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Opening Day 2012: Texas Rangers Vs. Chicago White Sox

The two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers start their 2012 campaign on Friday, when they host the Chicago White Sox.

Opening day in earnest is upon us, and It's official: baseball is back.

The Texas Rangers will kick off their 2012 campaign and a quest for a third consecutive American League pennant on Friday, when they play host to the Chicago White Sox.

While much has been publicized about the changes in Texas' staff, a familiar face will get the nod on Opening Day as Colby Lewis will be Texas' Opening Day starter. Lewis has pitched over 200 innings in each of the last two years for the Rangers, and went 14-10 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.21 WHIP last year. Lewis was a 4.6 WAR pitcher in 2010, and if he wants to return to that mark in 2012, he'll need to keep the ball in the park, as he allowed a staggering 35 home runs in 2011.

With Neftali Feliz' transition to the rotation now complete, there will be a new face as Texas' closer in the bullpen. Joe Nathan will now be called on to shut the door for the Rangers, and he'll look to return to his pre-Tommy John surgery form. Nathan missed the 2010 season after undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery, but was a dominant force in Minnesota's bullpen from 2004-2009.

The series between the Rangers and White Sox will be a three game set, and here are the game times and probable pitchers for this weekend's series:

Friday, April 6, 1:05 p.m. CT: Colby Lewis vs. John Danks
Saturday, April 7, 7:05 p.m. CT: Derek Holland vs. Jake Peavy
Sunday, April 8, 7:05 p.m. CT: Matt Harrison vs. Gavin Floyd

Televised coverage for Friday and Saturday's games can be found on Fox Sports Southwest. ESPN will carry Sunday night's game.

For more on the Rangers, be sure to check out Lone Star Ball and join the discussion.

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