Toronto's Jimmy Key is scheduled to throw the first pitch of the 1987 baseball season today, the first time Opening Day has started outside the United States.
Tim Raines, Bob Horner, Rich Gedman and Ron Guidry, all of them unsigned free agents, are among the missing as the season begins. There still was a question of whether major league umpires will work or go on strike as contract talks continued Sunday night.
Rain and temperatures in the mid-40s are forecast at Exhibition Stadium, where the Blue Jays will entertain the Cleveland Indians and Tom Candiotti at 9:35 a.m. PDT. A crowd of more than 30,000 is expected to watch the two American League East challengers.
About 90 minutes later, the traditional National League opener at Cincinnati will match the Montreal Expos and Floyd Youmans against the Reds and Tom Browning.
The Reds' game used to be the first game to start, and the switch caused a Cincinnati councilman to write letters of complaint to Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and Secretary of State George Schultz.
In other AL openers today, the New York Yankees will send Dennis Rasmussen to the mound at Detroit to face the Tigers' Jack Morris; The Texas Rangers, with Charlie Hough pitching, will play at Baltimore, where the Orioles will start Mike Boddicker; the Chicago White Sox, with Rich Dotson on the mound, will go against the Royals and Danny Jackson at Kansas City, and the Boston Red Sox, with former reliever Bob Stanley starting, will take on the Brewers and Teddy Higuera at Milwaukee.
In the NL, the San Diego Padres, with Eric Show on the mound, will play at San Francisco, where Mike Krukow is the Giants' starter, and the Dodgers, behind Orel Hershiser rather than Fernando Valenzuela, will face the Houston Astros and Mike Scott at night in the Astrodome.
"There will be a lot of hoopla and a lot of excitement for guys on our club," new Milwaukee Manager Tom Trebelhorn said. "It's exciting to be playing the Red Sox. I'm sure there will be some palpitations."
A crowd of 53,000 is expected at Milwaukee, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
Stanley will pitch for Boston in place of Roger Clemens, the the American League's Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner last season, who ended a 29-day holdout Saturday.
"Everybody will be gunning for us, starting with Milwaukee," Boston Manager John McNamara said.
At Detroit, Morris will be pitching against one of the teams that spurned him in his off-season search. Morris, 21-8 last season and the winningest pitcher in the majors during the 1980s, became a free agent after the 1986 season and wanted to join either the Yankees, the Minnesota Twins, the Philadelphia Phillies or the Angels, but he was turned down by each team.
Morris wound up going to salary arbitration and winning a contract for $1.85 million.
Rasmussen (18-6) will start for New York in place of Rick Rhoden, acquired from Pittsburgh during the winter. Rhoden suffered strained rib-cage muscles during spring training and may not pitch for another week.
"Rick deserved to be the Opening Day pitcher, but this probably works out better for us in the long run," Yankee Manager Lou Piniella said.
Rasmussen, a left-hander, will be followed by lefty Tommy John in the series at Detroit.
"Our guys have a terrible time against left-handers," Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson said.
Ueberroth is expected to attend the opener at Candlestick Park, where the Giants will begin their 30th season in San Francisco.
Teams that do not play today will open Tuesday. The World Series champion New York Mets, with Bobby Ojeda starting in place of Dwight Gooden, who is in drug rehabilitation, will face the Pittsburgh Pirates and Bob Patterson at Shea Stadium; the St. Louis Cardinals and John Tudor will be at Chicago, going against the Cubs and Rick Sutcliffe, and Philadelphia, starting Shane Rawley, will take on the Braves' Rick Mahler at Atlanta.
In Tuesday's AL openers, the Seattle Mariners will send Mark Langston against the Angels and Mike Witt at Anaheim Stadium, and the Oakland A's will have Curt Young on the mound against Minnesota and Bert Blyleven at Minneapolis.