LEADING OFF: Red Sox get rings, Puig gets new nickname
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
The Red Sox are set to receive their 2018 World Series rings ahead of their home opener at Fenway Park. Boston plans to unveil a championship banner, and ceremonies will include a flyover by four F-16 jets prior to the first pitch. The club will sport gold-trimmed hats and jerseys, as well. One member of last year’s team who won’t attend is Craig Kimbrel. The All-Star closer and current free agent declined an invitation.
The 2019 season hasn’t been quite so sparkling. Boston returns from a season-opening West Coast swing 3-8, and the starting pitching has been especially suspect. Chris Sale (0-2, 8.00 ERA) faces Toronto in the home opener. His fastball has averaged 90.7 mph over his first two outings, down from 95.4 mph last season.
EL GUERRERO ROJO
The Reds have lost eight straight since an opening day victory, a skid they’ll try to end against the Marlins. Cincinnati went 30 innings between runs during one stretch, though the offense has scored 10 times over the past two games. The team has still shown some fight — or at least Yasiel Puig did during a bench-clearing fracas with Pittsburgh on Sunday. Images of Puig trying to take on the entire Pirates team — on a day when Pittsburgh wore its bright yellow throwback uniforms — went viral immediately, and fans are already printing them on T-shirts featuring a new nickname for the Cuban slugger — “El Guerrero Rojo,” or The Red Warrior.
Jacob deGrom (2-0, 0.00 ERA) is back on the mound for the first time since striking out a career-best 14 against Miami last week. His Mets take on Minnesota at Citi Field. The NL Cy Young Award winner has 24 strikeouts over 13 innings this season, extending the NL’s longest active scoreless streak to 26 innings and his record stretch of starts allowing less than four runs to 31. He also hit a homer against the Marlins.
While the Yankees play in Houston, ace Luis Severino is back in New York for more tests on his injured right shoulder. Manager Aaron Boone says Severino isn’t where he wants to be and the team wants an examination to determine why he isn’t progressing as expected. Severino was supposed to start on opening day but has been out since he was scratched with right shoulder inflammation from what would have been his first spring training appearance on March 5.
The Tigers take a five-game winning streak into a series with Cleveland, the AL Central favorite. Detroit’s pitching has been excellent, with its starters posting a 2.02 ERA through 10 games. Veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 0.66 ERA) gets the ball against Indians ace Corey Kluber (0-2, 5.23) having allowed just eight baserunners in 13 2/3 innings over two starts. Zimmermann pitched one-run ball into the seventh inning against the Yankees last time out. Cleveland has won four straight, but its offense entered Monday ranked 26th in the majors with 30 runs and 29th with a .535 OPS.
ERVIN BACK EARNIN’
Ervin Santana is set to make his first start with the White Sox after signing a minor league deal in February. The 36-year-old right-hander made just five starts last year due to complications following offseason hand surgery. He was excellent for Minnesota the two seasons prior to that, and Chicago hopes he can be a stabilizing influence on a rotation featuring young pitchers Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. Charlie Morton (1-0, 1.64) is the scheduled starter for Tampa Bay.