Braves Andre Johnson Jersey hopeful Venters returns by end of May

After a visit to Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday, it appears Jonny Venters is not likely to rejoin the Braves’ bullpen until the end of May, at the earliest. But there is still some uncertainty about what is causing the discomfort in his left elbow.

 Andre Johnson Jersey injected Venters with a platelet-rich plasma and prescribed four weeks of rest. The Braves are hopeful that the left-handed reliever will be healthy enough to begin a throwing program after resting his arm over the course of the next month.

Houston Texans Andre Johnson Jersey.The uncertainty surrounding Venters’ condition is a product of the fact that MRI exams often produce inconclusive results for individuals who have already undergone Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. Andrews performed this surgical procedure on Venters in 2005.

“It’s somewhat what we were expecting,” general manager Frank Wren said. “But we wanted to make sure the surgeon who performed the surgery had a chance to look at him.”

When Venters exited a Grapefruit League appearance against the Tigers last week, the early indications were that his elbow was structurally sound. There has been some thought that he is dealing with a bone chip or bone spur. But because an MRI exam was not performed, a precise diagnosis has not been provided.

While the Braves are saying it is too early to provide a timetable for Venters’ return, there is certainly reason to believe he will need to spend most or all of May rebuilding his arm strength and preparing to pitch at the big league level again.

With Venters sidelined, Atlanta will provide more prominent roles to right-handed reliever Jordan Walden, who notched 32 saves for the Angels in 2011, and left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, who has impressed since making his Major League debut in July.

Like Venters Andre Johnson Jersey  , Avilan has displayed a plus fastball with impressive sinking action. The Venezuelan southpaw helped the Braves claim Monday’s Opening Day win over the Phillies after entering in the fifth with two runners on and one out. Avilan retired the only two left-handed hitters he faced to preserve a one-run lead in the fifth inning, and then showed his versatility while retiring two right-handers in a scoreless sixth inning.

Venters has made 230 appearances since he made his Major League debut on April 17, 2010. The only pitcher with more appearances over the past three seasons is Cincinnati’s Sean Marshall (231).Andre Johnson Jersey for Sale.

The heavy workload appeared to take a toll as Venters compiled a 4.45 ERA and surrendered six home runs in his first 40 appearances last year. In the 164 appearances Venters made during the 2010 and ’11 seasons, he posted a 1.59 ERA, surrendered three home runs and held opponents to a .300 on-base percentage.

Venters was placed on the disabled list just before last year’s All-Star break with a left elbow impingement. After resting for two weeks, he compiled a 1.71 ERA, did not allow a home run and limited opponents to a .292 on-base percentage in his final 26 appearances.

After coming to Spring Training feeling refreshed, Venters started to feel some elbow discomfort during the early portion of the Grapefruit League season. The Braves shut him down for 10 days after he issued four walks in one inning against the Cardinals on March 13.

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Venters completed one inning in a Minor League game on March 23 in pain-free fashion. But he was forced to exit his March 27 appearance against the Tigers.

Jones Andre Johnson Jersey keys Orioles’ decisive rally at The Trop

The Orioles said throughout Spring Training they weren’t concerned with outside expectations, projections or what national pundits thought of their incredible 2012 season. There was no need for manager Buck Showalter’s crew to come out and make public statements or quote those who chalked up last year as a fluke for motivational fodder. In fact, there was no need for talking at all.

Instead, the Andre Johnson Jersey Orioles — proudly wearing T-shirts reading “To be continued” all Spring Training — went out and proved it on Tuesday, rallying for a five-run seventh inning and using some solid pitching to make a strong season-opening statement with a 7-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Opening Day victory, in front of an announced sellout crowd of 34,078 at Tropicana Field, gave the Orioles their 10th win in the last 13 season openers.

“We know what’s going on in the clubhouse,” said Orioles starter Jason Hammel, who fired six strong innings to pick up the win. “For all the things that happened outside the clubhouse, we come out; we barely changed the team this year. Same lineup, except for a couple of guys.

