Countdown to Opening Day

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Pirates are wrapping up their Thursday workout as I type — many of them donning ski masks and jackets to bear through it. Yes, it is cold. Quite cold. And Friday’s weather (which includes a forecast of rain and/or snow) is not looking any better.

That said, it’s hard not to be excited about another baseball season. And you should know that these players are more than ready to start playing games that count — no matter what the thermometer might read outside.

Manager Clint Hurdle has already posted his Opening Day lineup, and Cubs skipper Mike Quade has as well. Here are those:

PIRATES: Jose Tabata (LF), Neil Walker (2B), Andrew McCutchen (CF), Lyle Overbay (1B), Pedro Alvarez (3B), Ryan Doumit (C), Garrett Jones (RF), Ronny Cedeno (SS), Kevin Correia (RHP)

CUBS: Kosuke Fukudome (RF), Starlin Castro (SS), Marlon Byrd (CF), Aramis Ramirez (3B), Carlos Pena (1B), Geovany Soto (C), Alfonso Soriano (LF), Darwin Barney (2B), Ryan Dempster (RHP)

***

Caught up with Correia briefly this afternoon to get his thoughts on tomorrow’s start, and I’ll share those with you here:

On how he feels the day before his first Opening Day start: “I just threw. My arm feels good and I’m ready to go.”

On whether the cold weather might be a factor: “It’s not that big of a deal really. Once you get going, you always end up warm eventually.’

On important of team starting off strong: “It is nice to get off to a good start. It just kind of gets your confidence rolling going into the year. If you start off losing games, it’s just not conducive to getting on a good streak. When you’re in a position like we are, any time we can win a series, it’s going to be important – especially against division rivals.”

On where this ranks among his career starts: “It’s a pretty important game just because it’s Opening Day. But when you get later in the season, you get games that mean a lot more. It’s not an extremely important game like you may pitch later in the year, but the whole hoopla with the start of the baseball season, it’s one of the most exciting games I’ll pitch in my career.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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