The Week Ahead: Opening day 2.0 across the majors

Zack Greinke already has allowed more earned runs than he did in the first six weeks of 2009, the Astros already have endured a six-game losing streak and Milton Bradley already has been caught flipping off fans.

And 10 teams haven’t played a home game yet.
 
That will change Monday and Tuesday as baseball season moves into the very early stage from the very, very early.
 
Three openers that figure to be a little more special than the rest:
 

Twins vs. Red Sox 

Don’t blame the Twins for watching the Minnesota weather forecasts lately. They will play outdoors at home for the first time since 1981 when they open Target Field on Monday afternoon (4 ET, ESPN).
 
Denard Span plays meteorolgist ahead of Monday's opener.
Denard Span plays meteorolgist ahead of Monday’s opener.

"It’s a little shaky rain-wise for (Monday) but the rest of the week is looking good," center fielder Denard Span said.

 
Though temperatures in the 70s are expected this week, freezing weather is a threat well into May in Minneapolis. The Twins don’t mind. They are thrilled to be moving into their own ball yard, which has received mostly rave reviews (except for the lack of a roof).
 
"We’ve been in the other place so long it’s hard to believe it’s our ballpark," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You walk out and see this beautiful ballpark. It’s going to be an emotional day."
 
The Twins didn’t let the anticipation of opening a new park or, more impressively, the loss of All-Star closer Joe Nathan distract them in the season’s first week. They won five of seven on a trip that included three wins at Anaheim, an overnight flight to Chicago and two wins against the White Sox. They trail the first-place Tigers by a half-game in the AL Central.
 

Phillies vs. Nationals

 
The NL champions could not be blamed if they wanted to stay on the road after their offensive barrage at Washington and Houston. The Phillies pounded out at least 11 hits in each of their first five games and were hitting .337 before the offense slowed Sunday, though they still won behind Roy Halladay.
 
The Phillies won’t have their ring ceremony until later in the week but there still could be plenty of thrills Monday. They face the Nationals, whom they have beaten in 20 of the past 24 meetings.
 

Yankees vs. Angels

Expect a spectacle Tuesday when the Bombers open at home and celebrate their latest World Series championship. In addition to a ring ceremony, the club will show off flags for every one of its championships. Considering the Yankees have 27, finding room for them all could be a challenge.
 
Monday’s other openers:
 
Astros at Cardinals. The unknown here: Does new hitting coach Mark McGwire get the second-biggest ovation (the biggest is a given) from the Busch Stadium sellout crowd? Competition is stiff: Matt Holliday; Monday’s starter, Adam Wainwright; Chris Carpenter; Yadier Molina, and yes, even manager Tony La Russa.
 
Brewers at Cubs. Considering the Cubs’ slow start, don’t be surprised if the Wrigley Field faithful let out a few boos. But without Bradley around, who becomes the whipping boy? Alfonso Soriano, off to a 3-for-21 start, is a strong possibility.
 
Rangers at Indians. Though Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore sat out Sunday with a stiff back, he still could play Monday afternoon. The game also is expected to sell out. As of Sunday night, however, neither was a certainty.
 
White Sox at Blue Jays. A 5-1 trip to Texas and Baltimore has Toronto atop the AL East and should, for now, calm the locals who are still angry that Halladay is pitching in Philadelphia. Pitching rather well, too. He’s 2-0 after a complete-game victory over the Astros on Sunday. 
 
Athletics at Mariners. No team will be happier to be home than Seattle, which has grabbed the early lead for most disappointing team. Thank you, newcomers Milton Bradley (1-for-21) and Cliff Lee (out until May).
 

Braves at Padres. Atlanta will be trying to go to 2-1 in openers, having won its own a week ago before losing in San Francisco on Friday. The odds are in the Braves’ favor: The last time they lost a series in San Diego was in 2005.

 
Diamondbacks at Dodgers. The focus at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday figures to be as much on the box seats near the home team’s dugout as on the field. Will owner Frank McCourt and estranged wife Jamie both show? Who gets the front-row seats? Will Tommy Lasorda play middle man? Stay tuned. The soap opera is far from over. 

