SEATTLE (AP) _ Ace pitcher Kevin Millwood pulled the hood of his blue Rangers sweatshirt over his head. Then he pulled the drawstrings so tightly only his mouth, nose and eyes poked through.
Charlton Jimerson, Seattle's late position player to make the team Sunday, stood in front of the Mariners dugout wearing a blue knit cap far below his ears — and spoke for them all.
"A little frio," the outfielder said Sunday, exactly a year to the day after the Houston Astros cut him.
"But I'll take it."
The Rangers and Mariners will take the rare, late-March snow in Seattle they saw Saturday night upon their return from spring training in the Arizona desert. Will take temperatures that were in the upper 30s when they stepped on the field for workouts late Sunday morning — and the expected game-time temperature of 46 degrees when they begin the season Monday afternoon, too.
The teams that have a combined zero playoff appearances out of the AL West in the last six years are feeling the renewing powers of opening day.
"I think after last year everyone came back and worked harder in spring training and were in better shape," Millwood said of these Rangers, compared to the 2007 team that finished Texas' sixth losing season in seven years.
"I think we've got a better clubhouse going, where we're all working together."
Ron Washington, beginning his second season as Texas' manager, thinks a healthier pitching rotation — Millwood says he is past his hamstring problems from early in camp — and the additions of Milton Bradley, Josh Hamilton and Ben Broussard to the lineup means a new day in Rangers baseball will dawn Monday.
He can't fathom a 10-15 April or a 9-20 May, the months that doomed Texas to last place in '07.
"I don't feel we'll play as terrible of baseball this April and May," Washington said. "I don't think our top two starters will get off to such bad starts. I don't think our best players will get of to such bad starts.
"I think we're better in that way."
Or, as Millwood said of the Rangers' renewed vibe: "Guys aren't going their own way anymore. Everyone's going in the same direction."
As in up. From 0-0, with 162 games to play. And from spring trainings that were either meaningless or, in the case of Seattle's new ace Erik Bedard, forgettable.
Bedard, whom Seattle acquired for five players in a trade with Baltimore last month, will make his second opening day start opposite Millwood.
It's Bedard's chance for renewal, too, after an unsightly 8.63 ERA and nine home runs allowed in six spring starts.
Are his problems meaningless history?
"I hope so," Mariners manager John McLaren said, chuckling. "They are."
"He had trouble gripping the ball in Arizona, like everybody else. … He's ready. I'm expecting a huge game from him."
Bedard lives just outside Ottawa and spends his winters there. He may feel like he's at home — in January — on Monday. Forecasters expect a first-pitch temperature of 46 degrees, which would tie the coldest opening day in Seattle history, from 2001.
The Mariners hope that's an omen. That season ended with an AL-record 116 wins and Seattle's last postseason appearance.
Now the Mariners have bolstered their rotation with Bedard and Carlos Silva, signed for $48 million from Minnesota. That has Seattle thinking this is the year they and their $115 million payroll finally break through.
"We are looking to show people we are the best in the West," McLaren said on the eve of his first opening day as a major league manager after 21½ years as a coach.
"We are looking for a big year."
Notes:@ As expected, Seattle's final roster move to get down to 25 players was placing RHP Anderson Garcia on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 21. He's been bothered all spring by shoulder tendinitis. … Texas placed RHP Brandon McCarthy, expected to be in its rotation, on the 60-day DL with a forearm strain. He can be reinstated on May 29. "We wanted to make sure that when he gets back nothing flares up so we can have him for the long haul," Washington said of the extended DL choice. … The Rangers purchased the contracts of RHPs Franklyn German and Jamey Wright and C Adam Melhuse from Triple-A Oklahoma. They also placed RHP Luis Mendoza on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 24 and March 21, respectively.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.