The MLB season is finally underway, as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers led off the season in Australia for the season opener. Though most teams won’t start their regular season for just about two weeks, it’s good to see games that finally count for something,.

For most teams, however, there are still position battles being decided, and injuries being fought through for the players that are in those battles. In the last week of Spring Training, the tensions could not be higher, but the story lines seem to write themselves.

The Regular Season Is Underway

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the MLB regular season is finally underway, as the Diamondbacks took on the Dodgers in Australia to kick off the season.

With Patrick Corbin out, the D’Backs turned to Wade Miley to handle the front end of the rotation. He struck out eight hitters, but he ended up allowing three runs in 5 1/3 of an inning, so the performance left a bit to be desired. As an expected number two starter, though, Miley did enough to appease Diamondbacks fans and make them believe that they’ll be able to move on with Corbin.

As for the Dodgers, they had a former Cy Young winner on the bump. Clayton Kershaw had one of the more impressive seasons since the Bob Gibson era last year, and he kept that going despite a horrific spring. He threw 6 2/3 innings with one run and seven strikeouts, so it seems as if he was able to figure out the flaw that he had in his previous starts.

It is clear that the Dodgers have a strong half of their rotation from the work that Kershaw, Zack Grienke, and Hyun-jin Ryu showed throughout the season last year, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to try to outscore them.

Pitcher’s Safety Debate Ignites

Two incidents from this past week have brought up the age old debate of pitcher’s safety, as Aroldis Champman of the Reds and Matt Moore of the Rays both got hit with line drives in their head.

It was especially frightening in the case of Chapman, as he uncorked a 99-mile per hour fastball that came back and hit him in the face, and it ended up requiring doctors to put in a metal plate. Luckily, neither player lost consciousness at any point, and in Moore’s case he was able to walk off of the field by himself.

While it doesn’t happen all that often, the fact remains that with pitchers throwing harder than ever, this could become tragic at some point. In Chapman’s case, the ball was estimated to be coming at him at around 112 miles per hour, so he had absolutely no chance to defend himself, which is the problem that many players are facing.

While there have been discussions of implementing a padded hat, these two instances proved that that wouldn’t have helped at all, because they got hit in the fact, which would be uncovered regardless. Thus far, I haven’t really heard a viable solution to this problem, and given the rarity of these occurrences, I don’t think we’ll see any major changes in the foreseeable future.

Spring Training Battles Starting To Wrap Up

With Spring Training coming to a close, many managers around the league have started to declare the winners and losers of their team’s position battles. Everyone from the Baltimore Orioles to the Los Angeles Dodgers have made their decisions, and some of those have sparked some controversy.

Starting out in Tampa Bay, the Rays tabbed youngster Jake Odorizzi for their number five spot in the starting rotation, beating out former Cy Young candidate Erik Bedard in the process. After losing out in this competition, it is expected that Bedard will ask for his release and look for employment elsewhere.

The Minnesota Twins chose a talented young arm for their number five spot, too, as they decided on former top prospect Kyle Gibson over the under performing Vance Worley and lefty Samuel Deduno. With the rest of the youth that’s on this team, the choice of Gibson is probably the correct one.

The one that made the biggest waves and will more than likely have the biggest impact is from Texas, where Ron Washington decided to hand the closing duties to Joakim Soria over Neftali Feliz, who’s coming off of Tommy John surgery. Soria has quite a bit of experience at the end of games, as he has tallied 160 Saves in his 6 years in the league.

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Brian Rzeppa is an avid follower of the Cubs, and of Major League Baseball in general. You can find his basketball-related work at Sheridan Hoops, and you can follow him on Twitter @brianrzeppa.