Tagged in: opening day

Ian Happ gets 3 hits as Cubs beat Brewers 5-4 on opening day

Ian Happ offered Nico Hoerner some friendly advice after he hit the majors’ first homer of 2022.

“Keep hitting more,” Happ cracked. “Yeah, try not to get cold after that.”

It was that type of opening day for the Chicago Cubs.

Happ had three hits, including a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning, and the Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Thursday.

Hoerner hit a two-run homer and Kyle Hendricks pitched neatly into the sixth, leading Chicago to the triumph on a chilly, overcast afternoon at Wrigley Field. Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki reached three times and scored in his first big league game.

“Who had Nico in the first homer pool?” Cubs manager David Ross joked after the win.

On a day stuffed full of firsts and debuts, Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes and catcher Omar Narváez became the first battery to use baseball’s new electronic pitch-calling system in a regular-season game. The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner permitted three runs and four hits in five innings.

“Never really actually found the command of the cutter,” Burnes said. “Kind of one of those things, I found it a little bit in the third, but then I just kind of lost it.”

Suzuki singled in the fifth for his first big league hit and walked twice. The 27-year-old finalized an $85 million, five-year contract with Chicago in March in the Cubs’ biggest move of the offseason.

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“In all my at-bats I was able to be myself,” Suzuki said through a translator, “so just enjoyed the game today.”

Andrew McCutchen, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez each had two hits for Milwaukee, and Lorenzo Cain drove in two runs. McCutchen served as the designated hitter in his first game with his new team after agreeing to a one-year deal last month.

The Brewers erased a 3-1 deficit with two runs in the seventh, but the Cubs went ahead to stay in the bottom half.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Happ hit a drive off Jake Cousins that caromed off the wall in center. Clint Frazier and Willson Contreras scored on Happ’s second double of the day.

Happ, who homered on baseball’s first pitch of the 2018 season, had elbow surgery in February, but he is feeling pretty good now — about himself and his team.

“Burnes starting Game 1, to be able to kind of put up some runs there and then get a few more and tack on, that says a lot for where we’re at as a team,” Happ said.

The reigning NL Central champions got one back on Cain’s sacrifice fly in the eighth, but David Robertson worked the ninth for his first save since 2018 and No. 138 for his career.

Milwaukee went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

“It felt like a game, we didn’t time our hits very well,” manager Craig Counsell said.

Aaron Ashby (0-1) got the loss. He was charged with one run and three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Making his third consecutive opening-day start, Hendricks permitted one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who had a career-high 4.77 ERA last year, struck out seven and walked three.

Chris Martin (1-0) got two outs for the win in his Cubs debut.

The Brewers jumped in front when McCutchen singled and scored the majors’ first run on Cain’s groundout in the fourth. But the Cubs responded with three in the fifth.

Patrick Wisdom hit a sacrifice fly before Hoerner drove a 1-1 pitch from Burnes into the bleachers in left for a tiebreaking two-run shot. It was Hoerner’s first big league homer since Sept. 21, 2019, against St. Louis.

“Sometimes it just lines up,” a smiling Hoerner said.

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Aaron Judge to receive extension offer from New York Yankees, ‘pencils down’ by Opening Day, GM Brian Cashman says

New York Yankees star slugger Aaron Judge will soon get a proposal for a long-term contract extension, general manager Brian Cashman stated Saturday.

“Between now and opening day we’ll make an offer and he’ll obviously receive an offer and all the conversions will have taken place and will either resolve into a multiyear deal or it won’t,” Cashman said.

“We’re committed. We’ll make an offer and hear what he has to say in response and then it will be pencils down before opening day,” he said.

The Yankees open on April 7 at home versus the Boston Red Sox.

Judge said Saturday he was “pretty sure” he doesn’t want to negotiate a new contract during the regular season. The outfielder, who turns 30 next month, is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series.

“We haven’t decided yet, but for right now that’s what we’ve got,” Judge said. “I want to be here. Get a chance to play here for quite a few more years, that would be great. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not too worried.”

