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Darvish's Cubs debut among today's highlights

Red Sox, Astros clash; Bartolo pitches; Sabathia returns to mound
MLB.com @JALaymance

It's the first day of March, meaning regular-season baseball is only four weeks away.

As big leaguers continue to prepare for Opening Day, a number of star players will make their spring debuts today. Here are five things to watch for today in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

It's the first day of March, meaning regular-season baseball is only four weeks away.

As big leaguers continue to prepare for Opening Day, a number of star players will make their spring debuts today. Here are five things to watch for today in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.

1. Darvish debuts with Cubs
Yu Darvish will make his first appearance with the Cubs when he starts against the visiting Rockies at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. The Cubs signed Darvish to a six-year, $126 million contract in February.

The Cubs are eager to see what Darvish will bring to the rotation after he impressed onlookers during live batting practice last week.

"He's insane," catcher Willson Contreras said, referring to Darvish's pitches. "The movement he has on the baseball, on the breaking balls, and the fastball command he had is crazy."

First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET, and the game can be listened to via exclusive audio webcast on Cubs.com.

Video: Maddon discusses Darvish's bullpen session

2. Red Sox face Astros with revenge in mind
Red Sox manager Alex Cora leads his new club into a rematch with the defending World Series-champion Astros, as the two teams meet for the first time since the 2017 American League Division Series, when Cora was Houston's bench coach.

Rick Porcello starts for the Red Sox, and the Astros counter with Charlie Morton. The starting pitching matchup is the same as it was in Game 4 of the ALDS, when the Astros eliminated the Red Sox in Boston.

The Red Sox are expected to have an impressive travel roster. The talented starting outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts is expected to make the trip. Slugger Hanley Ramirez, third baseman Rafael Devers and catcher Christian Vazquez are also expected to be in the lineup.

"I think most of those guys, being in front of those guys, it will be good for them," Cora said. "Just a reminder, 'Remember what they did to you guys.' For me, it's a good time to turn the page, obviously. ... We still have a ways to go, but for some reason on March 1 is when everything starts flowing and it just happens to be [against] the Astros, so that's a good message for that group."

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, and the game will live on MLB.TV.

Video: Alex Cora eager to manage Red Sox in 2018

3. Bartolo starts for Rangers
Bartolo Colon will make his first start for the Rangers in a split-squad game against the Padres. A veteran of 20 big league seasons, Colon is in camp with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee. Colon, 44, has started regular-season games for 10 different franchises.

Meanwhile, the Padres will send 25-year-old prospect Clayton Blackburn to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET; listen to it via the Rangers' exclusive audio webcast.

Video: Bartolo Colon signs Minor League deal with Rangers

4. First spring action for Sabathia
CC Sabathia will make his Grapefruit League debut, as the Yankees visit the Phillies for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest in Clearwater, Fla., live on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Sabathia is entering his 18th season in the Majors and his 10th with the Yankees.

Nick Pivetta starts for the Phils. New York's travel squad is expected to feature Brandon Drury, Jacoby Ellsbury, Estevan Florial, Aaron Hicks and Gleyber Torres, their top prospect.

Video: Outlook: CC could deliver solid year in rotation

5. Waino gets the ball
Adam Wainwright takes the mound for his first action of the spring as the Cardinals return to Roger Dean Stadium to host the Twins. Left-hander Tyler Lyons will also make his Grapefruit League debut in relief for the Cards.

The Twins will start lefty Adalberto Mejia. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET and will be available on MLB.TV.

Video: Matheny speaks of Wainwright's history of success

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Bartolo Colon, Yu Darvish, CC Sabathia, Adam Wainwright