03/28/08 10:00 AM ET
Health key to Rangers' improvement
Injuries ravaged roster en route to last-place finish in 2007
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Designated hitter Frank Catalanotto and catcher Gerald Laird fill out the lineup card. Both had substandard offensive seasons in 2007. Many of their teammates did so as well, mainly because of physical problems. Still, there is talent here."I think we're going to surprise some people even though nobody is going to give us a chance," Catalanotto said. "From what I've seen in Spring Training, we're going to score a lot of runs, and I think there's going to be some surprises in the pitching staff. Our defense is going to be better than last year. We like being the team that nobody talks about." There hasn't been much reason to talk about the Rangers of late. This is a franchise that has finished in last place seven of the last eight seasons since their last division title, and there are few if any who think this team can finish higher than a distant third place. "I don't care what anybody else is thinking," Young said. "I like the fact that there are guys here who will have big years that nobody is expecting. Nobody is expecting Kinsler to be a star or that Josh will have a big year or Milton will have the kind of season he's capable of having. "People can think what they want. I think we're going to sneak up on some people." Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Kevin Millwood (10-14, 5.16 ERA in 2007)
Millwood is making his third straight Opening Day start for the Rangers. He was the losing pitcher the last two times, going just five innings in both. He was 2-3 with a 5.21 ERA in six starts against the Mariners last year and 7-6 with a 4.23 ERA in 15 career games against them. Ichiro Suzuki is 21-for-48 against the righty.
SEA: LHP Erik Bedard (13-5, 3.16 ERA)
Bedard was acquired in a six-player deal with the Orioles in the offseason. He was 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts against the Rangers last year and 4-1 with a 2.50 ERA in six starts against them in his career. In 39 2/3 innings against Texas, he has struck out 45 while allowing just 35 hits. Bedard allowed 6.97 hits per nine innings last year, the lowest in the American League, while his 10.93 strikeouts per nine innings were the highest.
Ichiro has a career batting average of .341 against the Rangers, the second highest of any opponent with at least 500 at-bats against them. He is 10th all-time with 109 runs scored against Texas in 134 games.
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Tuesday: Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 6-10, 5.76) at Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 14-7, 3.92), 9:10 p.m. CT
Wednesday: Rangers (Jason Jennings, 2-9, 6.45) at Mariners (Carlos Silva, 13-14, 4.19), 9:10 p.m. CT
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.