Opening Day preview: Aces on mound today

Kershaw vs. Sale among highlights in 17-game exhibition slate

Opening Day preview: Aces on mound today

The regular season may be a few weeks away, but fans can still catch many of the game's biggest stars each day in Cactus and Grapefruit League exhibitions.

Today's spring slate, in particular, is chock full of pitching talent. Former Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke and Corey Kluber will take the mound for their clubs, in addition to aces Sonny Gray, Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale.

Much of the action will be available for streaming live on MLB.TV. Here are a few things to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):

White Sox's Sale debuts vs. Kershaw: LAD@CHW, 4:05 p.m., MLB.TV
For the first time this spring, Sale will take the mound in a Cactus League contest. He'll start opposite Los Angeles ace Kershaw in a late afternoon game at Camelback Ranch, the spring training facility shared by these two teams.

Sale is taking the next step in his modified spring program, moving on from simulated games and a "B" game start against the Dodgers on Monday against mostly Minor Leaguers.

"I think it's time to get out to the big field and start playing with the grownups -- no offense to anybody," Sale said Monday. "There's something to be said for fans being there, being in a big stadium, hearing the noise, the music between innings."

The game will be Kershaw's fourth tuneup. He appears to be in mid-season form, however, having allowed just one earned run through 10 innings with 10 strikeouts and a .216 opponents' batting average.

Kershaw discusses pitching drive

Royals, Rangers clash at the Alamodome: KC@TEX, 3 p.m., MLB.TV
Major League Baseball has made its way to San Antonio this weekend with a two-game set between the Royals and Rangers at the Alamodome. The series marks the third and fourth meetings between these American League clubs this spring. Rotation hopeful A.J. Griffin will start for Texas in the finale, and right-hander Chien-Ming Wang continues his big-league comeback with Kansas City.

King Felix looks to bounce back: ARI@SEA, 10:10 p.m., MLB.TV
Seattle's Opening Day starter Hernandez will toe the rubber against the D-backs. Hernandez will try to improve on his spring debut last week, in which he allowed three runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Rockies. Right-hander Tyler Wagner is scheduled to go for the split-squad Arizona team.

King Felix gets out of a jam

Bumgarner returns to action: OAK@SFG, 4:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Bumgarner is scheduled to return to the field after left-foot and rib-cage issues scratched him from his last spring outing. He threw a side session on Wednesday followed by a light bullpen session Thursday and was cautiously optimistic about taking the field against Felix Doubront and the Oakland Athletics.

"We still do have time," Bumgarner said. "Like I've said before, you don't want to take something that's not that big a deal and make it into one. It's tough, because it's not fun to go and get treatment and get worked on. It's fun to go out and do your job."

MadBum on mindset, new teammates

Brantley set for spring debut: CHC-CLE, 10:05 p.m., Gameday Audio
Michael Brantley will take a major step toward being ready for Opening Day when he makes his Cactus League debut against the Cubs. Brantley has been limited this spring after undergoing right shoulder surgery in November.

"I'm optimistic, just because of how he's feeling and how he's doing," manager Terry Francona said Friday. "Again, I'm not ready to [say he will be on the Opening Day roster]. I don't think it's fair to him. I'm just really excited about where he's at in his progression. Other than that, I'll just let it play itself out."

Right-hander Kluber will start for the Indians as he works his way toward his second Opening Day assignment, and Pierce Johnson will make his first spring start for Chicago. Ben Zobrist is also expected back in the Cubs lineup after missing two days with an ingrown toenail.

Brantley plays in Minors game

Gray, A's host the Reds: CIN@OAK, 4:05 p.m., Gameday Audio
With Doubront headed to Scottsdale, Ariz., to take on the Giants, A's ace Gray will stay home with the rest of the roster to face the Reds at Hohokam Stadium. Raisel Iglesias will take the ball for Cincinnati for his second start of the spring. Billy Hamilton, Jose Peraza and Eugenio Suarez are also scheduled to make the trip to Mesa, Ariz.

Greinke takes the hill: TEX-ARI, 4:10 p.m., Gameday Audio
Arizona will send Greinke to the mound for the fourth time this spring when the D-backs host a split-squad Rangers team in Scottsdale. Greinke, the D-backs' Opening Day starter, was Arizona's biggest acquisition this winter when he signed a $206.5 million deal with the club as a free agent. He'll oppose the Rangers' Chi Chi Gonzalez, a candidate for the fifth spot in the Texas rotation.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.