The best stories on 2024 Opening Day rosters

March 30th, 2024

Every baseball fan has a favorite team or favorite players that they love to root for on a nightly basis. We here at are no different. But we root the most for good stories.

It could be about a player making a triumphant return from injury, an elite prospect getting the call to the Majors or a Minor Leaguer overcoming the odds to reach The Show, to name just a few possibilities.

Everyone has a good story to tell. Here are 13 that stood out among players who made 2024 Opening Day rosters.

is back with the Cardinals
We begin with a couple of notable veterans returning to the cities where they became All-Stars and fan favorites. Carpenter wore Cardinal red for 2011-21. Often batting at the top of some star-studded lineups, he was the offensive firestarter when St. Louis made the playoffs in 2013, '14 and '15. A member of four division winners, he notched three All-Star appearances, 155 homers and an .816 OPS before signing with the Rangers in 2022. Carpenter had a resurgent stint with the Yankees later that year, helped out by his training sessions with former Cardinals teammate Matt Holliday. After spending this past offseason with Holliday, the 38-year-old is out to prove he can be a key contributor for the Cardinals once more.

returns to Cleveland
The man they call Cookie won the final spot in the Guardians' rotation with a strong spring. When president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti broke the news to him, he said that with the way the 37-year-old Carrasco reacted, "you would’ve thought it was the first Opening Day roster he’s ever made." Cleveland means a lot to Carrasco, and vice versa. He provided unforgettable moments on and off the field from 2009-2020. He earned Cy Young votes in 2015 and 2017 and owned a 3.77 ERA across more than 1,200 innings with the Guardians before he was traded to the Mets in '21. But Carrasco's greatest moment came in 2019 when he returned to the mound after a battle with leukemia. He was greeted by a standing ovation, and there may be more of those in his future while he sports his familiar No. 59 jersey.

makes us feel old
A lot was made of Chourio's age ahead of his MLB debut with the Brewers. And hey, why not? He is the first big league player born in 2004. At 20 years and 18 days, he was the fifth-youngest player to start an Opening Day game in the Divisional Era (since 1969). He was also the youngest player since 1937 to debut as his team's leadoff hitter on Opening Day. But Chourio isn't just very young; he is also supremely talented. The precocious outfielder is the No. 2 prospect in baseball. He possesses plus hitting ability, good defensive instincts and fantastic speed -- and we saw all of those tools on display in his first game.

gets the (unexpected) call from Brewers
Chourio and Dunn, two of 12 Brewers who made an MLB Opening Day roster for the first time, traveled very different paths to their debut. While the top prospect has had eyes on him for a long while, Dunn knows what it's like to be overlooked. The former Yankees prospect was the last pick of the Minor League phase of the 2022 Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies selected him and, after Dunn had a productive season at Double-A, traded him to Milwaukee in November. The 26-year-old kept putting up solid numbers in the Arizona Fall League and during Spring Training but was preparing to open the year at Triple-A. Then he got an unexpected phone call to let him know that his Major League dream had come true.

looks to regain his title as MLB's best closer
Sound the trumpets!

Díaz is ready to supply the music and the heat as he gets back on the mound after missing the entire 2023 season due to a freak right knee injury suffered in a postgame celebration during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Lest we forget that Díaz's most recent season was one of the most dominant we've seen, highlighted by a 17.1 K/9 rate, the second-highest in AL/NL history among pitchers with at least 30 innings. If Spring Training is any judge, Díaz hasn't lost any bit of his nasty stuff. He is looking forward to another season of making Mets fans dance and opposing batters flail.

's rapid rise to the bigs
Perhaps Langford will struggle in his first look at big league pitching. If so, it will be the first time in years that he wasn't one of the best hitters on the diamond. MLB's No. 6 prospect soared to the Majors a mere eight months after the Rangers chose him with the No. 4 pick in the MLB Draft. But it's not like the right-handed slugger left Texas with any other choice. He played at four levels of its Minor League system last year and had an OPS of 1.000 or better at each of them. He continued his string with a 1.137 OPS in 71 plate appearances this spring. You have to go back to Langford's time in a collegiate summer league in 2021 -- after his freshman season at the University of Florida -- to find a place where his OPS wasn't four digits. It was only .987.

joins White Sox after MVP season in Korea
A first-round Draft pick in 2014, Fedde posted a 5.41 ERA in six seasons with the Nationals. After recording a 5.81 mark across 127 innings in 2022, the right-hander knew something needed to change.

"I looked myself in the mirror. Had to do that," Fedde said.