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The Yankees and Judge so far have failed to reach a deal for 2022, which could result in the two sides heading into arbitration during the season. He asked for a raise from $10,175,000 to $21 million, and the Yankees offered $17 million.

“Our position has always been, we wind up only in a hearing if we’re dragged there,” Cashman said. “We only go when forced to go. We’re not afraid of going. Our history shows that we stay out of that arena unless we’re compelled to get there. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Judge, who hit .287 with 39 homers and 98 RBI in 148 games last season, hopes an agreement can be reached to avoid arbitration.

“Go back and forth until we, maybe, can settle on something before the court date and if not, we’ll see each other in court,” Judge said.

Judge said the contract talk isn’t a distraction. “Not really, I’m a baseball player,” he said.

“I’m going to come out and do my usual on the field. I’ve got people that are going to worry about the other stuff for me and put me in the right position and give me the right answers. If I take care of what I’ve got to do on the field, everything is going to workout.”

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Kyle Hendricks to once again start on Opening Day for Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs manager David Ross selected Kyle Hendricks to start on Opening Day last year, and it worked out quite well.

He sees no reason to make a modification this year.

Ross announced Tuesday that Hendricks will get the ball when the Cubs start the season versus Pittsburgh on April 1 at Wrigley Field. The right-hander tossed a three-hitter in a 3-0 triumph over Milwaukee on Opening Day last summer.

“I feel like we’ve got a lot of talent,” Ross said. “I feel like Kyle, his resume, his leadership, his poise, all that goes into being the Opening Day starter, just the extra, kind of, pomp and circumstance that goes with Opening Day, especially this coming year as well, every arrow points to Kyle.”

Ross said he wasn’t ready to announce the order for the rest of his starting pitchers. Chicago also has Jake Arrieta and Zach Davies, and Trevor Williams, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay and Shelby Miller are in the mix for the last two spots.

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But there is no question about the leader of the rotation, especially after the Cubs traded Yu Darvish to San Diego in December.

The 31-year-old Hendricks, known for his precision, control and professor-like demeanor, is making his second Opening Day start.

He went 6-5 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 starts during the pandemic-shortened season, helping Chicago win the NL Central.

The opener versus the Pirates will be the first match at Wrigley with a crowd since Sept. 22, 2019. The Cubs have been cleared for as many as 8,274 fans per game at the beginnig of the season.

Hendricks has been a steady presence for Chicago since his big league debut in 2014. The Dartmouth graduate is 69-48 with a 3.12 ERA in 175 career games.

He had his best year in 2016, going 16-8 with a major league-low 2.13 ERA. Hendricks, an eighth-round pick in the 2011 amateur draft, was acquired by Chicago in the July 2012 trade that sent Ryan Dempster to Texas.

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Boston Red Sox name Eduardo Rodriguez their Opening Day starter

A year after a bout with COVID-19 denied him an opportunity to be the Boston Red Sox’s Opening Day starter, Eduardo Rodríguez is getting a do-over.

Manager Alex Cora made the declaration Wednesday following Boston’s 9-1 spring training victory over the Minnesota Twins. Rodríguez threw an efficient 55 pitches, striking out six and giving up two hits and one earned run over five innings.

“Indeed, it’s going to be Eduardo. He’s one of the best out there,” Cora said of the left-hander. “He had a great season in ’19. Last year, he wasn’t able to pitch for obvious reasons. What he’s shown now, he’s healthy and he’s ready to go. … It was just a matter of time.”

Boston opens its calendar April 1 versus the Baltimore Orioles. Rodríguez went 13-5 for the Boston team that won a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series in 2018. He went into the next year at the bottom of the rotation behind Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.

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But Rodríguez had the best season of the group, going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA to finish sixth in American League Cy Young voting. He made his major-league-leading 34th start on the final day of the season with a chance at 20 wins but did not figure in the decision. Still, he finished with career bests in wins, ERA, starts, innings (203⅓) and strikeouts (213).

With Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery, Rodríguez was in line to start on Opening Day in 2020 before testing positive for the coronavirus and being diagnosed with inflammation in his heart muscles.

