBP), 1B Justin Morneau (.267, 19, 77, in 134 games), LF Josh Willingham (.260, 35, 110, .524 SLG), 3B Trevor Plouffe (.235, 24, 55), RF Chris Parmelee (.229, 5, 20), SS Pedro Florimon (.219, 1, 10)

Rotation: RH Vance Worley (6-9, 4.20 ERA), LH Scott Diamond (12-9, 3.54), RH Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 2.29), RH Kevin Correia (12-11, 4.21), RH Samuel Deduno (6-5, 4.44)

Closer: LH Glen Perkins (3-1, 2.56 ERA, 16/20 saves

Outlook: Mauer and Morneau will enter the season healthier than they have been in years, with both looking to build off bounce-back years in 2012. But even if they return to their MVP-type production levels, the Twins will be hard-pressed to get back into contention.

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