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Big-game James: Rays starter James Shields, who beat Baltimore in last year's opener, has never won in Boston, and it has been ugly, with an 0-3 record and 10.12 ERA. This is his first appearance at Fenway since the June 5 brawl he and Coco Crisp started.

No Joshin': Sox starter Josh Beckett is 5-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 10 starts against the Rays, with 75 strikeouts in 662/3 innings.

Pat's bat: New Rays DH Pat Burrell might have a tough time making a good first impression, not only does he have to get used to his new job, but he's only hit .171 against Beckett, with 10 strikeouts in 35 at-bats.


Motivational gimmickof the day

Coming soon are T-shirts with this year's slogan, '09 > '08, but with a twist. The "greater than" sign will have the team sunburst over it, thus becoming a Rays-ized "better than" sign that manager Joe Maddon preferred.


Roster by the numbers

11Players not with the Rays last opening day

8 Players who were first-round picks

6 Players new to the organization in '09

5 Players having first opening day in big leagues


Did you know? Updated edition

April 7 is now the latest the Rays have ever opened a season; they opened on April 5 in 1999.


Changing places

Pat Burrell, above, will become the fifth player since 1970 to play against a team in the World Series then play for that team in its opener the following season. The list:

Don Gullett: '76 Reds, '77 Yanks

Tommy John: '78 Dodgers, '79 Yanks

Gary Thomasson: '78 Dodgers, '79 Yanks

Edgar Renteria: '04 Cards, '05 Red Sox

Burrell: '08 Phillies, '09 Rays


Quote of the day

"I don't think we've ever been at home opening day. So it's not really a surprise to me, no. We've got to win more to get that honor."

Rays starter James Shields, on opening on the road despite being AL champs.


Number of the day

29.26 Average age of Rays' 25-man roster (including 39-year-old Troy Percival and 40-year-old Brian Shouse), tied for 14th youngest of 30 MLB teams.


For starters

Expected lineups for today's game:


Iwamura, 2b

Crawford, lf

Longoria, 3b

Pena, 1b

Burrell, dh

Joyce, cf

Navarro, c

Gross, rf

Bartlett, ss

Shields, p


Ellsbury, cf

Pedroia, 2b

Ortiz, dh

Youkilis, 1b

Drew, rf

Bay, lf

Lowell, 3b

Lowrie, ss

Varitek, c

Beckett, p