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Opening Day 2011: Texas Rangers Vs. Boston Red Sox

The official Opening Day in Major League Baseball was yesterday, but Opening Day for the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers begins today. The Rangers will send lefty C.J. Wilson to the mound on Opening Day in Arlington as the Texas Rangers begin their pennant defense.

Today's game will be a firsts for many - it will be Wilson's first Opening Day start as well as Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli's first game as members of the Rangers. Beltre was signed to a five-year deal with an option for a sixth year over the winter after the Rangers failed to re-sign lefty ace Cliff Lee. Beltre will serve as Texas' third baseman this year, taking over for Michael Young, who has now been relegated to the role of designated hitter and utility infielder.

Napoli was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for relief pitcher Frank Francisco. Napoli was sent to Toronto from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a trade that landed Vernon Wells in Anaheim.

There will be plenty of familiar faces returning for the Rangers, including reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton and Rookie of the Year award winner Neftali Feliz, who will remain the closer for the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers will be facing perhaps the preseason favorite to win the World Series as they take on the Boston Red Sox. Boston had perhaps the best offseason of any team in Major League Baseball, trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford to a multi-year deal. Boston also bolstered their bullpen by signing Bobby Jenks to serve as a setup man. 

The Red Sox will be sending lefty Jon Lester to the mound. Lester went 19-9 in 2010 for Boston, posting a 3.25 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP while striking out 225 in 208 innings of work.

Today's game can be seen on a nationwide broadcast as well on ESPN. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. EST, 3:05 p.m. local.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.