I noticed over the weekend that Washington manager Davey Johnson already announced that Stephen Strasburg will start their Grapefruit League opener on Saturday. The Baltimore Orioles open Grapefruit League play Saturday as well, against the Minnesota Twins in Sarasota. Let’s preface this by saying that the guy who starts the firs exhibition game means nothing. Ultimately someone has to get the ball; it’s also worth mentioning that whomever starts will probably on see two or three innings in the game. Managers tend to actually publish an unofficial schedule of who’s going to appear and when in spring training, especially at the beginning. However, the question’s still worth asking…who’s the first guy out on Saturday?
The fact is that there’s no shortage of candidates. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’ll be someone who at the very least was on the roster during the playoffs last season. For the record, last season Buck Showalter tabbed Brian Matusz to start the Grapefruit League opener. That meant nothing at the time short of having to throw someone out there in that game, however it’s also worth mentioning that the game was televised by MASN. This year MASN isn’t televising their first game until Monday afternoon against New York, so perhaps we should be talking more about who Showalter wants to feature in that game. However I’m getting off task; who starts Saturday?
Until it’s announced we have no way of knowing. However for the sake of picking someone, I’m going to throw Miguel Gonzalez‘s name out there. Again, whomever gets the ball will only be in the game for 2-3 innings, however I suppose that who gets the first start does have a small bit of importance. And again if you’re asking, I think there’s a good chance that we see Chris Tillman starting Monday afternoon for the home folks to see on MASN. Just a hunch.