SS Andrelton Simmons (Western): The Braves’ starting shortstop isn’t an offensive dynamo (.248, 59 RBIs) but is a tough out and plays solid defense. The No. 6 hitter, Simmons and others will be asked to produce more run support for a pitching staff hit by injuries.
Manager John Farrell (OSU): After managing Toronto the two previous seasons, Farrell led the Red Sox to 97 wins and the World Series title in in his debut season. The Red Sox also won the AL East for the first time in six years. Can they repeat?
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
P David Purcey (OU): The former first-round draft pick made it back to the majors last season and pitched well (2.31 ERA) in 25 innings with the White Sox. He didn’t have a strong spring but was still on the major league roster heading into the weekend.
Manager Robin Ventura (OSU): The former star third baseman’s club is coming off a disappointing 63-99 finish, a year after he led the White Sox to 85 wins in his managerial debut. Management showed confidence by giving Ventura a multi-year extension weeks before spring training.
P Brett Anderson (Stillwater): Injuries have limited the 26-year-old left-hander the past three years. He logged only 45 innings with Oakland last season. Some believe Anderson is better suited for the bullpen, but the Rockies obtained him in a trade to fill a rotation spot.
P Garrett Richards (Edmond Memorial, OU): The 25-year-old right-hander was 5-4 with a 3.60 ERA his final 13 starts to earn the No. 3 spot in the rotation behind Jared Weaver and C.J. Wilson. A big year could lead to a big contract.
OF Matt Kemp (Midwest City): Plagued by injuries, playing in only 179 games the past two seasons, Kemp will start the season on the DL but could be activated this first week. When healthy, Kemp notched MVP-quality stats (.324, 39 HRs, 126 RBIs) three years ago.
P Jamey Wright (Westmoore): After pitching well on Tampa Bay’s AL wild-card team, the 39-year-old right-hander returns to LA. Now a bullpen specialist, Wright is nearing 2,000 career innings and has posted a sub-4.00 ERA the past four seasons.
3B/PH Greg Dobbs (OU): The 35-year-old bench specialist hit .228 with 22 RBIs last season in 237 at-bats. Dobbs is one of only four Marlins who were on Miami’s Opening Day roster two years ago.
SS Jason Bartlett (OU): Despite missing the entire 2013 season, and batting only .083 in spring training, the Twins put the 34-year-old veteran on their Opening Day roster as insurance at several positions.
Manager Ron Gardenhire (Okmulgee): The Twins have averaged 97 losses the past three seasons, but gave Gardenhire a two-year deal. This will be his 13th season leading the Twins, who have won 998 games and six division titles under Gardenhire.
Jeremy Hefner (Perkins, ORU): The 27-year-old right-hander, who once lived in Moore, was 4-8 with a 4.34 ERA in 23 starts. After undergoing Tommy John surgery six months ago, Hefner could return around midseason.
SS Jordy Mercer (Taloga, OSU): Earning the everyday shortstop job, Mercer played well for the Pirates, who ended a lengthy playoff drought. After starting the season in Triple-A, Mercer hit .285 with eight homers in 333 at-bats with Pittsburgh.
P Andy Oliver (OSU), Pittsburgh: Scouts are mixed on whether the former second-round pick might be better served moving to the bullpen. The 26-year-old lefty was 5-4 with a 4.05 ERA last year at Triple-A Indianapolis. He was still with the Pirates, in the bullpen, heading into the weekend.
OF Matt Holliday (Stillwater): The six-time All-Star is a career .311 hitter coming off another standout season (.300, 22 HRs, 103 runs, 94 RBIs). Helping fill the Albert Pujols void, Holliday helped lead the Cardinals to the World Series.
SS Pete Kozma (Owasso): Despite starting 24 of 30 postseason games the past two years, the 25-year-old is now a bench player. After the Cardinals signed veteran Jhonny Peralta, there were rumors St. Louis was trying to trade Kozma.
P Josh Johnson (Jenks): Last season, Johnson was plagued by injuries, going 2-8 with Toronto. The 30-year-old right-hander owns a 58-45 record with a 3.40 ERA in 160 career starts. Johnson will start the season on the DL (strained forearm) and might not return until May.
1B Adam LaRoche (Seminole State): LaRoche is in the final year of a two-year $24 million deal. LaRoche’s production dropped (20 HRs, 62 RBIs) last season after he slammed 33 homers with 100 RBIs the previous year.
Notable Oklahomans in the minors
Additional players with Oklahoma ties in pro baseball. Some are attempting to return to the majors. Others are high-profile prospects working their up the minor league ladder.
OF Lane Adams (Red Oak), Kansas City: A 13th-round pick five years ago, Adams received five at-bats with the big-league team (Royals) this spring after stealing 38 bases. He will play at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.