With the Texas Rangers set to make their Cactus League debut this afternoon against their Surprise, Ariz., bunkmates, the Kansas City Royals, the lineups are in.
Let's take a look at who Rangers manager Ron Washington has penciled in on his lineup card today.
2B Ian Kinsler; SS Elvis Andrus; LF David Murphy; RF Nelson Cruz; C A.J. Pierzynski; DH Jeff Baker; 1B Mitch Moreland; 3B Mike Olt; CF Leonys Martin; LHP Derek Holland
Two of the biggest players to watch today are Martin and Holland. Holland, who is pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic beginning in about a week, is ahead of most of the Rangers' pitchers on his throwing schedule and is scheduled to throw about 50 pitches today.
Obviously, as we've discussed here plenty of times, Holland is a key figure in the Rangers' success or lack thereof this season. Yes, it's his Cactus League debut, but a sharp Holland would be a nice thing to see.
It's somewhat interesting Martin is getting the starting nod in center as he and Craig Gentry are set to platoon this season and Martin is getting the start in the first game. There's no question Martin's ceiling is higher than Gentry's, so you have to wonder if this isn't an initial vote of confidence from Washington.
After Holland, the Rangers will throw the following pitchers out there to face the Royals: Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross, Cory Burns and Tanner Scheppers. Aside from Burns, all three of those guys are going to be key to watch. Ogando is trying to make the move back to the rotation, Ross is battling for that fifth rotation spot and Scheppers might be the Rangers' set-up man until Joakim Soria is healthy, and even then he's being expected to play a key role in the Rangers bullpen, probably in leverage situations.
Baseball is here, folks. Enjoy yourselves.