CJ Wilson and Edinson Volquez to start openers

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C.J. Wilson and Edinson Volquez got the good news early: They’ll be starting on opening day.

Wilson was picked to open the season for the defending AL champion Texas Rangers, and Volquez will start the first game of the season for the Cincinnati Reds.

“It’s cool,” Wilson said after Texas manager Ron Washington made the announcement Tuesday in Surprise, Ariz. “That gives me a chance to make 34 or 35 starts.”

Wilson was 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA in a team-high 33 starts during the regular season last year. His finest moment came in Game 2 of the AL division series when he held Tampa Bay to two hits over 6 1-3 scoreless innings.

Wilson will face the Boston Red Sox on April 1. Volquez, 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 12 starts after returning from right elbow surgery, goes a day earlier against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“They gave me the opportunity to be the No. 1 here,” Volquez said in Goodyear, Ariz., after Reds manager Dusty Baker gave him the news. “I’m very happy about that. I’ll take it.”

In Fort Myers, Fla., Justin Morneau took the field with his Minnesota Twins teammates for the first time since sustaining a concussion last July 7. The 2006 AL MVP was hurt in Toronto while sliding into second base to break up a double play.

He received a nice ovation from the fans when he stepped to the plate for batting practice.

“It was nice,” he said. “People recognize a little bit how long it’s been since I’ve been out there with my teammates. It was fun.”

He said he plans to wear sunglasses throughout spring training in hopes of limiting the harmful effects bright sun can have on a person who has had a concussion. He prefers not to wear them in the field, but said he will do whatever it takes to keep improving.

“That’s a good thing to see, to see Justin out there with a smile on his face,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “and not worried about all the things he’s had to worry about for so long.”

In Glendale, Ariz., Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams caused a bit of a stir when he said he would support a work stoppage to bring fiscal sanity to baseball.

Williams told Comcast SportsNet “for the game’s health as a whole, when we’re talking about $30 million players, I think it’s asinine.” Williams said later his comments were not personally directed at St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols, who is eligible for free agency after the World Series.

Williams then said Tuesday that championship teams from Oakland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the 1970s and Kansas City in the ‘80s helped popularize baseball.

“I think it’s important that the people and the cities that I just mentioned and many more have just as much chance to hope and dream about their team winning a World Series as anybody else,” he said. “Right now that’s not happening.”

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