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Washington Nationals Opening Day 2012: Nats open season in Chicago

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It all begins anew again for the Washington Nationals on Thursday, and for the first time, they've got their phenom on the hill to get it started.

Strasburg and the Nats travel to Chicago to open the 2012 season. (Photo: Associated Press)

The Nationals begin their eighth season in D.C. on Thursday as they visit the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, and they'll throw Stephen Strasburg right out to start game #1 of 162 this season.

Washington is looking to build off of their best finish since moving to the District after the 2004 season. A third-place finish in the ultra-competitive National League East in 2011 and a revamped pitching staff has the club and its fans looking toward being competitive well into September.

"It's not a time of building anymore," second baseman Danny Espinosa told the Associated Press. "This is too good of a team. There's too much talent here to lose."

Strasburg goes up against Cubs ace Ryan Dempster on Thursday. The Cubs also underwent a major overhaul during the offseason, starting at the top; the team lured Boston Red Sox executive Theo Epstein to the Windy City to help the club win its first World Series title since 1908.

First pitch is scheduled for 2:20 p.m.

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