Professional baseball returns Thursday after a long, and sometimes ominous-looking, offseason.
Opening Day of the 2022 Major League Baseball season is today. All 30 big league clubs are set to play their first game of the regular season either Thursday or Friday.
Two former West Virginia pitchers are on Opening Day rosters this year. And they play in the same division.
2019 first-round pick Alek Manoah enters his second season with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The former Mountaineer All-American went 9-2 with a 3.22 ERA in his first season in the big leagues. He also played a big role in the Blue Jays climbing into playoff contention late in the year.
The 24-year-old righty is expected to be a fixture in Toronto’s pitching rotation all season long in 2022.
Eight hours south of Toronto, and a little closer to Morgantown, is Oriole Park at Camden Yards – the home ballpark of John Means.
The 2019 AL all-star posted a 6-9 record with a 3.62 ERA last season. He also became the first Orioles starter to throw a complete game no-hitter since 1969, when he struck out 12 and blanked the Seattle Mariners.
Means has arguably been the most consistent starter for Baltimore over the past three seasons.
The 2014 MLB Draft pick is arbitration-eligible for two more seasons, meaning that if he performs well, he will continue to be a trade candidate. His contract provides financial flexibility for both Baltimore and other interested teams.
Both Toronto and Baltimore will begin their seasons on Friday.
Means and the Orioles are on the road at Tampa Bay. First pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. ET. Means, who gets the ball on Opening Day, will take the mound in the bottom of the first inning.
Manoah, however, is not slated to make his first start of the year until Monday April 11, in New York against the Yankees.
That means he’ll start this season against the same team he made his big league debut against last season.