Plenty at stake in final week of spring games

Plenty at stake in final week of spring games

The regular season is right around the corner with Opening Night now less than a week away. Opportunities for tuneups and roster competitions are dwindling as the Cactus and Grapefruit League schedules wind down.

Only six days remain on the spring slate for roster hopefuls to leave a lasting impression, while those with assured roles continue to work toward regular-season form. All throughout the final week of spring exhibitions, fans can catch much of the action live on MLB.TV.

Here's a few things to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):

Mets' Colon takes on Martinez, Cardinals: NYM@STL, 1:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Two former All-Stars at very different stages of their careers will take the mound as the Cardinals and Mets clash at Roger Dean Stadium. New York's Bartolo Colon, the oldest active player in baseball, will start opposite 24-year-old Cardinals righty Carlos Martinez.

Colon, who turns 43 in May, has shown no signs of slowing down. He tossed six scoreless innings last week, striking out six without any walks. Martinez, meanwhile, posted his best outing of spring his last time out, hurling five shutout frames against the Marlins.

Martinez fans five in outing

"He was nasty," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Every pitch he had today looked sharp. He's in terrific shape, so it doesn't look like he's laboring. The ball jumps without much work."

This contest will also feature the expected return of Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who hasn't played since March 10 due to a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, and Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, who suffered a left knee contusion on Saturday.

Karns competes for rotation spot: KC@SEA, 4:10 p.m., MLB.TV
The competition for the Mariners' fifth rotation spot between Nathan Karns and James Paxton could come down to today's game against the Royals. Neither pitcher has distinguished himself this spring, but after Paxton struggled against the Cubs on Sunday, this could be Karns' opportunity to strengthen his bid.

"They're neck and neck," manager Scott Servais said this weekend. "They've both struggled at times, they've both looked OK for an inning or two here or there. It's very close."

Karns will need to bounce back from a very rough outing against the A's in which he surrendered nine runs (seven earned) on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. He'll do so opposite Royals righty Kris Medlen.

Puig expected back in LA lineup: TEX@LAD, 10:05 p.m., MLB.TV
Outfielder Yasiel Puig is expected to return to the Dodgers' lineup for his team's matchup with the Rangers in Glendale, Ariz. Puig was scratched from Saturday afternoon's game against the Mariners with a tight left hamstring, but manager Dave Roberts said it was just precautionary. Another injured Dodgers player, Kiké Hernandez (rib contusion), is also expected back today.

Alex Wood will start for Los Angeles, while Derek Holland takes the ball for Texas. Holland is making his sixth Cactus League start, the most of any Rangers pitcher.

Stroman makes final Grapefruit League start: PHI@TOR, 1:07 p.m.
Marcus Stroman will get his final Grapefruit League tuneup before his first career Opening Day assignment when his Blue Jays host the Phillies. The 24-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA through three starts this spring. After Toronto rested most of its regulars Sunday, Stroman will likely be joined by Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki.

The Phillies will counter righty Vince Velasquez, who is competing with Adam Morgan for the No. 5 spot in the club's rotation. Velasquez is the presumed favorite and could clinch the starting role with a strong outing against the Jays.

Stroman to start on Opening Day

Strasburg starts Space Coast Stadium finale: MIA@WSH, 1:05 p.m., Gameday Audio
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the Nationals' last home game at Space Coast Stadium before Washington relocates to a new Spring Training home in West Palm Beach, Fla., next year.

Strasburg has allowed five runs and struck out 19 batters through 15 innings this spring. For the Marlins, Chris Narveson will start, and Christian Yelich, Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Johnson are scheduled to join him on the trip.

Astros return to Florida: HOU@ATL, 6:05 p.m., MLB.TV
The Astros will reunite in Florida to face the Braves at Disney after two exhibitions in Mexico City. Doug Fister will start for Houston, making his fifth spring appearance, while rotation candidate Wandy Rodriguez pitches in relief.

Correa, Altuve fan favorites in Mexico City

The Braves will send former Astros Minor Leaguer Mike Foltynewicz to the mound as he looks to bolster his chances at making the Opening Day rotation. Foltynewicz also pitched against his former team last week, helping his cause with 3 2/3 scoreless innings. First baseman Freddie Freeman and the rest of Atlanta's projected starters are expected to be in the lineup.

Correa on win, playing in Mexico

Danks looks to keep scoreless streak going: CWS@COL, 4:10 p.m. MLB.TV
Chicago southpaw John Danks enters his final spring appearance with a stretch of 11 consecutive scoreless innings. He'll will try to keep that streak alive against the Rockies. Opposite Danks will be Colorado's Jordan Lyles, who was also unscored upon in his last Cactus League outing, tossing four shutout frames. Lyles is scheduled to go 90 pitches against the White Sox at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

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