Andrew McCutchen vs. Adam Wainwright in the first inning, Josh Donaldson and the bangin’ Toronto Blue Jays teeing off later, then a World Series rematch in Kansas City.
Neat way to begin opening day.
The forecast at PNC Park calls for temperatures in the upper 30s on Sunday afternoon when McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates host the first game of the 2016 season, facing the St. Louis Cardinals.
No worries, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. They played an exhibition game in Indianapolis on Saturday with snow flurries, light rain and wind gusts estimated at 40 mph.
“The weather was interesting and challenging,” Hurdle said. “Today may get us ready for tomorrow because I hear we could have conditions like this in Pittsburgh.”
Toronto-Tampa Bay and Mets-Royals are on tap, too, without any climate concerns.
Most everyone else opens Monday. Zack Greinke and David Price pitch for the first time with their new teams while NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs begin their much-heralded quest for a championship, visiting the Los Angeles Angels.
AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez also start that day. So does Max Scherzer, coming off a season in which he pitched two no-hitters for Washington.
The Nationals and new manager Dusty Baker begin at Atlanta. NL MVP Bryce Harper and Washington had the best record in exhibition play at 19-4-4.
“I know it’s spring training, but when you win as much as we did, you kind of start to realize how much you like that and you want to continue to do it,” Nats utilityman Chris Heisey said.
Detroit and Miami will be the last teams in action, starting Tuesday at Marlins Park.
“I think we’re ready,” new Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after an exhibition game Saturday. “I feel like we’ve been ready for a little bit here.”
So long, spring training in the sun. Now the heat is back on.
“It’s a different vibe, a little more laid back, the weather is always warm. But to get the season started where everything really counts and yes, I’m looking forward to that,” McCutchen said.
In Kansas City, it’ll be Matt Harvey of the Mets vs. Edinson Volquez. They were the starters in the final game of 2015 — the Royals rallied at Citi Field in the clinching Game 5.
“It’s impossible to simulate World Series atmospheres, but with them getting their rings and raising the banner and things like that, I think it would give a little bit of motivation,” Mets captain David Wright said.
Fans at Kauffman Stadium will see something new: extra netting extending out from the backstop. After a season in which several fans were hit by foul balls, Major League Baseball recommended more protective nets.
Like the Royals and Pirates, the Blue Jays played an exhibition game Saturday. They took on Boston at Olympic Stadium in Montreal before heading to Florida.
The highest-scoring team in the majors boasts a bruising lineup with Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and open at Tampa Bay against All-Star Chris Archer.
Toronto center fielder Kevin Pillar said the travel schedule was “part of the life.”
“In an ideal situation, this wouldn’t be the way to start opening day,” he said.
“But if you can’t get excited about opening day, regardless of what the travel was like the day before, you’re in the wrong industry because opening day is the most exciting day of the year,” he said.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.