He said he couldn’t even complete a 25-pitch workout without feeling tired; on Aug. 1, just one week into the season, he was shut down for the year.

After putting the extended rest and recovery time to good use, he said he’s ready to take advantage of a chance he has yet to have during his five major league seasons.

Speaking prior to Cora naming him the starter, Rodríguez told reporters he would be honored to get the ball in the opener.

“If given the opportunity, I’m going to be so happy to do it because that’s something that everybody wants to do one time in their career,” he said.

“If I have the opportunity this year, I’m going to really appreciate it. I’m going to love it.”

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NFL to release regular-season schedule Thursday

The NFL will release its regular-season schedule on Thursday night, the league reported Monday, as it continues conducting business mostly as usual amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The schedule will be disclosed in a three-hour telecast on NFL Network starting at 8 p.m.

Thus far, the league has not announced any major updates to its schedule as a result of the pandemic, which has brought most organized sports around the globe to a halt. NFL training facilities are closed because of the pandemic, leading to the league’s first-ever “virtual offseason,” but the league still plans to start the campaign on time while playing in teams’ home stadiums.

Opening day for the 2020 season is Sept. 10, with the season set to finish with Super Bowl 55 on February 7, 2021. The NFL also held last month’s draft on time while canceling all in-person events. The draft had been set for Las Vegas; instead, Commissioner Roger Goodell announced picks from his home.

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Should the pandemic force major changes to the season, the league is considering alternatives including empty stadiums, neutral sites and getting rid of bye weeks, league executive Troy Vincent told The Associated Press last week. Any such changes would have to be approved by the players union.

Earlier Monday, the NFL announced it was moving its five matches scheduled for London and Mexico City this season back to U.S. stadiums.

The league has evaluated contingency plans should the pandemic intensify, working in conjunction with the NFL Players Association and medical experts on a set of protocols.

The league is evaluating when players can re enter team facilities. The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to keep buildings closed until every state in which a team resides lifts its stay-at-home mandate. Teams are conducting organized team activities virtually.

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Yankees´ Aaron Judge “frustrated”, hopes to play Opening Day

As the “car wash” of testing continues to determine the cause of discomfort in Aaron Judge’s right shoulder and pectoral area, the Yankees slugger expressed frustration with his situation on Thursday, but said that he is not ready to rule out being ready for the March 26 campaign opener versus the Orioles.

“The goal is always to be ready for Opening Day,” Judge stated. “You only need about 30 at-bats to get ready for the season. I’ve still got plenty of time for that. If I don’t get them here [in Grapefruit League games], I can go on the back field or go across the street [to Minor League camp] to get those at-bats. We’ve just got to get answers first.”

Judge said that he is continuing to experience issues in both his right shoulder and right pectoral area. After arriving at the Yankees’ Minor League complex in late January, Judge initially shut down his on-field hitting due to the shoulder issue. He resumed throwing at distances of up to 120 feet, but the pectoral injury occurred during indoor hitting versus coaches last week.

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General manager Brian Cashman has repeatedly declined to state the specific tests that Judge has undergone, though he is known to have had at least one MRI.

On Wednesday, Cashman estimated that Judge has been sent for somewhere between seven and 10 tests.

“The first thing is, we’ve got to get what it is,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated. “What we’re dealing with, what the prognosis is, what’s the course of action? I know we get wrapped up in Opening Day and is he going to be [ready] — I don’t know. I want to know what we’re dealing with, and hopefully have a timeframe in place that, ‘OK, this is how long it’s going to be before he’s back doing anything.’ And then we’ll be able to better make those evaluations.”

Though Cashman said earlier this week that he considers it unlikely to have Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Opening Day lineup, Judge said that he later approached Cashman to clarify that conversation, and that Cashman told him he was speaking specifically about Stanton.

Judge played in 155 games during his 2017 American League Rookie of the Year Award campaign, hitting an AL-leading 52 homers and concluding second in AL Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Injuries have limited him to 228 of a possible 338 games in the last two years: 112 regular-season games in ’18 and 102 last season, plus 14 postseason games over that span.

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