LEADING OFF: Trout returns, Cubs try to start turnaround

BY AP • July 14, 2017

A look at what's happening all around the majors today:



Baseball is back, and so is Mike Trout. The two-time AL MVP is set to return to the Angels lineup after missing 39 games because of a torn ligament in his left thumb. Los Angeles opens the unofficial second half against Tampa Bay, which took three of four from Boston before the All-Star break to get within 3 1/2 games of the AL East lead. Jacob Faria (4-0, 2.11) has been among the best rookie pitchers this season, striking out 37 over his first 38 1/3 big league innings. Tampa Bay is 5-1 in games he's started.


The Cubs won't get to show off new pitcher Jose Quintana just yet, but they are back in action against Baltimore and looking to get on track following a disappointing open to the season. Chicago hopes Quintana, acquired from the White Sox in a blockbuster trade Thursday, can aid an aging rotation, but first it will turn to Mike Montgomery (1-6, 3.75) against the O's. The Cubs are 43-45, well behind their 53-35 mark through 88 games last season, when they ended a 108-year World Series drought.


Indians manager Terry Francona will be back on the bench a week removed from a procedure for an irregular heartbeat. Francona says he's feeling better, though ''a little tired, but that'll come.'' The 58-year-old was supposed to manage the AL during Tuesday's All-Star Game, but instead rested after dealing with dizziness, fatigue and a rapid heart rate before the break.


The AL East-leading Red Sox are set to host the second-place Yankees for four games. Boston's charge to the top of the division before the break was fueled largely by Chris Sale and Mookie Betts, but scheduled starter Drew Pomeranz (9-4, 3.60) has also been excellent. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in his past five starts entering the series opener with New York. For the Yankees, Aaron Judge returns from his dominant All-Star Home Run Derby championship with a chance at an AL MVP/Rookie of the Year sweep.


Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom takes on Colorado righty Jon Gray in a battle of well-coifed hurlers. DeGrom (9-3, 3.65) has been excellent for a New York rotation beset by injuries, winning five consecutive starts behind a 1.62 ERA. Gray (2-0, 3.75) missed over two months with a stress fracture in his left foot this season, but has won both his starts since recovering. And of course, both pitchers have rocked shoulder-length hair, although Gray is still growing his back out after he chopped off eight inches for charity in April.


Gio Gonzalez tries to snap an unlikely skid for himself when the NL East-leading Nationals face the Reds. Gonzalez (7-4, 2.86) has lost three straight starts despite a 2.37 ERA over that stretch. The steady left-hander had gone eight starts without a loss prior to this streak.


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