Texas Rangers gear up for an unforgettable Opening Day in Arlington


ARLINGTON – This will be an Opening Day like never before in Arlington, Texas. The Texas Rangers will unfurl a World Championship banner just before the 6:30 p.m. first pitch against the Chicago Cubs.

The Rangers will then set out to defend their world title. It’s a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in Major League Baseball in 24 years, since the New York Yankees won three World Series in a row from 1998-2000.

On paper, it appears the Rangers have the makings of another true championship contender. They return 4-time World Series Champion Manager Bruce Bochy and an everyday lineup that may be more potent than even last year’s unit, which was the most prolific in the American League, averaging 5.44 runs per game.

All-Stars Corey Seager, Adolis Garcia, Marcus Semien, Jonah Heim, and Josh Jung weren’t even the most talked about players at Spring Training in Surprise, Arizona. Instead, the rave reviews have been reserved for rookies Evan Carter and Wyatt Langford.

Teammates gave the 21-year-old Carter the nickname “Little Savior” last fall when he ignited the Rangers offense after being called up to the big leagues in September. Carter set a postseason record with 9 doubles.

However, when it comes to Spring Training hyperbole, even Carter has taken a back seat to the 22-year-old Langford. The fourth overall pick in last summer’s draft out of the University of Florida, Langford led the majors with 20 runs batted in this spring, slugging six home runs and batting .365.

The Rangers do have question marks as they enter the season. First Baseman Nathaniel Lowe is on the injured list, nursing an oblique injury. Veteran newcomer Jared Walsh and Ezequiel Duran will split time in place of Lowe. Meanwhile, shortstop Seager and third baseman Jung each played only three exhibition games as they returned from ailments.

Staff ace Nathan Eovaldi has looked sharp all spring and will get the start against the Cubs in the opener. The rest of the rotation features veterans Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, and Dane Dunning. Young Cody Bradford rounds out the rotation, at least until newly-signed Michael Lorenzen builds up his arm strength.

The bullpen has undergone some changes with the addition of veterans David Robertson and Kirby Yates to supplement the return of closer Jose LeClerc and Josh Sborz, who recorded the final out of the World Series.

There will be potential big-name additions to the pitching staff this summer if all goes well with the rehabs of Max Scherzer, Tyler Mahle, and Jacob deGrom. However, before that happens, there’s a lot of work to be done and games to be won – starting tonight, on the biggest Opening Night in the history of the World Champion Texas Rangers.