Baseball Opening Day 2013: New faces in new places

Baseball Opening Day 2013: After an opening night game, Major League Baseball opens the 2013 season with 12 games Monday across the country.

Curtis Compton, Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP
The field is painted for opening day as Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, left, throws batting practice at Turner Field on Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Atlanta. The Braves play their season opener against the Phillies on Monday.

For over 135 years, Opening Day in Major League Baseball has signified the end of winter and reignited hopes for baseball fans across the United States that this year could be the year for their favorite team.

Over the past 10+ years, Major League Baseball has chosen to start the season with a game the night before Opening Day and 2013 was no exception. The Texas Rangers lost to the Astros Sunday night as Houston begins its first season in the American League after 50 years in the National League.

As fans prepare for the new season, there are some familiar faces with new teams. Josh Hamilton finished his contract with the Texas Rangers and signed a multimillion dollar deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. There, he'll be paired with slugging first baseman Albert Pujols to create a powerful pair in the middle of the batting order. In one major change this year, the Angels will open the season today with an interleague game against the Cincinnati Reds of the National League. A sneak preview of the next World Series?

Two-time World Series-winning manager Terry Francona, formerly with the Boston Red Sox, now takes over the Cleveland Indians after a season in the ESPN broadcast booth.

The San Francisco Giants open the defense of their 2012 World Series championship Monday by playing their longtime rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who will have big money acquisitions Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez, plus free agent pitcher Zack Greinke for an entire season.

In the American League, many experts are picking the Toronto Blue Jays to win the East Division and possibly go to the World Series. The Blue Jays acquired NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. They also traded for shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, plus two other players from the Miami Marlins.

One of the first baseball games of the day will feature two more longtime rivals, the Red Sox in New York to face the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. Eastern time. The Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers in last year's American League Championship Series. But veteran left-handed pitcher Andy Pettitte says the Yanks will overcome age and injury and reach the postseason this fall.

"I don't let my mind go in that direction because I think we're going to win our division and I expect us to be in the World Series. Bottom line," Pettitte told ESPNNewYork.com.

Play ball!

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