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The beauty of MLB Opening Day

Updated: March 31, 2013, 11:33 AM ET
By Buster Olney

HOUSTON -- The guy who is the No. 2 starting pitcher for the Houston Astros, a team expected to lose a lot of games this summer, stood in the Houston dugout Saturday and talked pitching with former pitchers Orel Hershiser and Steve Sparks.

Well, let's rephrase that. The word talked doesn't really do justice to Lucas Harrell. With great passion, what he really did was articulate, advocate, enjoin, dictate, concede, commend and most importantly, he inquired, of Hershiser and Sparks. He listened, with even more energy than when he spoke, absorbing what he was told and repurposing it for his own use.

Harrell discussed his cutter grip, and the challenge of finishing a breaking ball instead of casting it. Without realizing it, he ran through a personal oral history of pitch sequences to B.J. Upton and a half-dozen other big league hitters he has faced -- the count, the pitch selection, the thought process, the chess match, the execution. He talked about how he gives signs to the catcher when the hitter's not looking. He talked about what he's seen in Mariano Rivera, Greg Maddux and others.

In those few minutes, Harrell inadvertently provided a reminder of why Opening Day is so great. Seven hundred fifty players -- the 25 on each of the 30 rosters -- will seek solutions, as Harrell does. Some might have less ardor than Harrell, but they begin today with the hope of change for the better, hope of improvement, hope for a breakthrough.

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