“It’s something we’re proud of. We’re going to continue to play hard. It was [No.] 1 of 162. We’ll come back tomorrow and continue to do it. We’re just having fun, and really, we have our own expectations.”

While much was made this winter about the Orioles’ decision not to acquire a true middle-of-the-order bat, the trio of Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Chris Davis — a group the organization hoped would continue to get better — looked plenty potent, combining to go 6-for-12 with three doubles, two homers and all seven RBIs.

“We feel that in-house, we have the same ability to do what we did last year,” said Davis, whose three-run homer capped a barrage of two-out runs off Rays reliever Jake McGee. “We have the same group of guys. We have the experience that we didn’t have last year. We’re very confident with the group that we have, not to mention the fact that we have good chemistry here. That goes a long way in this game.”

Using the pass-the-baton approach that Showalter endorses, Davis watched from the on-deck circle as Rays manager Joe Maddon issued an intentional walk to Wieters, who had already doubled and hit a two-run homer off Tampa Bay ace David Price.

“You never want to be the guy [behind] the guy getting walks,” said Jones, who got the seventh-inning scoring started by sending an 0-2 pitch into left-center-field field for a go-ahead two-run double. “It’s like saying, ‘All right; we think you’re an easier out than this guy.’ So you take it upon yourself to go out and get a big knock. And [Davis] went out there, first pitch, and tomahawked a 98-mph fastball at his neck. That’s C.D.”Andre Johnson Jersey for Sale.

The gutsy effort started with Hammel, who was making his first Opening Day start and held his own against Price, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. Working with a two-run lead from the moment he stepped on the mound, thanks to Wieters’ homer, Hammel battled all afternoon and allowed three runs on three hits and a walk.

“He wasn’t really locating like I’ve seen him in the past,” Wieters said of Hammel when told the right-hander said he felt like he ‘did nothing’ in the win. “It just shows what kind of competitor he is. He knew he didn’t have his best stuff today, but he went out and gave us a chance to win, which is all you can ask of the starting pitching.”

Hammel and Price both exited after six innings, with the Andre Johnson Jersey Orioles tagging Price for two runs but missing a chance to capitalize despite accumulating seven baserunners after Wieters’ homer. The O’s were able to run up the left-hander’s pitch count — Wieters worked a 13-pitch walk in the third — and chase Price after 100 pitches to set the stage for McGee.

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The Orioles’ bullpen, an impressive group largely intact from last season, made the lead built against McGee hold up. Lefty Troy Patton recorded an out in the seventh before Showalter played matchups and countered pinch-hitter Shelley Duncan with right-hander Darren O’Day. O’Day surrendered an earned run on a groundout in the eighth and went 1 2/3 innings before handing the ball to closer Jim Johnson, who earned the save.

Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold, who both missed significant time last year with injuries, had two hits apiece, and the organization remains hopeful that high-profile offseason acquisitions weren’t necessary due to the talent of those already wearing orange and black.

“Obviously, they could have easily gone out and tried to fill spots that haven’t been necessarily occupied every day in the last year or two,” said Roberts, who hasn’t played a full season since 2009. “They held tight and they believed in us as players, and I think that is encouraging as well as gives you a lot of confidence to go out there and play.”

Houston Texans Andre Johnson Jersey.“It’s something we looked at,” Showalter said of adding a middle-of-the-order bat this winter, “but you look at the number of guys who missed time last year. If we can just keep our people on the field, we feel like we can be competitive. But we have a lot of bridges to cross. Today starts a long journey together, and I’m as curious as everybody else to see where it takes us.”

Tigers: Leyland hopes team capitalizes on off-day.Arian Foster Jersey

Not that Leyland wants his club to start looking ahead to Friday’s home opener, against the Yankees, but he does hope his team uses Tuesday’s off-day to take care of some odds and ends regarding the weekend series.

With the team not allowed to hold a workout anyway, Leyland Arian Foster Jersey is hoping his club makes the most of the early rest following its season-opening victory.

