Pregame: Opening Day 2011



CHICAGO — Happy Opening Day, everyone. The sun rose on a gray morning in Chicago — it’ll be chilly with a chance for rain — but the game will be played this afternoon, and it oughta be a party on the North Side. An anouncer on WGN radio jus advised folks going to Wrigleyville today to be sure to find a designated driver.

Right-hander Kevin Correia this afternoon will begin his ninth season in the majors by making his first Opening Day start. Correia is a laid-back guy — hey, he’s from San Diego, remember? — so it’s not surprising he’s keeping everything in perspective.

“It’s a pretty important game just because it’s Opening Day, but later in the season, you get in games that mean a lot more,” Correia said. “But with the whole hoopla of everybody that comes out for the start of the baseball season, it’s definitely one of the most exciting games that I’ll pitch in my career.”

The Pirates have won their past four season openers. Of course, that hasn’t kept them from extending the streak of sub-.500 seasons to 18.

“You don’t set the tone in the first series, but it’s nice to get off to a good start,” Correia said. “It kind of gets your confidence rolling at the start of the season, and that’s very important. If you start losing games, it’s not conducive to get on a good streak.”

»»» Manager Clint Hurdle’s advice for Correia: “Just have some fun with it. Channel the energy and the adrenaline and embrace it. Go make a good pitch, then go make another one.”

Lineups for the season opener:

Pirates – 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Neil Walker 2b, 3. Andrew McCutchen, 4. Lyle Overbay 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. Ryan Doumit c, 7. Garrett Jones rf, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Kevin Correia, rhp

Cubs – 1. Kosuke Fukudome rf, .2 Starlin Castro ss, .3 Marlon Byrd cf, 4. Aramis Ramirez 3b, 5. Carlos Pena 1b, 6. Geovany Soto c, 7. Alfonso Soriano lf, 8. Darwin Barney 2b, 9. Ryan Dempster, rhp