Welcome to Opening Day!

felix1Okay, so the 2009 Major League Baseball season technically got under way last night, but we’re not counting that.  A 4-1 borefest between Atlanta and Philadelphia? Outside of the overzealous fantasy baseball fanatic here and there, few people found much to be excited about with yesterday’s opening contest.  So we’ll just pretend that the Sunday night ESPN money game never happened and move on to the real thing today.

Your Seattle Mariners are in Minnesota this evening to take on the Twins.  First pitch is at 5:10 PM, PDT, and there are plenty of new faces on the M’s 25-man roster.

Nine of the 25 didn’t even play a game with the team last season, and of today’s ten starters, only five were members of the 2008 Opening Day roster (SP Felix Hernandez, C Kenji Johjima, 2B Jose Lopez, SS Yuniesky Betancourt, and 3B Adrian Beltre).  The rest of this evening’s lineup, in its expected batting order, is as follows:

1. Endy Chavez, LF

2. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

3. Mike Sweeney, DH

4. Adrian Beltre, 3B

5. Ken Griffey, Jr., RF

6. Jose Lopez, 2B

7. Russell Branyan, 1B

8. Kenji Johjima, C

9. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

Felix Hernandez, SP

The batting order in and of itself is much different than most fans expected.

Chavez becomes the de facto leadoff hitter in Ichiro’s absence, so no surprise there.

I don’t think anyone anticipated seeing Franklin Gutierrez in the two-hole, which has largely been occupied by Jose Lopez in the last two seasons.

Sweeney at three is a bit of shocker, as well.  I think most of us saw him as a five- or six-hitter.

Beltre at four, no surprise.

Griffey at five may just be a result of having the left-handed Francisco Liriano on the hill for Minnesota.  We might see him hit third or fourth against righties.

Lopez, as previously alluded to, in an unfamiliar spot at six.

Branyan not too surprising, but I think we may have seen him one or two spots higher in the order.  Again, probably a function of having the southpaw on the bump.

Johjima at eight is no big stunner, save for the fact that he’s still on a Major League roster.

And Yuni at nine should consider himself lucky that he has not yet been supplanted by Ronny Cedeno, or relegated to Triple-A.

That’s your Opening Day lineup.  Learn it, love it.  Enjoy the first real day of spring!  Go M’s!

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