“I think it’s a good day if you use common sense,” he said. “It’s a good day to kind of relax. It’s a good day to maybe get some things touched up before the home opener, make sure you have your ticket requests and your family’s there and reservations and all that stuff. I think it’s a good day to kind of clean up on that stuff so you have a little less to do.”

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Morneau would love to return to the 30-homer, 100-RBI form that earned him AL MVP honors in 2006 and four consecutive All-Star appearances from 2007 to 2010.

Now in his 11th season with the Twins, the 31-year-old would gladly settle for just being healthy and contributing to a postseason run.

“The only thing that matters to me is being in the race in September,” he said. “If I’m healthy, I think I can help us have a lot better chance of making the playoffs or being in that playoff run, battling for those spots, either the division or those Wild Card spots, whatever they are. Anything’s possible. I’m still young enough.”

In 2012, his first mostly healthy season in three years, Morneau hit .267 with 19 homers and 77 RBIs in 134 games. He had played just 150 games in the previous two seasons combined.Arian Foster Youth Jersey.

“I think I proved to myself last year that when I’m healthy, I feel can contribute,” he said. “And whatever that means, I’m not sure, but hopefully it’s somewhere around where I’m playing 150, 160 games and driving in runs and helping us score runs and helping us win ballgames.”

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• Correia has pitched well against Prince Fielder, limiting the Tigers slugger to a .200 lifetime average. The lefty hasn’t had as much success against the other top Tigers slugger, as Cabrera is hitting .474 with two doubles and a homer against him.

• The Tigers Arian Foster Jersey  are 25-12 against the Twins since the start of the 2011 season, including 15-4 in Minnesota.

Fanfare in the past, Tigers Arian Foster Jersey and Twins continue set

Whereas fans and players typically spend the offseason looking forward to Opening Day, Tigers Arian Foster Jersey manager Jim Leyland spends the winter months eagerly anticipating his team’s second game of the year.

And with all the fanfare surrounding Detroit’s season-opening 4-2 victory now in the past, the game Leyland has waited for — Wednesday’s 4:10 p.m. ET contest against the Twins — is finally on deck.

“I will say this: I’m always glad when Opening Day is over, because you never really get into sync until after Opening Day,” Leyland said. “There’s so much hype going on, and there’s so much stuff going on. Once you get past that, you get more into your routine on a consistent basis.”

This year the routine will start with Anibal Sanchez taking the mound to square off against Twins newcomer Kevin Correia.Arian Foster Black Jersey.

Sanchez ended up in the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind ace Justin Verlander despite a rocky end to his Spring Training. The right-hander tossed five scoreless innings in February before departing for the World Baseball Classic, but struggled after returning from his time with Team Venezuela.

Arian Foster Youth Jersey.In his first start back with the Tigers, Sanchez allowed four runs over six innings and was then tagged for nine runs on 11 hits in just five innings in his final spring outing, last Thursday.

While Sanchez will be looking to regain his form on Wednesday, Correia will be looking to prove himself with the Twins after spending his first 10 big league seasons in the National League. The righty signed with the Twins this offseason after spending the last two seasons in Pittsburgh, where he went 12-11 each year, with a 4.79 ERA in 2011 and a 4.21 mark last season.

The Twins Arian Foster Jersey  are hoping that Correia’s consistency — double-digit wins and 26-plus starts in each of the last four seasons — will help provide some stability to their revamped rotation.

“Our starters are going to have to eat up innings and get us deeper into the games,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We have to protect our bullpen. You can’t end up using them four or five innings a game. So our starters definitely have to get us deeper into the games, and we have to stay healthy.”

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Though easier said than done, the health aspect will certainly be a focal point for a Twins team that was ravaged by injuries a season ago en route to a 66-96 record and last-place finish in the American League Central.

“I think from the first day of Spring Training, our focus has been about moving forward, not looking backward,” said veteran first baseman Justin Morneau. “No matter how much success we’ve had or struggles in the last couple of seasons, it doesn’t matter once we get out there. It’s something fresh.”

