Outlook high for Feldman, Rangers
Righty set to face Jays in first Opening Day start
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers will have long-time nemesis Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup, and Cowboys hero Roger Staubach -- on baseball's biggest holiday -- will be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in honor of his work in bringing football's biggest game to the palace next door.Tom Hicks will still be the owner, as the sale of the club to a group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg is still not complete. "Hopefully [the sale will get done] by some time in April," said Nolan Ryan, who enters his third season as club president and has stated that a team that won 87 games in 2009 should win at least 92 this season. Plus a division title. Game time is 1:05 p.m. CT on Monday. The opponent is the Toronto Blue Jays.
There will be a sellout crowd with all the usual festivities at the Ballpark in Arlington, which opens up its 17th season in existence while waiting for the new ownership group to install a new video scoreboard and other renovations, and for all the construction to be completed in time for the Super Bowl.A baseball team will also be there, led by manager Ron Washington in his fourth season at the job. This 25-man unit faces some of the biggest expectations heaped on the Rangers in many years. Perhaps not since 2001, when Hicks stood next to a pool in Puerto Rico and predicted the Rangers would win a division title, have the Rangers gone into a season with such high expectations. In past years, the buzz phrase was always to "manage expectations." There is no spin control this time, and the Rangers are not fazed by that. "This is a confident team," said third baseman Michael Young. "The good thing is there has been no 'rah rah' about it. We've been doing it on the field, getting our work in, getting things done. We know what we need to, and we know there are good things ahead." At the forefront of the Opening Day sellout crowd will be right-hander Scott Feldman. Just a few years ago, he was a side-arming middle reliever -- at best. Now Feldman is a 17-game winner and will be the Rangers' Opening Day starting pitcher. "I'm excited," Feldman said. "It will be fun pitching in front of the big crowd, my family, everybody. I'm really looking forward to it." Kevin Millwood had been the Rangers' Opening day starter for four years before being traded to the Orioles in the offseason. There was some sentiment for Rich Harden to have the honor, but the Rangers felt Feldman was the right choice. "He deserves it," Washington said. "He had a great year last year and has thrown the ball really well this spring. He's focused, he's ready, he's our guy." This is a first for Feldman: a first not just as the Opening Day starter but even being in the Opening Day rotation. Two seasons ago, Feldman was converted from reliever to starter at the end of Spring Training, and was supposed to learn his role at Double-A Frisco last year.
|Projected Opening Day lineup|
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.