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Hamels gets Opening Day nod for Rangers

Will be second such start for Texas, fourth of career
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

Cole Hamels will be the Opening Day starter for the Rangers when they host the defending World Series-champion Astros on March 29.

It will be Hamels' fourth Opening Day start, his second with Texas. He also started on Opening Day in 2016. Yu Darvish was the Rangers' starter on Opening Day last year.

Cole Hamels will be the Opening Day starter for the Rangers when they host the defending World Series-champion Astros on March 29.

It will be Hamels' fourth Opening Day start, his second with Texas. He also started on Opening Day in 2016. Yu Darvish was the Rangers' starter on Opening Day last year.

"Cole is a front-line pitcher and the ace of our staff," manager Jeff Banister said. "He is the guy who should be pitching in front of a rotation based on his experience and overall numbers."

Hamels was the Opening Day starter for the Phillies in 2013 and '15. He will be opposed this time by Houston right-hander Justin Verlander.

Hamels was 11-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 24 starts for the Rangers last season while missing two months with a strained right oblique muscle. He has allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings in his past two starts of the spring.

"He has thrown the ball very well," Banister said. "He is one of those veteran front-line starters; they are never satisfied. That's why Cole is a great pitcher. He is always looking to get better."

Banister hasn't announced the rest of the rotation, but right now Doug Fister and Matt Moore are lined up behind Hamels to pitch the second and third games. The Rangers aren't sure if left-hander Martin Perez will be ready to start the season while he finishes recovering from a broken bone in his right elbow. But he is scheduled to pitch on Sunday against the Angels, and is expected to throw 70-75 pitches.

Mike Minor is expected to also be in the rotation and the Rangers are still evaluating Bartolo Colon, who is to pitch on Saturday against the Royals.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Cole Hamels