Prince batting third in 10th Opening Day

Prince batting third in 10th Opening Day

OAKLAND -- The Rangers' lineup may be a work in progress all season, but on Monday night, manager Jeff Banister went with Prince Fielder batting third, Adrian Beltre in the cleanup spot and Shin-Soo Choo batting fifth in the Opening Day batting order.

"It's the lineup for today," Banister said. "Like I said all along, we're going to look for lineups that create run-scoring opportunities on a nightly basis."

Leonys Martin led off, with Elvis Andrus batting second. After Choo came Ryan Rua, Mitch Moreland, Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor. Beginning with Martin, that allowed the Rangers to alternate left- and right-handed hitters through the order.

"Hitting Choo in the fifth spot helps stretch out the lineup and moving Moreland down helps give us two threats at the bottom of the order," Banister said. "More than anything, it was the ability to stretch the lineup out. That was the thinking, and getting Fielder in play in the first inning."

Banister on Opening Day emotions

Fielder was back in the lineup for the first time since May 16. He missed the rest of the season with a herniated disk in his neck but came back full strength in Spring Training and hit .341 in the Cactus League. He had nine hits in his last 18 at-bats.

"I feel good," Fielder said. "I am actually hitting the ball hard the other way, and not on purpose. My mechanics are allowing me to do that. I'm able to drive the ball the other way, and that's a good thing. I hit good in Spring Training. If you hit good in Spring Training, it doesn't count. If you hit bad, it counts. So at least I can say it doesn't count."

This is Fielder's 10th straight Opening Day, but given the injury, this one might mean a little more.

"Maybe a little bit; it should," he said. "I didn't miss Opening Day last year, but I didn't play much, so I missed it. It's the same amount of excitement, but I have been away, so it means a little bit more."

Worth noting

• Banister is close to being over his four-day battle with the flu.

Said Banister: "Alive, baby, I'm alive. Four days of high-dose meds, and I'm OK. Brutal, I ain't going to lie to you. But we're good."

• Reliever Tanner Scheppers, on the disabled list with a sprained right ankle, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. If that goes well, he'll begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Friday.

• Banister said that his starting pitchers are going to be on a pitch count of between 100 and 105 through the first turn in the rotation.

Said Banister: "The collateral damage of letting a guy go coming out of Spring Training can be problematic later down the road."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.