DETROIT — J.R. Graham isn't sure if he can hit 99 mph with his fastball yet, not in April. But "I feel like I'm back," he said Monday. "I feel back to normal, like when I was throwing my best."

It's that pitching arm, with a repaired shoulder, that got him here today, and the 25-year-old Californian can hardly believe it. It's Opening Day, he's in the major leagues, and he'll make his debut sometime this week.

"You grow up dreaming about this. Being on the biggest stage — it's pretty surreal," Graham said as he prepared to take part in pregame festivities at Comerica Park. "There were plenty of points in my career where I was wondering if this was the right decision. I'd usually just sleep on it, I'd get back to the stadium, or to rehab, and I'd realize how much I love this game. I'd never give it up for the world."

Paul Molitor feels that sort of passion today, too, though he's trying to contain his emotions as his first game as manager approaches. Molitor conducted a defensive positioning meeting with his players this morning, filled out his first lineup card, and tried to describe what he's feeling ahead of today's noon CDT game with the Tigers.

"There's something about the old cliches: It's the renewal of a new season, the slate is clean. You have a chance to make your own mark," Molitor said. "That's what Opening Day signifies. We love our game, we have a lot of passion for our game, and it's time to get baseball back on the map."

He'd like to get the Twins back on the map, too, after four straight seasons of 92 or more losses. And he's pretty confident that his team is being underestimated.

"I'm comfortable with the people we're playing, I'm certainly comfortable with Phil Hughes on the mound, and I think that helped me rest a little easier," Molitor said. "I don't think [the Twins players] are paying a lot of attention to what prognostications are, and what people are saying our team is capable and not capable of. They're very focused and they're ready to compete. It's a transition here for us, including myself, but I think everyone is ready to go."

The field is being readied in Detroit, with temperatures expected to reach 50 degrees by first pitch. Here are the lineups for the Minnesota Twins' 55th Opening Day:


Danny Santana SS

Brian Dozier 2B

Joe Mauer 1B

Torii Hunter RF

Kennys Vargas DH

Trevor Plouffe 3B

Oswaldo Arcia LF

Kurt Suzuki C

Jordan Schafer CF

Phil Hughes RHP


Rajai Davis CF

Ian Kinsler 2B

Miguel Cabrera 1B

Victor Martinez DH

J.D. Martinez RF

Yoenis Cespedes LF

Nick Castellanos 3B

Alex Avila C

Jose Iglesias SS

David Price LHP