LEADING OFF: 6 teams off Easter Sunday, Ohtani debuts arm
A look at what’s happening all around the majors Sunday:
If Sunday’s schedule looks a little odd, well, it is. Six teams are idle – Milwaukee-San Diego, Colorado-Arizona and Philadelphia-Atlanta played their series finales on Saturday.
The Braves opted to have Easter Sunday off, rather than Friday. The Braves said it will be the franchise’s first scheduled Sunday off-day in a season since May 21, 1933, when the Boston Braves were in Pittsburgh but didn’t play because of Pennsylvania’s religious-based ”blue laws” that dated to 1794.
The Padres said they requested Easter Sunday off because it traditionally has been a tough ticket. Manager Andy Green said he planned to spend it with his family.
”I can’t think of a time I had Easter off,” he said.
Shohei Ohtani makes his much-anticipated debut as a big league pitcher when the Los Angeles Angels visit Oakland. The two-way star from Japan went 1 for 5 at the plate as a designated hitter during his first game in the majors. The 23-year-old righty had a rough time on the mound in spring training, and wound up working on back fields.
Gerrit Cole starts out for Houston, joining a potent rotation that includes Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. The World Series champions acquired him from Pittsburgh in the winter. The 27-year-old righty went 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA last season, and the Astros hope he can regain the form that made him an ace. He’ll pitch at Texas.
Nelson Cruz became the latest Seattle player to get injured – and it was bizarre. The slugger twisted his right ankle when he slipped on the dugout steps following his home run against Cleveland on Saturday at Safeco Field. X-rays were negative, but Cruz will have an MRI on Sunday. Cruz wore a protective boot postgame.
”When I heard that, I wanted to throw up,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”I really don’t know any other way to put it. Our club has just battled through a bunch of nagging injuries here in spring training and early in the season here.”
Billy McKinney joined Yankees outfielders Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier on the disabled list after spraining his left shoulder Saturday. McKinney crashed into the scoreboard chasing a ball in Toronto, a day after making his major league debut. The injury reminded some of Dustin Fowler – during his big league debut last June, the Yankees right fielder slid into a side wall, wrecked his knee and missed the rest of the season. Fowler never got to bat, and was later traded to Oakland.