Leyland happy to put Opening Day behind him.Arian Foster Jersey

Alex Avila Arian Foster Jersey went to Spring Training worrying whether he might have to fly home on Opening Day to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. That wasn’t a concern on Monday. It might be a worry next week.

Avila’s wife, Kristina, is at home in Detroit preparing for her final doctor’s appointment before she’s due.

“I’ll be waiting for a call this weekend,” Avila said.

The Tigers are at home from Friday until next Thursday, when they have a getaway matinee against the Blue Jays before flying to Oakland. As much of a concern as Opening Day was, a short flight from Minneapolis to Detroit would be easy. Getting back from the West Coast in time would be a little tougher.

It’s already on his mind.Arian Foster Youth Jersey.

Expect the Tigers to take it easy on Tuesday’s off-day. By rule, the team can’t call for a workout anyway, but manager Jim Leyland expects it to be a easy day.

“I think it’s a good day if you use common sense,” Leyland said. “It’s a good day to kind of relax. It’s a good day to maybe get some things touched up before the home opener, make sure you have your ticket requests and your family’s there and reservations and all that stuff. I think it’s a good day to kind of clean up on that stuff so you have a little less to do.”

Arian Foster Black Jersey.Leyland, whose wife and daughter are in Italy this week, has a pretty relaxing day planned.

“Personally, I’m going to go buy a sweater tomorrow,” he said. “I packed one, but I wore it a couple of times already. Tomorrow will be a little boring, but you make the best of it.”

• The Tigers opened the season with a payroll of $148,414,500, according to figures listed by USA Today. That total does not include the $377,049 paid to Brennan Boesch upon his release in mid-March. Add that in, and the payroll checks in at just under $148.8 million, just outside the top five in baseball. The Angels are fifth, at about $148.9 million, when including the share of the recently traded Vernon Wells.

• Avisail Garcia Arian Foster Jersey is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a bruised right heel, according to Leyland. Garcia remained in Florida and could play in some extended spring training games shortly before reporting to Triple-A Toledo.

“I think he’s on a faster pace than we thought,” Leyland said.Houston Texans Arian Foster Jersey.

• Torii Hunter received a rousing ovation from the crowd at Target Field during pregame introductions and again as he stepped to the plate for his first at-bat as a Tiger. Hunter, who spent his first 11 seasons as a Twin before leaving as a free agent for the Angels after the 2007 season, was a fan favorite during Minnesota’s run of division titles.

Tigers Arian Foster Jersey cbrave the elements in chilly Minneapolis

The good news for the Tigers Arian Foster Jersey as they dealt with the cold weather in the Twin Cities on Monday was that the visiting dugout at Target Field features heated benches. For those on the bench, or for hitters waiting their turn in the top half of the inning, it was nice and toasty.

Other than that, well, it was still cold.

“I know [Opening Day starter Justin] Verlander was talking yesterday how he likes to pitch in short sleeves,” manager Jim Leyland said on Monday. “He was debating yesterday whether to wear long sleeves or not. I’m going to have long sleeves on myself.”

With game-time temperature at 34 degrees, Verlander did end up wearing long sleeves. So did the vast majority of Tigers players, some of whom also sported cold-weather headgear. The notable exception was designated hitter Victor Martinez, who wore short sleeves. Of course, he could go into the clubhouse between at-bats.

“I was sitting in short sleeves until about 10 minutes before the game, and I asked a couple guys after they came in from BP,” Verlander said. “Once I went out and warmed up, though, when I was warming up in the sun, I was like, “You know, I could’ve come out in short sleeves. This isn’t that bad.’ As soon as the shade came in, it was a totally different ballgame. It was miserable.”

It was a potentially tougher situation for relievers in the bullpen, where there isn’t a dugout. The bullpen location in left-center means there was at least some sunshine through the early innings, but the pitchers were still out in the elements.

“We’re going to have to pull the sun a little farther down,” Joaquin Benoit said.

While first-base coach Rafael Belliard had his head covered, third-base coach Tom Brookens wasn’t sweating it, having learned a long time ago just to dress in layers.

