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Cuban outfielder Alvarez ready to join MLB

Cuban outfield prospect Dariel Alvarez is ready to sign with a Major League club.

On Thursday, Alvarez, 24, a right-handed hitter who played for Camaguey in Serie Nacional, told MLB.com that he was declared a free agent by the Commissioner’s Office in January and cleared by the U.S. government to enter into a contract with a big league club a month later. He said a change in representation is part of the reason his appearance on the market has been delayed.

“I am ready,” Alvarez said. “I can sign. Just waiting on the best opportunity.” . . . Full story >

–Jesse Sanchez

Friday’s Opening Day schedule

Opening Day continues today. Here are Friday’s Major League Baseball games:

Dodgers at Padres

Dodgers at Padres

Photo courtesy of Alexander Pigeon of MLB.com

Mitch Williams predicts pennant for Arizona

Our fellow blogger Mitch Williams, the MLB.com columnist, MLB Network studio analyst and former closer, just posted over on Wild Things and predicted that the D-backs will meet the Tigers in the World Series. Here’s an excerpt from his National League predictions post he just saved, so be sure to go leave him comments whether you agree or disagree:

I see Washington and Milwaukee meeting in the one-game playoff, with the Nats advancing to play the Phillies in the Division Series. The Phillies have a big advantage in experience and will win this series, while Justin Upton and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat St. Louis in the other NLDS.

I’m going out on a limb and saying Arizona beats Philly in the NLCS and advances to the World Series.

Time to check the Latest Leaders

Quick commercial break to announce the Latest Leaders, and not the ones starting to show up in the batting and pitching stats. We’re talking about the March leaders by page view right here at MLB.com Blogs, posted just now on our community blog. MLB.com beat reporter Jen Langosch dominated overall in the community with her Cardinals blog By Gosh, It’s Langosch. Seems that Cardinals fans are hungry for more in 2012. Topping the PRO theme category was the Mariners’ official front-office blog, From the Corner of Edgar & Dave. Rays Renegade maintained his hold on the top of the FAN rankings. Be sure to check all those blogs out to see why they are so popular, and start your own MLB.com Blog so you have a chance to make the April Latest Leaders while the month is early. OK, back to our games…

Opening Day – First Pitch

The reigning American League Most Valuable Player throws the first pitch of the day, 91 mph changeup for called strike, Red Sox @ Tigers, live on MLB.TV:

Justin Verlander

Be sure to check out the MLB.com digital guide to see how to get the most out of baseball and technology in 2012.

Thursday’s Opening Day schedule

Happy Opening Day. Here are Thursday’s Major League Baseball games, including the traditional opener in Cincinnati:

Away Home Time (ET) Away Probable Home Probable MLB.TV Tickets
Red Sox Tigers 1:05pm  Buy
Braves Mets 1:10pm  Buy
Phillies Pirates 1:35pm  Buy
Nationals Cubs 2:20pm  Buy
Blue Jays Indians 3:05pm  Buy
Marlins Reds 4:05pm  Buy
Dodgers Padres 7:05pm  Buy

Cardinals pick up where they left off

MLB.com Cardinals beat reporter Jen Langosch, who dominated the field in the MLB.com Blogs Latest Leaders rankings for March that we will be posting in the next day, wrote this in her post on Opening Night in Miami:

  • There was plenty of oohing and ahhing over the unique new park during Tuesday’s workout. Not today. For those in red, this is game No. 1 of 162. That’s it. Asked if there would be a different feel to the night given all the pregame ceremonies and build up in Miami, starter Kyle Lohse might have put it best: “It’s another game. Pitching in the World Series last year, that’s different.”

There was plenty of evidence of that, as Lohse shut down the Marlins and spoiled their opener, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning and settling for an impressive 4-1 decision. The defending world champs picked up where they left off, with David Freese driving in the decisive runs on a two-run single [WATCH video] in the first and collecting three hits.

Pretty fantastical opening ceremonies at new Marlins Park, which is getting rave reviews so far, especially if you like bright green. Not so sure about Jose Feliciano’s rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” … at least we think that was the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Really didn’t sound anything like it. There will be many more National Anthems to come in Miami and they’ll go up from there. No doubt our fellow MLB.com Blogs voice Ozzie Guillen will expect the host’s performance to do the same.

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