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Original Issue

Leading Off

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PHOTOGRAPH BY FRED VUICH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Into the Swing A baseball season can begin in many ways: good (Toronto's Marcus Stroman threw an eight-inning gem to beat the Rays), bad (the Brewers matched their franchise record for Opening Day runs allowed in a 12--3 loss to the Giants), and ugly (bad weather delayed the game in Baltimore and nixed them in Cleveland and the Bronx). Pirates rightfielder Gregory Polanco gets his own category: sweet. The 24-year-old (left) went 2 for 3 in a win over the Cardinals on Sunday and the next day signed a five-year contract extension worth at least $35 million. Not a bad start.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY ED ZURGA GETTY IMAGES

Trophy Life The Royals raised their World Series banner at Kauffman Stadium, admired the trophy once more, and then went out and started the season the same way they ended the last one: by beating the Mets. (MLB had coincidentally scheduled an Opening Day rematch of the Fall Classic.) K.C. won 4--3 on Sunday, doing nothing to discourage their fans' hopes that after enduring a 30-year drought before last season's championship, the wait for the next one will be much shorter.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY PHOTOGRAPHER DALE ZANINE USA TODAY SPORTS

Built to Blast Generally Mr. April is not a term of endearment around the batting cage, but Bryce Harper has earned the title for the best of reasons. On Monday he launched the fourth Opening Day home run of his career (in four openers)—a shot off the Braves' Julio Teheran in his first plate appearance of the season. You were wondering how Harper would follow up his 2015 NL MVP performance? After one day the answer was: quite well.

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JOHN BAZEMORE/AP

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