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“It’s like hunting weather,” Brookens said.

Reliever Phil Coke was only hunting for his hotel room. “I was very cold out there. Everybody who threw or played in the game is probably going to pass out when they go back to the hotel,” said Coke. Asked how he kept warm in the bullpen, Coke replied, “”Happy thoughts. Warm, happy thoughts.”

The Tigers had just three players experiencing their first Opening Day in the big leagues on Monday. Technically, however, Drew Smyly was only left off last year’s Opening Day roster because the Tigers didn’t need a fifth starter at the outset. Al Alburquerque, meanwhile, had little reason to doubt he’d make it.

For Darin Downs, though, Monday’s opener was special. As good as his story was last summer — he came back from a life-threatening head injury a few years ago to become the second lefty in Detroit’s bullpen — making the Opening Day roster was arguably sweeter.

“It’s Opening Day, and that’s special,” Downs said.Arian Foster Black Jersey.

It’s a spot he very much won. On a staff that seemed poised to go heavily toward right-handers other than Phil Coke, with Alburquerque and Brayan Villarreal effective against lefties, the 28-year-old Downs showed his value with 14 innings of one-run ball and 16 strikeouts.

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Arian Foster Jersey .He didn’t get caught up in the notion he had to outpitch anybody. He just tried to pitch as well as he could and let team officials judge him on that.

“I was just trying to keep it real simple this spring, pitchwise, just making adjustments and working on stuff,” he said. “Obviously, I had to get outs. I couldn’t go out there and just feel it out the whole month. I just tried to keep it simple, not worry about anything and take it as it comes.”

Leyland Arian Foster Jersey happy to put Opening Day behind him

For many fans and players alike, Opening Day is a holiday, a destination day. For manager Jim Leyland, who has now been through 23 Opening Days as a Major League manager and four others as a big league coach, it’s more of a starting line.

“I will say this: I’m always glad when Opening Day is over,” Leyland Arian Foster Jersey admitted, “because you never really get into sync until after Opening Day. There’s so much hype going on, and there’s so much stuff going on. Once you get past that, you get more into your routine on a consistent basis.”

Leyland thrives on the day-in, day-out routine, and he looks forward to settling into that each year. Opening Day is anything but routine, but it means that the routine is just around the corner. He talked with his team before it worked out Sunday but had no special speech planned for Monday.

“I didn’t have too much to say,” he said. “It’s the start of 162 games. They know what they’re doing. We’ve been doing this a while. You wish them well and enjoy it, put your best foot forward.”

Leyland Arian Foster Jersey has a consistent answer whenever he’s asked about the importance of a good start: If they get off to a bad start, it’s not like they cancel the rest of the season. He has said it often enough that he isn’t asked about it much anymore.

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The roller-coaster ride of the last couple of years backs him up. The Tigers had a rough April in 2011 and took over the division around Labor Day. They won their first four games and nine out of the first 12 last season, fell out of the division lead by the end of April and didn’t take command until mid-September.

Each year, the expectations going into the season have been bigger.Arian Foster Black Jersey.

“This is a long, long grind,” Leyland said. “You just have to make sure that you don’t go off the deep end either way, too high or too low. Just stay right after the same thing you always do, come here each day ready to perform and let the chips fall where they may.”

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Verlander Arian Foster Jersey gets long-awaited Opening Day victory

Justin Verlander Arian Foster Jersey couldn’t help but laugh. He’s not used to doing that on Opening Day.

He’s not used to a game like this on most days, though.

“Interesting way to get my first Opening Day win, that’s for sure,” Verlander said with a smile after the Tigers’ 4-2 win over the Twins on Monday at frigid Target Field.

Of all the games in which the Tigers were going to unleash the bullpen-by-committee, this seemed like the least likely. Verlander is usually his own bullpen committee, if not his own closer on some days.

Remember, he pitched eight scoreless innings on a beautiful afternoon at Comerica Park to open the 2012 season and ended up with his third straight no-decision after then-closer Jose Valverde blew the save.

