MLB back with opening day


The Kansas City Royals have been absent from the playoffs since the day Billy Butler was born. They’ve barely had a winning season in the last two decades. They’ve often lost 100 games in a year.

And yet, buoyed by the best record in spring training, hope abounds — for the Royals, for most everybody putting on a big league uniform.

“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be better,” said Butler, the Royals’ All-Star slugger. “How much better that is? I’m not a mind reader. I’m not a projector.”

Ah, opening day.

The hot dogs taste better, the box scores mean more, and most every team thinks it’s just a break or two away from reaching the World Series.

A dozen games were set for today across the majors. Star pitchers Justin Verlander, Stephen Strasburg and Adam Wainwright try to get off to great starts, old rivalries are renewed at Yankee Stadium and Dodger Stadium, and a quirky interleague schedule unfolds.

No snow is in the forecast for any ballpark on April Fools’ Day, but freezing temperatures are expected at Target Field in Minnesota when Verlander and the Tigers take on the Twins.

Long the site of baseball’s traditional opener, Cincinnati was going to have a new look today. That’s when Josh Hamilton and his new Los Angeles Angels teammates visit Cincinnati in the first interleague matchup this season.

The Astros’ move to the AL left 15 teams in each league, meaning an AL vs. NL matchup most every day this season.

“It is very strange,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

On both coasts, there was a very familiar look — Red Sox-Yankees and Giants-Dodgers.

Mariano Rivera was set for his final opening day when the banged-up Yankees hosted Boston. The New York closer is among several big names who missed most or even all of last year — Troy Tulowitzki, Victor Martinez and John Lackey are in that group.