Archive for Monday, April 5, 2010

Several stars on mend for today’s openers

April 5, 2010

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Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the list. So are Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets. Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman, Colorado Rockies closer Huston Street and Seattle Mariners pitcher Cliff Lee are right there, too.

You could field a pretty good team with the injured players sitting out opening day.

“Everybody’s got their challenges,” said Royals manager Trey Hillman, who already has two third basemen and his No. 2 starter on the disabled list. “You just try to make sure you have enough depth and enough coverage to feel comfortable with what you’re running out there.”

The Red Sox kicked off the season with a 9-7 victory over the World Series champion Yankees on Sunday night. New York catcher Jorge Posada picked up baseball’s first hit of the season with a two-out solo homer off Josh Beckett in the second inning, but Dustin Pedroia drove in three runs to help Boston rally for the victory over the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Baseball begins again in earnest with a full slate of games today.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals host the NL champion Philadelphia Phillies, who begin the season with closer Brad Lidge, setup man J.C. Romero and starter Joe Blanton on the DL.

One day in, and Obama will have more time on the mound than three key pitchers on one of the National League’s best teams.

“I’m going to be warming him up,” Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez said of baseball’s First Fan. “I’m going to take a picture with him, if he’ll let me. It’ll be exciting.”

In Cincinnati, new St. Louis hitting coach Mark McGwire will get his first true test of what to expect on the road this year when the Cardinals face the Reds. McGwire admitted over the winter to using steroids and human growth hormone for part of his playing career.

“It’s going to be really good,” said McGwire, looking forward to the opener. “The potential of this team is really, really good.”

The Rangers also think they’re going to do well this season, as evidenced by team president Nolan Ryan’s prediction of at least 92 victories. But they will be without Kinsler when they host the Toronto Blue Jays on opening day.

Kinsler, who had a career-high 31 homers and 86 RBIs last year, is on the disabled list with a high right ankle sprain and the Rangers are determined to be patient with him.

“You don’t want something to just keep on recurring throughout the year,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “So we have to make sure it’s right, and the good thing about it, Kinsler’s in a good frame with that. He wants to come back one time, we want him to come back one time, and whatever amount of time that it takes to get that done, we’re going to do it.”

That’s the theme when it comes to injuries this early in the season: Take care of it now so it doesn’t become a yearlong problem.

The Royals placed right-hander Gil Meche and infielders Alex Gordon and Josh Fields on the DL on Saturday. They also could be without switch-hitting infielder Alberto Callaspo (irritation in his right side), who is iffy for one of opening day’s juiciest pitching matchups — AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke against Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

The Mets also are banged up, recalling painful memories of the injuries they dealt with in 2009. Shortstop Reyes (thyroid), center fielder Beltran (right knee surgery) and first baseman Daniel Murphy (sprained right knee) will be out when New York begins its second season at Citi Field with a matchup against Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins.

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