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Morton to lead Astros' home opener, celebration

Day includes pregame ceremonies to raise championship banner
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

ARLINGTON -- The Astros will unveil their 2017 World Series championship banner in a ceremony prior to Monday's regular-season home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park. The ceremony will also feature the Commissioner's Trophy and a flyover by the US Navy Training Air Wing 2, if the weather cooperates.

"The first couple of days are going to be packed full of fans, full of excitement, full of memories of videos and some special people coming back throwing out first pitches," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Opening Day [in Arlington] was exciting, but the anticipation of the season, I think it's multiplied when you have something so special to celebrate like the World Series."

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ARLINGTON -- The Astros will unveil their 2017 World Series championship banner in a ceremony prior to Monday's regular-season home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park. The ceremony will also feature the Commissioner's Trophy and a flyover by the US Navy Training Air Wing 2, if the weather cooperates.

"The first couple of days are going to be packed full of fans, full of excitement, full of memories of videos and some special people coming back throwing out first pitches," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Opening Day [in Arlington] was exciting, but the anticipation of the season, I think it's multiplied when you have something so special to celebrate like the World Series."

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Video: 11/1/17 Reel Fast: Astros win first WS championship

Retired former Astros first-base coach Rich Dauer, who nearly died in the hours following the team's World Series championship parade, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday. Astros players, coaches and the field staff will be presented with their World Series rings prior to Tuesday's game. Carlos Beltran will throw out the first pitch Tuesday.

"I can't wait to go home and play in front of our fans in Houston," 2017 American League Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve said. "It's going to be exciting. It's going to be the first time they actually can watch us play after the World Series. It's going to be pretty interesting and I know they're excited and we're excited. It's going to be a good day."

Charlie Morton, who was on the mound when the Astros clinched Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1 against the Dodgers, will start the game for Houston. Hinch wanted to give Morton the home start in recognition for the work he did last season, which included winning Game 7 of both the AL Championship Series and the World Series.

Video: WS2017 Gm7: Astros celebrate winning the World Series

"It's an honor to pitch the home opener and have the fans come out," Morton said. "I'm anticipating the excitement and I think it will be a special night for us."

Morton went 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA in 25 starts in the regular season last year and worked four innings of relief in Game 7 against the Dodgers.

"I felt like he earned the opportunity to be the one to pitch back at home when we hang the flag," Hinch said. "He was the guy who got the 27th out of the World Series. There's a lot of memories that come with that and a lot of flashbacks how we got [to] the point of hanging the flag we're going to hang tomorrow, and what better story than having Charlie Morton pitch that game."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros