You've waited and waited, and now finally it's here. Welcome to the 2011 baseball season. Welcome to Opening Day.
Thursday brings us five afternoon games. The Braves take on the Nationals at 1:05pm ET, the Tigers and Yankees get going soon after, then it's Brewers vs. Reds, Angels vs. Royals and Padres vs. Cardinals bringing up the rear with a trio of 4:00pm ET start times. The Giants and Dodgers will cap it all off with a 8:05pm ET tilt.
If this is your first time at Rotoworld or you mostly just stick to player news and don't often read the columns, this here is the Daily Dose. It will be published before 8am ET every weekday from now until the end of the season and will contain a range of different fantasy-related notes on teams and players. You might find it useful to skim every morning. Or every other morning. Whatever suits your fantasy team's needs.
Rotoworld's baseball columns don't end at the Dose, of course. Matt Stroup will be examining players who are trending up and trending down every Monday. On Tuesday, I'll bring you a live chat. On Wednesday, you'll get a lengthy look at the status of baseball's closers and base-stealers from Eno Sarris. Thursday calls for D.J. Short's weekly look at potentially valuable players on the waiver wire, on Friday comes a feature from Nick Nelson that breaks down two-start pitchers and more for the upcoming week, then Glenn Colton caps it all off with the "Week That Was" on Saturdays.
Another great season is in the works. On to the good stuff...
* This is old news by now, but still highly impactful for fantasy owners seeking saves in the month of April: Phillies closer Brad Lidge
has been shut down for the next month -- maybe two -- due to a partially torn rotator cuff in the shoulder of his throwing arm. The Phillies haven't completely committed to veteran right-hander Jose Contreras
as Lidge's replacement, but we don't think they'll turn back to Ryan Madson
after his struggles in the ninth inning last year. Contreras can still deal. He struck out a batter per inning in 2010 and posted a 1.74 ERA over 10 appearances this spring. Grab the well-traveled Contreras if he's still available.
* Lidge isn't the only closer battling an unfortunate late-spring injury. Oakland's Andrew Bailey
was placed on the 15-day disabled list as final cuts were being made in A's camp Wednesday and is expected to miss the first week or two of the regular season. Bailey has finished with ERAs under 2.00 in each of his two major league campaigns and belongs near the top rung of fantasy closers this season even with the missed time. But now is a good time to snag Brian Fuentes
and ride him for some early save chances.
* The Giants delivered a bit of exciting and somewhat unexpected news on Wednesday evening, announcing that top prospect Brandon Belt
is going to open the 2011 season as the club's starting first baseman. Belt crushed 23 home runs, managed a 1.075 OPS and tallied 112 RBI across 136 minor league games in 2010 -- his first year of professional baseball. The 22-year-old is still raw and probably a bit too lanky at the moment, but he carries an intriguing bat and may be worth stashing in deeper mixed leagues. The decision pushed Aubrey Huff
to right field.
* The Brewers might have been wrong about Zack Greinke
's original recovery timetable. The right-hander, still recovering from a basketball-induced rib fracture, is scheduled to throw off a mound for the first time this weekend. Meanwhile, other top starters on other teams are gearing up to take the bump for real. Greinke will need at least 10 days of bullpen sessions before the Milwaukee training staff allows him to begin appearing in minor league rehab games. In other words, an April return is out of the question for the Brewers' biggest offseason acquisition.National League Quick Hits:
Giants closer Brian Wilson
will open the season on the disabled list due to a strained oblique … Jose Tabata
suffered a mild ankle injury during the Pirates' final spring game but is expected to be fine … The Reds are going to be without Johnny Cueto
for the first couple weeks of the season due to a lingering triceps injury … Johan Santana
is playing catch from 75 feet … Cody Ross
will begin hitting again soon and is aiming to return from his oblique strain by mid-April … Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart
will test his hamstring Thursday afternoon in an intrasquad game … Andrew Cashner
is going to open the year in the Cubs' starting rotation … All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier
has expressed a desire to remain with the Dodgers long term … Astros lefty J.A. Happ
threw long toss Wednesday and is still aiming to make his debut Sunday start … Stephen Drew
might miss Opening Day because of an abdominal strain … The Giants have designated Travis Ishikawa
for assignment … J.R. Towles
is no longer fighting back spasms and is ready to open as Houston's backup catcher … The Phillies have already given up on the now unemployed Luis Castillo
.American League Quick Hits:
Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson
is almost fully recovered from his oblique strain and has been cleared for Opening Day … The Tigers placed Carlos Guillen
on the disabled list Wednesday and aren't expecting him to return quickly … Casey Kotchman
is staying with the Rays and reporting to Triple-A Durham … The Yankees have committed to Gustavo Molina
as their season-opening backup catcher … Jake Peavy
already has minor league rehab starts scheduled for April 8 and April 13 … Despite a shaky spring, Chris Tillman
has been named the Orioles' No. 3 starter … Brett Gardner
will lead off against righties this season … The Orioles aren't naming a closer, but Kevin Gregg
is the best bet … Grady Sizemore
hit the disabled list Wednesday and may need another few weeks to work on his leg strength … Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez
is on new antibiotics for his stomach issues and is beginning to feel better … Jack Hannahan
has been named the Indians' starting third baseman … Luis Ayala
made the Yankees' bullpen.