The first pitch in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues will be thrown today as the Cardinals and Royals start their journey to opening day in April.  Yes, the games don’t mean anything, but it symbolizes that we’re one step closer to spring and warm weather here in Missouri.

Royals manager Trey Hillman’s lineup today against the Rangers could feature many of the regulars we’ll see opening day, April 6 th in Chicago.  Coco Crisp will lead off and play center with shortstop Mike Aviles batting second and David DeJesus in left.  Newly acquired Mike Jacobs will DH and Billy Butler will play first.  Alex Gordon at third, Mark Teahen gets his first shot at second.  Miguel Olivo will catch and Willie Bloomquist who is competing with Teahen at second will start in right.

Horacio Ramirez, could be vital to this pitching staff will throw the first couple of innings.  Ramirez can pitch long relief or even start which over the long haul of the summer could be a valuable tool for Hillman.

In Florida, Tony LaRussa’s lineup will look nothing like his opening day on April 6 th against Pittsburgh.  Today, six outfielders will be in the starting nine. 

Rick Ankiel CF, Ryan Ludwick RF, and Colby Rasmus LF will be joined by Chris Duncan who will DH, Skip Schumaker who looks to covert from outfielder to second basemen, and Joe Mather another outfielder who takes his stab at third as the Cards look for a fill-in until Troy Glaus returns from shoulder surgery.

Starting on the mound with be Blake Hawksworth, once a top pitching prospect who has had his share of injuries.