It's Oswalt on Opening Day, as usual.

For the eighth straight season, Roy Oswalt will be the Opening Day starter for the Astros. Manager Brad Mills made the announcement on Saturday.

"Any time you can go first, it's nice," Oswalt told the Houston Chronicle. "We still have five guys, and this year, I'm hoping we can get five guys and stick with five guys and have a little competition among ourselves.

"In '04 and '05, we had five guys that competed against each other, and that made it a lot easier."

The announcement was a formality considering his status on the club and the way he's pitched. Oswalt has allowed no runs on three hits in six innings of work this spring.

"He's thrown the ball so well all spring long," Mills said. "He's been healthy, he's gone about his business the way a No. 1 guy should, and he's thrown the ball like a No. 1 guy should."

Maybin in form after dealing with injury: Cameron Maybin is making up for lost time. A groin injury sidelined him earlier this spring, but the Marlins center fielder hit two home runs on Saturday and followed that up with another two-hit game on Sunday. Overall, Maybin is batting .389 in Grapefruit League play.

"The leg feels good, man. A lot of good rehab work and lot of maintenance definitely helped," Maybin told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I don't feel any tightness, so that is a good thing."

"I just tried to keep my mind sharp," Maybin said about the layoff. "Stay prepared even though I wasn't on the field."

Lincecum makes progress with fastball location: Tim Lincecum worked on his command during an outing against the Giants' Double-A affiliate on Saturday. Lincecum pitched 5 2/3 innings, throwing mostly fastballs. He walked five and struck out six.

"I'm just going based on the feedback off my body," Lincecum told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Today, if I threw nine innings, I'd still feel good. I could have thrown more. I still have my energy up. Right now, what they keep emphasizing for me is fastball location, which I need to focus on."

Tomko reaches out to victim's family: San Diego County has been rocked by the tragedy of Chelsea King, a 17-year-old whose body was found after she went missing while jogging. To show support to her family, Brett Tomko brought Brent and Tyler King, her father and brother, into the Oakland clubhouse.

"I think it hits home when you're that close to it," Tomko told the Oakland Tribune. "You almost feel a little attacked yourself when you're living four miles from that trail."

The Kings are baseball fans and had a trip to Phoenix planned to attend Spring Training before the tragedy occurred. Tomko gave them a tour of the clubhouse and introduced them to members of the team.

Stairs keeping up on the basepath: With the Padres running wild this spring, Matt Stairs figured he would get in on the action. The 42-year-old recently swiped a base in a spring game, one of six the team stole on the day.

"Probably the only reason I stole that base was because everyone else was doing it," Stairs told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "The way these guys run the bases and the way they approach the game, I gotta catch myself sometime. I gotta remind myself that I'm not that age anymore."

Wainwright reaches high-water mark for Cardinals: Adam Wainwright became the first Cardinals pitcher to throw five innings this spring. He didn't allow a run in his outing on Saturday.

"It's the first time I've trusted my delivery and mechanics," Wainwright, who struck out six and allowed three hits, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "My focus was right where it needs to be, and I let it go. I pitched without regret."

Tommy John surgery forces Nathan out for 2010: After tearing his right ulnar collateral ligament earlier this spring, Joe Nathan and the team confirmed he will undergo ligament replacement surgery and miss the 2010 season.

"It didn't go like we hoped," Nathan told MLB.com. "We knew it was a long shot, but what this did do is clear my head. There was definitely no gray area. Definitely was on the black side, where it didn't go as well as we like, and we know now we're going to have to go in and get some surgery done, get this thing fixed up."

Routine a key to Byrd's success: Marlon Byrd, like many players, feels most comfortable when he sticks to a routine.

"It's just over time, finding a routine, picking something from all the guys I've come up with," the Cubs outfielder told MLB.com. "My rookie year, I came up with Jim Thome, Jose Mesa, Billy Wagner, Dan Plesac, Rheal Cormier, Tim Worrell. I started picking things from all those guys I played with, all the veterans over the years."

Santana holds 'fond memories' of Twins tenure: For the first time since being traded in 2008, Johan Santana faced his former Twins teammates on Friday. Santana said he has fond memories of his time in Minnesota.

"I had a great time over there," Santana told the New York Daily News, referring to his tenure with the Twins. "It was great seasons over there. It always seemed to me, and to everybody, they always find a way to play the game the right way and find the right guys to fill in. Sometimes you think about, 'What if you would have had all those guys from those years that I was there all together and add what they need to?' We would have had a pretty good chance to win it all. But that's not the case right now. I'm here, and I'm very happy to be in New York and working my way up."

Silva anxious for mother's arrival: Carlos Silva was thrilled that his mother got a visa and was on her way to visit him in Phoenix.

"I'm going to be 31 years old in April," Silva told MLB.com, "but it's hard for me to be away from my [mother]. To be honest, when it's been time to come to Spring Training the last couple years and I knew she didn't have a visa, it's been brutal for her and for me. It's like the end of the world for her. Finally, she's coming."

Howell likely to miss a month: J.P. Howell will miss the start of the regular season due to a tired shoulder. With Howell out of the mix for now, it will force Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon to restructure his bullpen.

"He's a tough one to replace, I'm not denying that," manager Joe Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. "I don't know exactly how we're going to do it yet, because he's that big of a part of what we are doing here."

Howell will likely miss the first month of the season.

Street gets positive news on shoulder: The Rockies and Huston Street were relieved on Friday when an MRI showed no structural problems with Street's right shoulder. The tests showed that he only has inflammation.

"Good news," Street told the The Denver Post. "Everything in the shoulder is structurally sound. Was I nervous? Well, there's a reason they're doing it. It's a huge relief. Anything up in the shoulder or elbow and you get bad news, you're talking months and months as opposed to weeks."

Street will not be ready for the start of the regular season and will stay in Tucson for extended Spring Training while the rest of his teammates will head to Milwaukee for Opening Day. The target date for his return is mid-to-late April.

For now, Liriano in starting mode: Despite speculation that he might be used to close games, Francisco Liriano is preparing as a starter.

"We said, 'We're getting you ready to start the season as one of our starters, Frankie,'" manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com. "That's all it is. If there is any decision made otherwise, we would go talk to him or anybody else we decided to do that with before we tell anybody else. We're preparing him to be a starter."

Manzella to miss a week with injury: Tommy Manzella will likely miss one week of action due to a right quadriceps injury suffered on Saturday while trying to beat out a double-play grounder at first base. The Astros shortstop landed on the bag a little awkwardly, limped back to the dugout and was immediately removed from the game.

"[Trainer] Nate [Lucero] said we're probably looking at a week to 10 days," general manager Ed Wade told the Houston Chronicle.

Harris continues to keep goals high: Willie Harris will play an important role in right field for the Nationals, but he still feels he should be a full-time player.

"In my heart, I'm an everyday player," Harris told the The Washington Post. "In my contract, that's not who I am. In their eyes, that's not who I am. That's fine. I love where I'm at. I love what I'm doing for a living. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else. But at the same time, I would love to play a lot more. That's not how it goes sometimes."

"He just finds his way into the lineup," manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's a comforting guy to have on a ballclub. We really like the role that he fills for us."

-- Red Line Editorial