OAKLAND -- Opening Day is here and the Oakland Athletics couldn't be more excited to defend their American League West crown. The Oakland Coliseum is sold out and the fans have already started filing in.
The A's will be facing the Seattle Mariners for a club-record fourth year in a row. Oakland hasn't won on Opening Day since 2004, and they've failed to defeat Felix Hernandez three years in a row on the first game of the season.
Even with his recent track record against the A's, their hitters still can't wait to face him.
"He's one of the best out there and I enjoy going up against those guys," second baseman Eric Sogard said. "It's almost like you've got nothing to lose."
Sogard started the opener last season at third base, and is the only A's infielder that was in the lineup on that day. Defensively, the whole infield is different. The corner infielders, Brandon Moss and Josh Donaldson both established themselves as Major Leaguers last season.
"It's a little bit different situation than last year," Donaldson said. "I feel way more prepared with the experience I had last year. Everything is feeling pretty good. I'm just excited to be starting for this team because I feel we have a bunch of high caliber players here."
Moss agrees with Donaldson's sentiment. The A's first baseman hit .291 and 21 home runs after he was called up on June 6, last year. He is eager to prove that he is here to stay and not a flash in the pan.
"I think if people expect me to keep up the pace I was at last season, they will be severely disappointed," Moss said. "Not to say I'm not capable of it because I did it last year, but I know who I am. I know I'm not a 45-50 home run guys, but I know I am productive."
Donaldson and Moss are two examples of A's players that won't be taking anything for granted this season. They know a spot on the big league roster can be taken away as quick as it's given. Moss has played parts of six season in the majors, and parts of 10 season in the minors. Donaldson made the Opening Day roster last season and was later sent down before returning and finding success.
The A's may be the reigning champs, but now they are expected to succeed. They will have a bullseye on their backs. Nothing will be given to them.
"You have to put that away," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Don't think just because you're the defending western champs you can put your glove out there and it's going to happen again. We have to play with the same determination and fight."