Verlander Arian Foster Jersey seemed well on his way to a similar gem on Monday thanks to the way he was changing speeds and dropping curveballs on an aggressive Twins lineup. But with 91 pitches through five innings on a day when the temperatures were in the low 30s, he wasn’t going to get stretched past 100 pitches.

“He wanted to stay in, obviously, but that’s what I get paid for,” manager Jim Leyland said. “And he knows in his heart that’s the right thing to do early in the season. I wasn’t going to take any chances.”

As Al Alburquerque was staring down Chris Parmelee with a full count and the bases loaded in the seventh, with the tying run on third base, Verlander seemed poised for the same fate as last year, watching a lead slip away. Alburquerque had other thoughts.

“I was confident,” Alburquerque said. “I’m saying, ‘I know I can strike out that guy,’ because after the second hitter, my slider, I see good spin, and I said, ‘I got it. I go.'”Houston Texans Arian Foster Jersey.

Alburquerque was confident enough that he was willing to throw a slider out of the strike zone on a full count, knowing he’d be walking in a run if Parmelee didn’t swing.

“I know he’s going to swing,” he said. “I threw a couple [of sliders] for a strike, and he said, ‘Oh, he throws it for a strike.’ If I throw one for a ball, I know he’s going to swing, because it looks the same.”

Alburquerque did not lack for confidence, nor did Joaquin Benoit after him in a four-out hold, nor Phil Coke after that for the final two outs and the first save of the year. Arian Foster Black Jersey.On a day when it looked full well as though Verlander would grab the spotlight and not let go, he watched from the clubhouse while the bullpen-by-committee took over.

“There’s no question in my mind,” Leyland said, “that was the best move to make for the Tigers organization, for Justin Verlander, for the team. First of the game of the season, to me, was a no-brainer.”

Verlander understood, because of the conditions.

“I argued a little bit, tried to get back in there,” he said, “but I understand.”

Leyland replaced Verlander for the sixth inning hoping that Drew Smyly would be the bridge to the ninth with a three-run lead. Leyland stuck with Smyly after he escaped his first bases-loaded jam with a lone run allowed in the sixth on a wild pitch. The escape really came from Prince Fielder, who scooped Jhonny Peralta’s throw out of the dirt at first base for the out.

“Probably the play of the game,” Leyland said of the defensive play of Fielder, who doubled in a run with an opposite-field grounder just inside third base in the opening inning before scoring an insurance run on a wild pitch in the eighth.

Once Smyly loaded the bases again in the seventh, this time on back-to-back singles and a one-out walk, Leyland had to make other arrangements. He had to break out the committee sooner than he hoped.

“We did just what we told everybody we were going to be doing,” Leyland said. “We mixed and matched. Alburquerque got the big strikeout. He hung the slider to [Ryan] Doumit [for an RBI single], but he got the big strikeout then. That’s why we went with him, because we feel he’s got the big strikeout pitch.”

Alburquerque actually got back-to-back strikeouts to strand the tying run on third in a 3-2 game. He fired back-to-back fastballs past Trevor Plouffe after he swung and missed at a slider, and it gave him the confidence to go from there.

“I tried to get my confidence, and today I got it after the second hitter,” Alburquerque said. “I said, ‘I can get it. It’s my job. I need to pitch good in my role.'”

Said Plouffe: “He pitched me different than he had before, so he won that battle.”

Benoit worked more than three outs in just three regular-season appearances in 2011, and seven times last year. Once Andy Dirks’ running catch down the left-field line on Joe Mauer stranded Aaron Hicks on first, Leyland had a decision to make for the ninth with the right-handed-hitting Josh Willingham due up.

Fielder’s rolling slide into the plate on Josh Roenicke’s wild pitch provided the insurance tally for Benoit to start off the ninth. One pitch and one Willingham popup later, Coke dashed in from the bullpen to finish the job.

“It’s special to be asked to do it,” Coke said. “And yes, if asked, I’m going to do my best. But as Skip said, it’s closer-by-committee.”

Arian Foster Youth Jersey.This was the bullpen-by-committee in a game few might have expected it. It worked about as well as they could have planned.

