After nearly 50 days of spring training and a long winter respite, Major League Baseball’s 2017 regular season has finally arrived, with the first Opening Day arriving Sunday with three games.
The season officially begins shortly after 1 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN when Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer delivers the first pitch to the New York Yankees. The Yankees will start their ace, Masahiro Tanaka, and should things go well, could deploy the highest-paid relief pitcher in major league history — Aroldis Chapman, who re-joined the club by signing a record five-year, $86 million contract.
The National League will take it from there, as the San Francisco Giants and lefty ace Madison Bumgarner open at the Arizona Diamondbacks, who will start right-hander Zack Greinke, on ESPN2 around 4 p.m. ET. Finally, at 8:30 ET, the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs — yep, it still happened — open against their NL Central rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, at Busch Stadium on ESPN.
Some essentials to get you ready for the season:
PREVIEWS: National League preview
PREVIEWS: American League
PREDICTIONS: USA TODAY Sports’ 2017 picks