The Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles embrace heightened expectations that accompany success within the rugged AL East, which again figures to be one of the most balanced divisions in baseball.
The teams begin the season Tuesday at Tropicana Field, each brimming with confidence and eager to set the tone for achieving a goal of playing deep into October.
''We feel we have a group that is capable of getting to the playoffs, playing the last game of the year and winning it,'' Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said Monday.
''You should never run away from expectations,'' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon echoed. ''We don't believe it's hyperbole. We really think it can be done.''
So do the Orioles, who stopped a string of 14 consecutive losing seasons by winning 93 games and beating Texas in the AL wild-card game last fall.
One of the challenges this year is to prove their run, which ended with a loss to the AL East champion Yankees in Game 5 of the divisional series, wasn't a fluke.