As the Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox are among the last group of MLB teams to kick off their season, on what will be Opening Day number four of 2012, here are some key things to watch over the course of their three-game weekend series.
1. Rangers hitting against White Sox pitching
The White Sox starting pitchers will be John Danks, Jake Peavy, and Gavin Floyd. This trio of pitchers has combined to rack up a 4.88 ERA when pitching against the Rangers in their career, and a 5.01 ERA when pitching at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers lineup is not a friendly one to opposing pitchers, and clearly there is a history here of the Chicago pitching suffering from the treacherous lineup of Texas.
Lewis will be the Opening Day starter for the Rangers, with the baggage of his 1.6 HR/9 rate in 2011 in tow. Dunn is coming off of the most disappointing season of his career. After HR totals of 46, 40, 40, 40, 40, 38, and 38 over the prior 7 years, he only managed 11 during 2011, and delivered a paltry OPS of .569. If Adam Dunn is going to rebound in 2012, he may have no better opportunity for a good start than facing Lewis in the very hitter friendly confines of Arlington.
3. Rangers injury concerns
Besides the ever-present concerns of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz sustaining an injury, this will also be the first meaningful game to be played by Mike Napoli after his awful ankle twist in last year’s World Series, or for Mike Adams after he underwent offseason hernia surgery, as well as Mitch Moreland who is coming off of wrist surgery.
4. Robin Ventura’s debut as a MLB manager
The relatively young (44 years old) Ventura will manage his first game at any level to start the 2012 season. As a former player for 16 years, with multiple All-Star appearances and Gold Glove awards, he will not be a stranger to the stage. His perspective may be slightly different from the top step of the dugout, however, as opposed to the hot corner at third base. Thankfully, the Rangers have already determined they will not show replays of Nolan Ryan punishing Ventura with multiple punches in a game in August of 1993.
5. Opening Day in Texas
This will be the home opener for the 2012 Texas season. Look for the usual Texas-sized Opening Day activities, festivities celebrating the Texas Rangers as 2011 American League champions, shots of the renovations to the center field area at the Ballpark, and some crowd shots of people attempting to eat a $26 hot dog.