Now the games count.
No more words like “exhibition” or “intrasquad” or “simulated.”
I’m hoping to use “postseason” while I’m still in the business.
The sun’s shining but I’m not fooled. I’m taking a jacket to Camden Yards. My blood thinned out during those seven weeks in Sarasota.
At least it’s not snowing. We’ve seen it in the past on opening day.
We saw Jake Arrieta start the home opener last year, but this one’s different. It’s the first of 162 games. It’s truly the opener.
Arrieta exudes confidence. If he’s the least bit jittery over this assignment, it sure doesn’t show.
He looks so calm, I’m expecting him to doze off between warmup pitches, but he’s more amped up than it appears.
“The past day and a half, two days, I’ve been kind of thinking about everything that’s incorporated into throwing an opening game like this,” he said during yesterday’s workout. “The excitement level is really getting to a high level right now. The anxiousness is starting to kick in, which for me is a good thing. I enjoy that feeling.
“There’s really no nervousness. It’s more of an anxiety-driven feeling of wanting to get out there and start the season. Just really ready for the moment.”
Arrieta said being named opening day starter is an honor for many reasons.
“That the organization has that kind of confidence in you as a starter,” he said. “To be the guy who represents the team as the opening day starter is a pretty big deal and I’m very appreciative for the opportunity and I look forward to setting the tone for the year.”
Arrieta has been in a reflective mood.
“The path that you took to get to this point,” he said. “The adversity you go through over the course of your career makes it all worth it. The rehab process that I had to go through this offseason, all the time and effort I had to put in to get to where I am right now and to be the opening day starter really makes everything a lot sweeter, especially the way it’s panned out. It feels really good.”
The challenge right now is not getting too caught up in the moment once the stands are filled and the introductions begin.
“I think (today) is going to be about controlling the excitement and the adrenaline level, which is tough,” he said. “It’s very hard because your adrenaline level is something that’s very hard to control once it kicks in. Staying as calm as I can before I take the mound is going to be the biggest thing for me.
“That’s one of the main objectives is to really go out there and set the tone for the year, not just for (today’s) game. Kind of go out there and make your presence known from the get-go. And I think that’s what an opening day starter has to do.”
So are you ready for some baseball?
As a reminder, here are today’s lineups:
For the Orioles:
Nolan Reimold LF
J.J. Hardy SS
Nick Markakis RF
Adam Jones CF
Matt Wieters C
Wilson Betemit DH
Mark Reynolds 3B
Chris Davis 1B
Robert Andino 2B
Jake Arrieta RHP
For the Twins:
Denard Span CF
Jamey Carroll SS
Joe Mauer C
Justin Morneau DH
Josh Willingham LF
Ryan Doumit RF
Danny Valencia 3B
Chris Parmelee 1B
Alexi Casilla 2B
Carl Pavano RHP
On a non-baseball matter, RIP Joe Scarpa, better known during my childhood as Chief Jay Strongbow. Now that was wrestling.