First game of the year, and here at the lineups for today's first game against the Rockies down in Tucson. First pitch will be happening shortly, and the game is being broadcast on 620 AM, KTAR, for those in reception range - I imagine it'll also be available on MLB Gameday Audio. Which reminds me, must renew my subscription to that. Anyway, the starting nines for the two sides are:
Early days yet, but it does look as if Felipe Lopez is going to be given every chance to become the everyday leadoff hitter for the Diamondbacks. No sign of Stephen Drew, and I am a little surprised to see Chris Young batting third: I wouldn't be surprised to see him at #2 and Drew hitting third, especially against left-handers. Chad Tracy gets the start at 1B - no Conor Jackson either - and bats clean-up. There's a good story on Chad's return from injury, and his new perspective: “All the stress that you put on yourself—every night beating yourself up for those 0-for-4s or leaving that guy on third with less than two. You can take a step back and look at things in the big picture, and tell yourself how fortunate you are to be in a situation like that.”
Montero is behind the plate and the only position player unlikely to make the Opening Day roster is Australian Trent Oeltjen. No real surprise there, as the word was that Eric Byrnes would get gently eased into spring, despite his claim to be be really, truly, for sure honestly this time, possessing 100% healthy hamstrings. It will be interesting to see how Bob Melvin handles the lineup in spring, getting Byrnes and Jackson into play, and what positions they deal with. Also keep an eye on Tracy, to see if he gets playing time at third-base too.
The pitchers for Arizona will start with Billy Buckner, who'll throw two innings. He'll be followed to the mound by Juan Gutierrez and Hector Ambriz , who'll also work a pair apiece. Ceser Valdez, Leo Rosales and Esmerling Vasquez will then take over the remaining three frames. None of those are locks for a spot in the bullpen, but there are a few names - Gutierrez and Buckner in particular - who could challenge for the two slots apparently opening for competition there [I'm assuming Yusmeiro Petit has a virtual lock on the long-relief/spot-start role]. They'll therefore be keen to make a good impression in the early going.
Without much in the way of live coverage, I doubt there'll be many comments as the game progresses, but feel free to monitor the box score online.