MLB heats up with full slate of openers 

click to enlarge Derek Hurlburt
  • Gene J. Puskar/AP
  • Derek Hurlburt, assistant field management supervisor at PNC Park, puts the finishing touches on the Pittsburgh Pirates logo behind home plate.
After a brutal winter of artic blasts and blustery snowstorms, baseball is ready to heat up Monday with its first full slate of games this season.

David Ortiz and the World Series champion Boston Red Sox begin their title defense in Baltimore against home run king Chris Davis and the AL East rival Orioles. Robinson Cano makes his Seattle Mariners debut, looking to live up to a huge contract — just like Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout.

Behind the scenes, umpires at all six replay stations in New York will be at the ready for the first time in baseball history.

“We recognize fully that last year is behind us, and everyone is looking forward to [Monday] and beyond,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

The start of Derek Jeter’s retirement tour will wait one more day. The New York Yankees, with baseball’s oldest roster, will face the youngest on Tuesday night in Houston.

By the time Detroit’s Justin Verlander throws a pitch at 10:08 a.m. in the first of 13 games Monday, the Dodgers will already have played openers on two continents and put $215 million ace Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list.

Still, ballparks around country will be buzzing with optimistic fans and, other than in Oakland, sunny skies and seasonably warm temperatures are expected to provide a wonderful backdrop — what a relief! — for the days’ festivities.

“Should be a pretty good day for a ballgame,” said Richard Bann, a meteorologist at the Weather Prediction Center.

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