The start of the regular season for 28 of the 30 Major League teams is just days away, which means that most teams are winding down with the final days of Spring Training and making the last few decisions to round out their roster. Every team has until 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday to cement its official roster for the start of the regular season and to prepare for the long haul ahead of them.
The season has already officially begun, of course, thanks to the series played between Seattle and Oakland in Japan. The Mariners and A's split two games last week, then returned to Arizona to resume their Cactus League schedules, and they're now trying to shake off the jet lag and prepare for their stateside opener on Friday at 10:05 p.m. ET in Oakland.
"I think we'll have enough time here where we'll be on track," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "We have a lot of young kids who are pretty resilient. I was really proud how they handled themselves over in Japan, with everything going on both on and off the field. I felt they represented themselves well.
"Now, it's just [time] to get them back on track with their sleeping patterns and with their [routine] as quickly as we can."
Oakland and Seattle are the only teams that had to deal with that particular stumbling block, and the remaining clubs are busy sorting out who belongs on their respective Opening Day pitching staffs. The Rockies, in fact, may have issued a small surprise by tabbing 49-year-old Jamie Moyer -- who missed last year with a left elbow injury -- as their No. 2 starter.
Moyer has won 267 games, and with one more victory, he'll become the oldest man in Major League history to earn a win. Moyer, of course, may feel like he's already earned a victory of sorts just by making it back to a big league rotation.
"I've learned to appreciate things a little bit more and understand things a little bit more, without trying to get too sentimental or too deep into it," Moyer said last week. "I'm just really appreciating the opportunity that I've been given."
Moyer certainly isn't alone in that respect, and the Mets will have another veteran southpaw making his own return on Opening Day. Johan Santana hasn't made a start since Sept. 2, 2010, but the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner will bring his surgically repaired left shoulder to the mound on Thursday at 1:10 p.m. for the Mets against the Braves at Citi Field.
And while shoulder surgery presents anything but a stable recovery rate, Santana will push that out of his mind. The left-hander will have a chance to resume his career, and he'll have a grueling rehabilitation regimen to thank for his return.
"It means that everything that we have done since I had my surgery, all the way to today, has paid off," said the four-time All-Star of his inclusion in New York's Opening Day rotation. "We worked hard, and I'm very happy."
The Marlins, who shocked baseball with a turbulent offseason spending spree, had their own cause to rejoice this weekend, as they moved into their new stadium and played a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees. Miami played under a closed roof in Sunday's stifling heat, and it will open up its ballpark in earnest on Wednesday night at 7:05 against the defending World Series champion Cardinals.
"There was definite excitement with the fans," said Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez after Sunday's game, a 10-8 Yankees win. "There were a lot of people here. It was electric out there. It's definitely a nice feeling, coming from Spring Training to actually playing in this stadium. Soft opening or not, we were still playing the Yankees.
"We were still going out there trying to win. There was definitely some good electricity by the fans."
The Red Sox, buoyed by some of the game's most boisterous fans, rarely have to worry about support in their own home park, and they'll have an issue that keeps everyone compelled in the early season. Projected closer Andrew Bailey has a right thumb injury and will likely miss some time, instantly creating the need for Boston's bullpen to use a contingency plan.
Manager Bobby Valentine has held his cards close to the vest, but reliever Mark Melancon is considered a candidate to fill in for Bailey. Fellow reliever Alfredo Aceves was expected to play a significant role in Boston's bullpen, but a right thumb "situation," as Valentine described it, afflicting starter Josh Beckett may force the club to use Aceves as a fill-in starter. The Red Sox, Valentine said, will do whatever it takes to win.
"I'm really going to let this thing breathe," Valentine said of his late-inning relief situation. "As weird as it is to a lot of the players on the team -- the last thing I want to do is make it any less comfortable than it has to be -- everybody, I think, understands the situation that I talked [about] today. We're going to leave here and go to Washington and probably make the decision when we have to -- when plane tickets have to be bought or hotel rooms have to be reserved."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.