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

Zack Greinke already has allowed more earned runs than he did in the first six weeks of 2009, the Astros already have endured a six-game losing streak and Milton Bradley already has been caught flipping off fans.

And 10 teams haven’t played a home game yet.
 
That will change Monday and Tuesday as baseball season moves into the very early stage from the very, very early.
 
Three openers that figure to be a little more special than the rest:
 

Twins vs. Red Sox 

Don’t blame the Twins for watching the Minnesota weather forecasts lately. They will play outdoors at home for the first time since 1981 when they open Target Field on Monday afternoon (4 ET, ESPN).
 
Denard Span plays meteorolgist ahead of Monday's opener.
Denard Span plays meteorolgist ahead of Monday’s opener.

"It’s a little shaky rain-wise for (Monday) but the rest of the week is looking good," center fielder Denard Span said.

 
Though temperatures in the 70s are expected this week, freezing weather is a threat well into May in Minneapolis. The Twins don’t mind. They are thrilled to be moving into their own ball yard, which has received mostly rave reviews (except for the lack of a roof).
 
"We’ve been in the other place so long it’s hard to believe it’s our ballpark," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You walk out and see this beautiful ballpark. It’s going to be an emotional day."
 
The Twins didn’t let the anticipation of opening a new park or, more impressively, the loss of All-Star closer Joe Nathan distract them in the season’s first week. They won five of seven on a trip that included three wins at Anaheim, an overnight flight to Chicago and two wins against the White Sox. They trail the first-place Tigers by a half-game in the AL Central.
 

Phillies vs. Nationals

 
The NL champions could not be blamed if they wanted to stay on the road after their offensive barrage at Washington and Houston. The Phillies pounded out at least 11 hits in each of their first five games and were hitting .337 before the offense slowed Sunday, though they still won behind Roy Halladay.
 
The Phillies won’t have their ring ceremony until later in the week but there still could be plenty of thrills Monday. They face the Nationals, whom they have beaten in 20 of the past 24 meetings.
 

Yankees vs. Angels

Expect a spectacle Tuesday when the Bombers open at home and celebrate their latest World Series championship. In addition to a ring ceremony, the club will show off flags for every one of its championships. Considering the Yankees have 27, finding room for them all could be a challenge.
 
Monday’s other openers:
 
Astros at Cardinals. The unknown here: Does new hitting coach Mark McGwire get the second-biggest ovation (the biggest is a given) from the Busch Stadium sellout crowd? Competition is stiff: Matt Holliday; Monday’s starter, Adam Wainwright; Chris Carpenter; Yadier Molina, and yes, even manager Tony La Russa.
 
Brewers at Cubs. Considering the Cubs’ slow start, don’t be surprised if the Wrigley Field faithful let out a few boos. But without Bradley around, who becomes the whipping boy? Alfonso Soriano, off to a 3-for-21 start, is a strong possibility.
 
Rangers at Indians. Though Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore sat out Sunday with a stiff back, he still could play Monday afternoon. The game also is expected to sell out. As of Sunday night, however, neither was a certainty.
 
White Sox at Blue Jays. A 5-1 trip to Texas and Baltimore has Toronto atop the AL East and should, for now, calm the locals who are still angry that Halladay is pitching in Philadelphia. Pitching rather well, too. He’s 2-0 after a complete-game victory over the Astros on Sunday. 
 
Athletics at Mariners. No team will be happier to be home than Seattle, which has grabbed the early lead for most disappointing team. Thank you, newcomers Milton Bradley (1-for-21) and Cliff Lee (out until May).
 

Braves at Padres. Atlanta will be trying to go to 2-1 in openers, having won its own a week ago before losing in San Francisco on Friday. The odds are in the Braves’ favor: The last time they lost a series in San Diego was in 2005.

 
Diamondbacks at Dodgers. The focus at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday figures to be as much on the box seats near the home team’s dugout as on the field. Will owner Frank McCourt and estranged wife Jamie both show? Who gets the front-row seats? Will Tommy Lasorda play middle man? Stay tuned. The soap opera is far from over. 

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

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