“We’re going to be maneuvering. That’s what we’re going to have to do, and today it worked out pretty good,” Leyland said. “But the Verlander thing, that was a no-brainer for me.”

Hamels, Phils unable to stifle Braves’ power game.Arian Foster Jersey

Chase Utley offered some perspective late Monday night inside a quiet Phillies clubhouse at Turner Field.

His team finished last season a distant third in the National League East following a franchise-record 102 victories in 2011, snapping its run of five consecutive division championships. But the Phillies entered this spring optimistic a healthy roster would provide better results, and almost nothing that happened in Florida over the last month of Spring Training changed their thinking. So it would have been ideal for them to start the season with a crisply played game and a victory over the Braves Arian Foster Jersey.

Instead, they lost on Opening Day, 7-5.

“Listen, obviously you want to win the first game,” Utley said, “but I think we have a few more to go.”

That is the good news. The Phillies have 161 to play, and they certainly expect Cole Hamels to pitch better than he did. He allowed seven hits, five runs, one walk and three home runs against the Braves.

They also expect better from their offense and more from a revamped bullpen.

“We’re going to be able to come back in games,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel promised. “We need to have things click for us. We need to play consistent baseball and good. Tonight, I felt like we did cut some runs down on the infield. We could have scored more. It was a good game, but at the same time, we could never catch them.”

Hamels, who made his first Opening Day start, put the Phillies in a hole immediately.

He walked Jason Heyward on five pitches with one out in the first, and two batters later, Freddie Freeman crushed a 2-1 fastball to right field for a two-run home run to hand the Braves a 2-0 lead. Hamels then threw a 3-0 fastball to Dan Uggla to start the second, and he hit that pitch to left field for a home run to make it 3-0.

Hamels had thrown 26 pitches to that point and just 12 strikes, with two of those strikes leaving the ballpark in a hurry.

Hamels simply wasn’t sharp. He allowed a leadoff double to Andrelton Simmons in the third. Freeman then laced a two-out single to right to hand the Braves a 4-0 lead.

“You have to be able to establish the fastball down in the zone, and I wasn’t able to do that as much as I’d like,” Hamels said. “Most of the pitches that were hit out were fastballs up in the zone. I want to claim that’s uncharacteristic, but there are times when you have to be able to make the adjustment and I wasn’t able to make the adjustment fast enough.”

He indicated he might have been too pumped.

“You get the excitement going. You have to settle in,” he said. “That’s the tough part. You have to control your emotions. It’s a sold-out crowd. It’s Opening Day. You want to win. I wasn’t able to execute.”

But the Phillies chipped away at the lead. Utley hit a solo home run — the 200th of his career — to center field in the fourth to make it 4-1. Hamels hit a one-out single to right in the fifth.Arian Foster Jersey. Ben Revere then worked an 11-pitch at-bat into a walk, which seemed to sap the energy from Braves right-hander Tim Hudson. Jimmy Rollins singled to right to load the bases, and Utley followed with a single to right to score two runs to make it 4-3.

Utley tripled and scored in the seventh to finish the day 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs — and a double shy of the cycle.Houston Texans Arian Foster Jersey.

“That was classic Chase,” Ryan Howard said.

“I worked hard this offseason to get to this point,” said Utley, who missed the previous two Opening Days because of injured knees.

But Hamels continued to fall prey to the Braves’ powerful lineup when Justin Upton crushed a homer to left-center in the fifth to make it 5-3. Phillies right-hander Chad Durbin started the sixth, allowing two runs to make it 7-3.

The Phillies got within two, but they ran into Braves closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

Arian Foster Black Jersey.Game over.

“Hopefully, that is just the beginning,” said Freeman, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. “We’ve got a very balanced lineup one through eight. It’s going to be tough for pitchers to get through us.”

Hamels lived it Monday, but he expects better next time. So do the Phillies. They hope to start Wednesday.

 

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Arian Foster Youth Jersey.

