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USA Today via Reuters

The warmth of the upcoming summer might be making the atmosphere a little romantic. The fact that it’s baseball season is just the cherry on top. However, that romantic feeling can’t cover the fact that dark clouds are hovering over most teams as we enter the Opening Day. After all, with multiple players missing this momentous occasion, it proves once again that nothing is certain about this beautiful sport.

Usually, the Opening Day is when celebrations officially start. Stadiums are filled with fans enjoying their favorite pastime with a beer in one hand and a hotdog in another. Watching your team’s biggest stars playing the ballgame while you’re chilling with your family – does it even get better than that? However, that happiness might be affected a little this year. With superstars like Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw set to miss the opening day, things are a little difficult. So while the hotdog gets prepared wouldn’t it be great to find out where the teams currently stand?

Justin Verlander and Kyle Bradish are not in the Opening Matchday Squads: A Tough Task for the Astros and the Orioles

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The Houston Astros came remarkably close to making back-to-back Fall Classics last season. They barely lost to the Texas Rangers in a seven-game series. So naturally the team had high hopes for the 2024 season. But things took a wrong turn when Justin Verlander entered the Pitchers and Catchers meeting with a shoulder issue.  Despite being 41, the 3x Cy Young winner’s importance to the Astronauts’ lineup cannot be understated. 

Still in positive news for them, the issues won’t make Verlander miss an extended period. But with a late April comeback on the cards, Verlander will miss the Opening Day. With the Astros set to face off against the New York Yankees in the opening week, that is a major blow for them. Similarly, the Baltimore Orioles will be facing the LA Angels without their young superstar.

Orioles’ Kyle Bradish put the entire league on notice last season. In his age 26 season, Bradish was voted 4th in the Cy Young race. While that was a huge positive for the young man, the mood changed quickly when he was diagnosed with a partial tear in his UCL. A surgery seemed like the worst-case scenario for the young pitcher but the O’s decided to use PRP shots on him instead. Since then Bradish has been on a throwing program and is expected to make a midseason return, effectively missing the Opening Day.

Sonny Gray and Nathaniel Lowe are still injured: Not the start the Cardinals and Texas Rangers wanted 

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Sonny Gray to a three-year, $75 million contract. They believed that he would become their ace and lead their pitching staff throughout the season. However, their leader is set to miss the Opening Day. Instead, veteran Miles Mikolas will be standing on the mound that day against the Los Angeles Dodgers. On the other hand, Gray has been put on a 15-day Injury List due to his hamstring issues.

While that is quite heartbreaking for the Cardinals, things aren’t better in Texas. The World Series champs – Texas Rangers are entering the season without Nathaniel Lowe. The Lone Stars will face off against the Chicago Cubs with everyone but their 1st baseman.  Lowe’s strained right oblique has put him on an injury list and he’s set to miss between three to four weeks of this season.  Not a good start for a team aiming to become the first back-to-back World Series winners since the Yankees in 2000.

Read more: Top MLB Teams Set for 2024 Disappointment With Opening Day 24 Hours Away

TJ Friedl looks doubtful for the Opening Day: Cincinnati Reds in big trouble

The Cincinnati Reds missed the playoffs by just two games last season. For a team that has just one postseason appearance since 2014, that gave them high hopes for 2024. Part of the reason for that great performance was their outfielder and leadoff hitter TJ Friedl. The hitter’s 18 homers and 136 hits proved game-changing for the team. Unfortunately, they’ll be battling the Washington Nationals on Opening Day without their superstar.

Just two weeks before the opening day, Friedl fractured his wrist while diving for a ball. While it is a non-displaced injury, the centerfielder will be sidelined till May. This season was already shaping up to be a tough one for the Reds after the Cubs and Cardinals strengthened their squad. However, this injury may have made it an even tougher road ahead for the Big Red Machine.

While these teams are set to suffer, things aren’t much better for others. The injury bug has bit nearly every franchise right before the Opening Day.

How the rest doing: Know the teams battling Injuries 

How can one talk about injuries and not mention the elephant in the room? The New York Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole’s elbow issues have effectively sealed him for at least a month. So that’s another star gone from the Opening Day. But things aren’t any better for their cross-town neighbors. 

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The New York Mets’ season was close to ending even before it began when Kodai Senga’s shoulder issues came to the forefront. While the ace took a PRP shot, he’ll still miss the Opening Day and much of April. Then there’s Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers who’ll be out at least till midseason to heal from his shoulder surgery. 

The Arizona Diamondbacks too will be starting the season without their star signing Eduardo Rodriguez. The $80 million pitcher’s left lat strain has effectively shut him down for some days. So as it stands, nearly every team has one or the other player in the injury list. However, as everyone knows, that isn’t anything out of the ordinary in baseball. 

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After all, Injuries are as common as finding a hotdog stand near your stadium. And as a great man once said, “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Read more: MLB Draft 2024: Can’t-Miss Prospects Atop Every Team’s Wish List