Texas Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels will start Opening Day, manager Jeff Banister confirmed Wednesday morning.
Hamels previously started on Opening Day in 2013 and 2015 for the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rangers traded for him at the July 31 deadline last season.
The hoopla and the expectations that kind go with it
Rangers LHP Cole Hamels
“Knowing what’s at stake, trying to start the season off right, it’s an honor because this is my first opening with Texas,” Hamels said. “I think I’ve learned a lot from the past two. The hoopla and the expectations that kind go with it ... hopefully, we can continue that for about 81 games at home.”
The Rangers have had seven different Opening Day pitchers since Kevin Millwood started four consecutive openers 2006-09.
“It’s a great honor to have that opportunity,” Banister said. “It’s something he’s done previously but to be able to do it for us is pretty special.”
The previous six Opening Day starters and results:
W, 5-4 Blue Jays
W, 9-5 Red Sox
W, 3-2 White Sox
L, 8-2 at Astros
L, 14-10 Phillies
L, 8-0 at A’s
Stars on hand
A large group of Dallas Stars, who clinched an NHL playoff berth Tuesday night with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks, were on hand Wednesday to watch the Rangers play the Cubs at Surprise Stadium. They couldn’t have picked a better game to attend with Derek Holland making the start. Holland is a proud Stars’ season-ticket holder and is close friends with a bunch of their players.
7 Strikeouts for Derek Holland in five innings Wednesday against the Cubs. Holland had seven strikeouts total in 12 combined innings this spring.
Holland was deluged with texts from Stars players after he congratulated them on social media Tuesday night.
“They started blowing my phone up. I couldn’t respond to them fast enough,” said Holland, who held the Cubs to four hits and struck out seven in five innings. “It’s always good to see your friends and have them come out here. It’s awesome.”
Holland threw 20 more pitches in the bullpen after he left the game to finish with a total of 81 pitches.
“I treated it like they weren’t even there,” Holland said of the Stars. “Just like they’re going to do [Thursday night]. They won’t even know I’m there.”
The Stars play the Arizona Coyotes about 13 miles from Surprise in Glendale on Thursday night.
Right-hander Luke Jackson threw off a mound Tuesday for the first time since being sidelined with a stress reaction in his lower back the first week of camp. He threw 23 pitches for a scheduled 20-pitch bullpen session off a regular mound. He threw the extra pitches because he was feeling so good.
“Feels a little weird because I haven’t been on the mound in a while, but my body felt great,” said Jackson, who will throw another bullpen on Thursday. “I felt great this morning, ready to rock and roll. We’ve been on top of it and it’s feeling better every day.”
Davis not ready
Outfielder Ike Davis, who has been battling a knee injury for much of spring, is unlikely to be ready to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster, assistant general manager Thad Levine said. Davis said he’d be open to beginning the season in the minors.
▪ Josh Hamilton took batting practice on the field for the second consecutive day on Wednesday. He said his knee still feels good.
▪ Right-handed reliever Tom Wilhelmsen threw an inning in a minor league game Wednesday, a day after getting an out in relief in Tuesday’s major league game.
▪ Former first-round pick (No. 4 overall) Dillon Tate struck out two and allowed a single in one inning of work in a prospect game against the Cubs on Wednesday night.
Stefan Stevenson: 817-390-7760, @StevensonFWST