He ended up on the other side of the globe, pitching in Korea with the NC Dinos of the KBO. At the end of the season, he was named league MVP and the winner of the Choi Dong-won Award, the KBO equivalent of the Cy Young. Thanks to changes in his repertoire, Fedde posted a 2.00 ERA with 209 strikeouts and only 35 walks in 180 1/3 innings. He signed a two-year deal with the White Sox in December and now looks to establish himself as a dependable starter.

swaps video games for MLB games
Imagine this: You're just sitting at home, playing a video game with your friends. A ringing phone interrupts your concentration. Once you pick up, the voice on the other end says that you just earned a shot to make it to the Major Leagues. That was kind of how Fernandez found out that he was a Cardinal. St. Louis selected him in December's Rule 5 Draft, even after the 25-year-old produced a 6.16 ERA in 30 2/3 frames with the Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate. But Fernandez's 67 strikeouts through 54 1/3 total innings in '23 piqued the Cardinals' interest. The right-hander pitched well enough in Spring Training to nab his place in the 'pen.

may be Red Sox's next Rule 5 success story
Like Fernandez, Slaten was scooped up in the most recent Rule 5 Draft (he was picked by the Mets before being traded immediately to Boston.) There are a few other players from that draft who grabbed an Opening Day roster spot, but what makes Slaten's story interesting is how it parallels a recent Red Sox Rule 5 success.

In 2020, the club selected Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 Draft, and he quickly became one of the most valuable arms in Boston's bullpen. Whitlock is now in the team's rotation, and he offered advice to Slaten as the 26-year-old made his case for a roster spot during Spring Training. Slaten, a 2019 third-round Draft pick of the Rangers who had a 36.6% K rate in the Minors last year, made the best of his opportunity, permitting only two hits and no earned runs in 6 1/3 Grapefruit League innings.

finally receives an Opening Day roster spot
Jackson is the definition of a journeyman. Drafted in 2008, he has pitched in the Majors for five franchises and in the Minors for three others. He even spent a few seasons in Japan. However, Jackson's journey finally led him onto an Opening Day roster in Minnesota.

"Even though it’s taken 17 [years], it’s been a wonderful 17," he said. "I wouldn’t change it for the world."

The 36-year-old's accomplishment has to feel a little extra sweet given what he and his family have been through in recent months. In December, Jackson and his fiancée were able to bring home their son, JR, following a five-month stay in a neonatal intensive care unit after he was born about 14 weeks premature.

represents a nation with his first Opening Day nod
Scott didn't have to wait quite as long as Jackson for his first Opening Day -- he was drafted in 2011 -- but claiming an Opening Day spot with the Astros this season is a big honor for a pitcher who will always be a part of MLB history. In 2019, Scott became only the second player from South Africa -- and the first pitcher -- to appear in a Major League game. He logged 39 appearances between the Mariners, Orioles, Padres, Dodgers, Red Sox and A’s from 2019-23. His 40th appearance was a scoreless inning with Houston on Thursday.

"It was definitely my main goal and dream to be the first [South African] pitcher in the big leagues," said Scott, who remains the country's only big league hurler. "To be able to do that was incredible."

perseveres after injury-erased seasons
In 2020, Sánchez was a phenom. A top prospect. The next great Marlins starting pitcher. Just 22 years old and armed with a 100-mph fastball, Sánchez's five scoreless innings against the Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series propelled the franchise to its first postseason series victory since its 2003 championship year.

The future was bright. And then it was bleak. Two right shoulder surgeries and multiple setbacks kept Sánchez out of an organized baseball game for all but one inning over the next three seasons. But he never left the comeback trail. Finally healthy and back as a relief pitcher, Sánchez allowed no runs and struck out eight batters across nine spring innings this year. He completed his long climb back to the Majors on Thursday, tossing an inning in Miami's Opening Day game. Another good sign: His heater topped out at 98.2 mph.

looks very different after a season away
It would be appropriate to describe the 6-foot-4 Sanó as a hulking slugger throughout his MLB career. The "slugger" part is still true; he drilled four home runs in 54 spring at-bats, including one on the day he found out he made the Angels' roster. He's just not quite as hulking these days. Sanó, who belted 161 homers with the Twins from 2015-21, was limited to only 20 games with the Twins in 2022 because of a knee injury and then spent 2023 rehabbing and working out as a free agent. The result? After signing a Minor League deal with Los Angeles, Sanó reported to camp 58 pounds lighter.

"I wanted to feel better and lighter," he said through an interpreter. "And that will lead to a better performance on the field."