Giants Arian Foster Jersey stymied by Dodgers ace in opener

The season opener between the Giants Arian Foster Jersey and Dodgers very well could have provided scenes from coming attractions, courtesy of baseball-minded folks from neighboring Hollywood.

The traditional rivals play 18 more times this season, and the sense grew during Los Angeles’ 4-0 victory that many of the rematches will follow Monday’s script: dominant pitching disrupted by a sudden outburst of offense.

“There’ll probably be a lot of tight games,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “I think that’ll probably be the theme with us.”

Fortunately for the Giants, they’ll probably face Clayton Kershaw only four or five more times this season. The Giants’ status as reigning World Series champions meant nothing against Kershaw, their biggest nemesis, who slugged and pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-0 triumph.

Kershaw outdid himself before a jam-packed crowd at Dodger Stadium. Not only did he limit the Giants to four hits in his third career shutout against them, but the 6-foot-3 Texan also shattered a scoreless tie by leading off the eighth with his first career home run. That clout also launched a four-run uprising.

With 161 regular-season games remaining, conclusions are risky. But onlookers at least had to consider that the Dodgers, with their horde of high-priced talent and an ownership group bent on success, intend to close the perceived gap between themselves and the Giants by bringing fresh intensity to their confrontations.

“With the whole scenario of what’s going on with Opening Day and a lot of expectation and excitement around our club, the Giants [being] world champions, I think it puts a lot of emphasis on the game,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Asked if he thought that the Dodgers are “targeting” the Giants, Posey said, “You’ll have to ask them, but I’m sure [they are], really, with the success we’ve had over the last few years.”

If that’s the case, the Giants are ready for a staredown.

“We knew they made some big [personnel] moves last year and in the offseason, so we’re looking at those guys as well,” right-hander Matt Cain said.

Except for Cain and Pablo Sandoval, who collected two hits, the Giants Arian Foster Jersey  might want to avert their gaze from this game as quickly as possible. They did not move a runner past first base against Kershaw, whose career 1.28 ERA against the Giants is the best ever (minimum 50 innings pitched). San Francisco could only lament a couple of close calls: Hunter Pence flied out to deep left field leading off the fifth inning and Posey lined out to third base after Sandoval drilled a one-out single in the seventh.

“He hides the ball really well, and he’s similar to the kind of guys we have on our staff,” Posey said of Kershaw, who’s 9-4 lifetime against San Francisco. “He’s going to give you all he’s got.”

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Cain did exactly that in his first Opening Day start by working six combative innings. The right-hander constantly pitched out of trouble, holding the Dodgers hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience of pitching the opener.

“You’ve seen some guys do it, and you always kind of wonder what it feels like,” he said. “There definitely is a lot of hype going on with it, a bit of overreporting, kind of. But that’s the fun part leading up to the first game.”

Having thrown 92 pitches, Cain yielded the mound to George Kontos, who was temporarily a worthy successor. Kontos pitched a perfect seventh and figured to have an edge entering the eighth, since Kershaw was due to lead off.

But Kershaw reminded the Giants that every man with a bat is dangerous by clobbering Kontos’ first pitch over the center-field barrier.Arian Foster Black Jersey.

“He’s a big strong guy,” Kontos said. “If you make a mistake, he’s going to put a good swing on it.”

Kershaw connected with a sinking fastball that didn’t sink enough.

“I knew when he hit it, he hit it well,” Posey said. “I didn’t know that it had enough to get out. But he’s an athlete. … I think the ball ran back to the middle a little bit, and he was all in. He was swinging no matter what.”

Until then, Kontos, the Chicago-area native, was basking in Chavez Ravine’s splendor. Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax threw the ceremonial first pitch, sunshine fought through the clouds and, regardless of your team loyalty, you didn’t have a pulse if you didn’t get goosebumps when Vin Scully intoned, “It’s time for Dod-ger baseball.”

Said Kontos, “It was very exciting. It was a great day. Great atmosphere at the ballpark and it was an experience before my outing that I definitely will never forget. I just wish the results were a little bit better.”

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.