No team lost more games in spring training than the champion San Francisco Giants, and hardly any pitcher struggled more than World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

So what? Throw out those stats – it’s time to play ball for real.

Come Monday, Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound, Mike Trout and David Ortiz will be at the plate, Max Scherzer and Pablo Sandoval will be on new teams.

“If you can play every day like Opening Day and get yourself up like you do for Opening Day, you’re probably going to have a good year,” said Giants Manager Bruce Bochy, whose club visits Arizona.

“That’s how we like to play every game, that it’s the most important game of the year. Opening Day is that day. It’s an important game. It probably helps set the tone a little bit.”

The 2015 season began Sunday night when Jon Lester, Joe Maddon and the fresh-look Chicago Cubs hosted Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals at renovated Wrigley Field.

Yet even before Paul Molitor becomes the latest Hall of Famer to try managing or Ortiz tries to stick in the batter’s box under Major League Baseball’s new pace of play rules, some stars have already emerged this year, such as David Mellor, Jason Griffeth, Derek Gauger and Jedi Saverse.

Never heard of ’em? They’re the full-time groundskeepers at Fenway Park and have gotten the diamond ready despite the snowiest winter in Boston since the city began keeping such records.

“I was never worried about getting ready for Opening Day,” said Mellor, director of grounds for the Red Sox. “The field is in great shape. It is looking better with each passing day.”

Across the Northeast and Midwest, ballparks were battered by a harsh winter. Blizzards, below-zero temperatures, sheets of ice and wicked winds made preparations even tougher.

Chalk this up to baseball’s good fortune: In Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, Kansas City and other places that endured a long winter, the forecast was for temperatures in the 60s and 70s on Opening Day.

Quite a contrast from a couple months ago.

At Fenway, up to 40 inches of snow blanketed the field at one point. Mellor and his crew used a half-ton of black sand, which absorbs heat and helps the melting process, to clear the snow. Boston was hit with more than 9 feet overall.

“When we had all the snow, I thought I’m glad we aren’t opening at home,” Mellor said. “But because of all the hard work of my co-workers, we are actually ready to play now.”

The Red Sox play Monday at Philadelphia. The home opener is April 13 against Washington.

Washington outfielder Bryce Harper was pleasantly surprised when he took his position at Nationals Park on Saturday for an exhibition vs. the New York Yankees.

The NHL held the Winter Classic at the ballpark on Jan. 1, and Washington was enveloped by frosty conditions.

“It feels fine. I thought it was great,” Harper said. “Someone was telling me that when the NHL does it, they actually have to re-do the whole field or something like that. So that was brand-new grass out there. It was beautiful. It played great.”

The Nationals host the New York Mets on Monday.

The Yankees are at home against Toronto. Pitcher Adam Warren was eager to see how well the grounds crew had done at Yankee Stadium.

“I know they’ve been working hard. The kind of weather that I’ve been hearing that New York has been having, for them to get it in great shape is pretty remarkable,” Warren said Sunday after a Yankees minor league intrasquad game in Tampa, Florida.


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