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Stanton's Yanks debut tops opening spring slate

February 22, 2018

The months of waiting are finally over -- there are 15 Major League Baseball games on Friday.They're "only" Spring Training games, of course, but there'll be plenty to watch for when almost every team takes the field for their Cactus and Grapefruit League openers.• Watch 11 games Friday on MLB.TVThat

The months of waiting are finally over -- there are 15 Major League Baseball games on Friday.
They're "only" Spring Training games, of course, but there'll be plenty to watch for when almost every team takes the field for their Cactus and Grapefruit League openers.
Watch 11 games Friday on MLB.TV
That goes especially for the big names playing their first games in new uniforms. The biggest: Reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner Giancarlo Stanton, who is set to put his immense power on display for the first time in pinstripes.
Stanton, traded from the Marlins to the Yankees in exchange for Starlin Castro and prospects Jorge Guzman and shortstop Jose Devers this offseason, will take the field for his first Spring Training game as a member of the Bronx Bombers on Friday vs. the Tigers. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m ET at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
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Stanton won't be the only big name in a new jersey. Some of his former star Marlins teammates will also be in action with their new squads. Christian Yelich is slated to debut for the Brewers against the Cubs (3:05 p.m. ET), and Dee Gordon will get his first action in center field for the Mariners when they take on the Padres (3:10 p.m. ET).
Gordon has been working on learning the new position since his trade to Seattle in December, but Friday will be the speedster's first game as an outfielder.
All teams in action Friday will be wearing special Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School baseball caps before the game to honor the victims of the tragic shooting that killed 17 -- 14 students and three staff members -- at the Parkland, Fla., school on Feb. 14. Teams will also be allowed to wear the caps during their games.

The effort that started with a few Grapefruit League teams requesting to wear the caps quickly spread throughout the Majors, and soon, all 30 clubs had decided to participate in the tribute. Many will also be signing and auctioning off the caps following the games to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which will benefit the official Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund.
Here is what else to watch for in baseball throughout the day:
Defending champs debut: Nationals at Astros, 1:05 p.m. ET
The World Series-champion Astros are set out to reclaim their spot atop the baseball world, and their quest to do so begins with Friday's Grapefruit League opener vs. the Nationals. The contest is available for viewing on MLB Network.

Regulars Jake Marisnick, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis will be in the lineup for Houston opposite Washington left-hander Tommy Milone, who is looking to turn around his career with the club that drafted him back in 2008.
Cards pitching prospects debut: Cardinals at Marlins, 1:05 p.m. ET
The starting pitcher for the Cardinals' Spring Training opener will definitely be one worth watching -- Jack Flaherty, the club's No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old right-hander is the No. 38 prospect in the Majors entering the 2018 season, with only Alex Reyes ahead of him in the St. Louis farm system.

The hurler who will finish the game for the Cards is also noteworthy in his own right: Cardinals No. 7 prospect Jordan Hicks, a flame-throwing 21-year-old righty who could be a future closer in St. Louis. He'll bookend the game with Flaherty -- Flaherty is scheduled to pitch the first two innings and Hicks the last two.
Meet the Mets: Braves at Mets, 1:10 p.m. ET
All eyes will be on new Mets manager Mickey Callaway when he calls the shots for his first game in blue and orange. The Mets have a veteran clubhouse, so their opener in Port St. Lucie, Fla., will be nothing new for most of the players, but it's a different story for the rookie skipper. 
There will be a few new faces on the field, too. Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez are both scheduled to make their Mets debuts after New York signed them as free agents this offseason.

Also, be sure to watch Zack Wheeler on the mound and Brandon Nimmo at the top of the order. Wheeler's spring will be an audition for a rotation spot, and Nimmo could see significant time in the leadoff spot this season.
Giant debut on deck for Cutch: Brewers (SS) at Giants, 3:05 p.m. ET
Offseason acquisition Andrew McCutchen is slated to start in right field when the Giants open their Cactus League slate against Milwaukee. Hunter Pence, who is set to shift to left field with the addition of McCutchen, is also expected to be in the starting lineup when San Francisco faces a split squad of Brewers.

Ty Blach, a favorite to claim one of the two vacancies in San Francisco's starting rotation, will lead the parade of available pitchers for the Giants, while right-hander Aaron Wilkerson will get the call for Milwaukee.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

David Adler is a reporter for based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.