Injured stars sitting out opening day
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.”
After Sunday night’s major league opener between Boston and the New York Yankees, baseball begins 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.
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 believe 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 Toronto on opening day.
Kinsler, who had a career-high 31 homers and 86 RBIs last year, is on the DL with a high right ankle sprain.
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).
The Mets also are banged up. 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 against the Florida Marlins.
Mets manager Jerry Manuel is hoping opening-day starter Johan Santana and the rest of his rotation can shoulder the load with the position players out.
“It’s definitely time for these guys to step up,” Manuel said.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is turning to 6-foot-11 Jon Rauch to fill the void created when closer Joe Nathan was shelved for the season following right elbow surgery.
Minnesota is at the Los Angeles Angels for opening day in a matchup of defending division champions.
, and Gardenhire seems as anxious as anyone to see how the closer situation works out.
“Whether they can close or not, you’re right there with me,” he said. “We’re going to be sitting in the seats watching them pitch. Hopefully they can handle the situations.”