By Ron Kaplan, contributor

Welcome back, faithful readers.

The baseball season is upon us. Not only is this the earliest Opening Day in history, it’s the first time all 30 teams have debuted on the same day.

So without further ado…

The JML (Jewish major leaguer) roster to start the 2018 season includes:

  1. Richard Bleier, P, Baltimore Orioles
  2. Ryan Braun, OF-1B, Milwaukee Brewers
  3. Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros
  4. Ian Kinsler, 2B, Los Angeles Angels
  5. Joc Pederson, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
  6. Kevin Pillar, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
  7. Danny Valencia, Utility, Orioles

Still hanging on for a possible roster spot:

Players who had MLB playing time in 2017 but are starting 2018 in the minors include:

In addition, Scott Feldman — who was 7-7 for the Cincinnati Reds in 2017 — remains a free agent.

A few notes: Braun will spend some time playing first this year, at least when facing certain lefties. Kinsler, of course, begins the year with a new team and might begin it on the bench due to an injury. And Gabe Kapler, helming the Phillies, gets his first shot as a manager.

The big surprises — to me, at least — were Fried, Valencia, and Pederson. The Braves were considering using Fried as part of their rotation, but he begins the season in the minors. Valencia signed with the Orioles and made it to the opening-day roster. And Pederson, who’s had his ups and down, was looking at not being in LA when the bell rang, especially given his poor spring. Also, I have a soft spot for the ivy league-educated Breslow, so I hope he makes it back soon. Lavarnway was an invitee to the Pirates’ camp and did not make it.

No surprise that Bregman is the new big deal.

Hope I didn’t miss anyone.

Ron Kaplan (@RonKaplanNJ) hosts Kaplan’s Korner, a blog about Jews and sports. He is the author of three books, including The Jewish Olympics: The History of the Maccabiah Games and Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War.

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