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 ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -Jason Jennings grew up going to Texas Rangers games and watching Nolan Ryan pitch.
Now Ryan, the Hall of Famer and new team president, will be watching Jennings pitch the Rangers' home opener - and join him as the only Texas natives to do so.
``You take a lot of pride obviously if you grow up in Texas and you play for one of the Texas ballclubs,'' said Ryan, who started three home openers in old Arlington Stadium. ``The significance of an opener is everybody wants to really see their club get off on the right foot.''
After splitting an opening six-game trip against AL West foes Seattle and the Los Angeles Angels, the Rangers play their 37th home opener in Texas on Tuesday against the AL East leader.
No, not defending World Series champion Boston like last season, or even the New York Yankees. Instead, it's Baltimore (5-1), which carries a five-game winning streak into its first trip this season.
``I look forward to taking this group on the road to see if we can continue what we're doing here,'' said manager Dave Trembley, whose Orioles completed a four-game sweep of Seattle on Monday.
``We've already had our opening day, the season is already going,'' Kevin Millar said. ``We're going on the road trip.''
Jennings (0-1), the 2002 NL Rookie of the Year with Colorado, signed with Texas as a free agent after a miserable season (2-9, 6.45 ERA) with the Houston Astros that ended with surgery in August to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow.
After Jennings' first start in spring training for the Rangers, the 29-year-old Dallas native admitted being more nervous than he had been in a long time. Not only was he pitching for the first time since surgery, he was pitching for his hometown team.
This time, about a dozen family members and many friends will be there when Jennings pitches at Rangers Ballpark for the first time.
``It's going to be a fun day. Hopefully I can go out and pitch a good game and give our fans a good show,'' Jennings said. ``But, most of all, I hope we can give fans some hope and give them something good to watch from the first day out.''
Jennings pitched a team-high 17 innings in spring training, an indication that his elbow is healthy. He allowed only four earned runs (2.12 ERA) in spring training, the same amount he gave up over five innings on two home runs in losing his first start last week at Seattle.
``We felt like it was an injury that he should get over in time, but we knew it might be a building process. ... He's certainly on schedule, if not even a tick ahead,'' general manager Jon Daniels said Monday. ``For him to feel comfortable and let it loose and not be worrying about his arm, that's probably the biggest thing.''
Ryan took over as the Rangers' president just before spring training and instead of making wholesale changes has been in an extended evaluation of the team. He was encouraged by the opening trip against two teams picked by most as favorites in the AL West.
``This is a unique club,'' Ryan said. ``They're very close and they're on a mission to pull together as a ballclub and really try to win this year and make a statement that they are a good ballclub.''
Since winning the last of their three division titles in 1999, all coming after Ryan retired and before any of the current players were there, the Rangers have had only one winning season and haven't finished better than third place.
Ryan started the final home opener at Arlington Stadium in 1993, then pitched the final game there before retiring. He won that opener 3-1 over Boston.
Notes: Texas is 18-18 in home openers, and 6-8 at Rangers Ballpark. ... The Rangers didn't have a workout Monday. Manager Ron Washington instead let them have the day off, their first at home since before spring training. ... LHP Brian Burres is scheduled to start for Baltimore, his first this season. ... This is the first time the Orioles have been the opponent for a Rangers home opener.
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AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg in Baltimore and Ken Peters in Anaheim, Calif., contributed to this report.
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