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BC-BBO--Opening Day-The Latest

March 28, 2019
By The Associated Press

The Latest on opening day (all times EDT):

3:10 p.m.

Bryce Harper wore green Phanatic cleats as he jogged out of the dugout to a standing ovation when he was introduced for the first time as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Harper signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with the Phillies and hit third and played right field in the opener against the Atlanta Braves.

Harper walked into the ballpark wearing a black T-shirt that read “Phan Fiction” made by South Fellini that featured Philly mascots the Phanatic and Gritty in a “Pulp Fiction” homage. Fans slammed the website and caused it to temporarily crash, and by the time it was up, the shirt was sold out.

Harper fist-bumped fans as the Phillies walked through the outfield stands and onto the red carpet on the field for opening day festivities.

Fans brought signs that read “The Year of Bryce” and thousands more wore his No. 3 jersey.

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3:07 p.m.

Look who’s back.

Christian Yelich hit a three-run homer to center off Miles Mikolas in the third inning on opening day, giving the Milwaukee Brewers a 4-3 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The 27-year-old Yelich won the NL MVP award last year, helping Milwaukee win the NL Central for the first time since 2011. He hit .326 with 36 homers and 110 RBIs.

Mike Moustakas also went deep for the Brewers in the second.

St. Louis scored the first three runs of the game on consecutive first-pitch homers by Kolten Wong and Harrison Bader in the second. Wong connected after Dexter Fowler reached on a two-out walk, and Bader hit a drive deep to left.

— Jay Cohen reporting from Milwaukee.

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3 p.m.

Rocco Baldelli will make his major league debut as a manager for Minnesota, with one of his former bosses across from him in the opposing dugout.

The Twins are opening the season at home against Cleveland, the winner of three straight AL Central division titles. Baldelli played for Terry Francona, starting his seventh year as skipper of the Indians, with the Boston Red Sox in 2009.

Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, who hired Baldelli in Minnesota, worked in the front office in Cleveland for nine seasons. Francona raved about both Falvey and Baldelli before the game: “Those people have some fans over here.”

Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is taking the mound for the fifth straight opener for the Indians. The Twins are giving All-Star Jose Berrios his first such nod.

— Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis

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2:47 p.m.

Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is not in the lineup for Houston against the Tampa Bay Rays because of neck stiffness.

Correa said before the game that the injury is “nothing major” and that he hopes to be ready to play sometime before the end of the four-game, season-opening series that runs through Sunday at Tropicana Field.

Correa hit .239 with 15 homers and 65 RBIs in 110 games last season.

Aledmys Diaz is replacing him at shortstop and batting eighth in the opener.

— Fred Goodall reporting from St. Petersburg

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1:20 p.m.

Welcome to the Mets, Robinson Cano.

Making quite an introduction to his new team, Cano homered in his debut at-bat, taking Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer deep to center field on a 1-1 changeup in the first inning.

The two-out shot made it 1-0 for the visiting Mets.

Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, struck out the other three batters he faced in the opening inning of 2019 — including Pete Alonso, the first baseman making his major league debut.

Cano joined the Mets in a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Mariners that also brought closer Edwin Diaz to New York.

— Howard Fendrich reporting in Washington.

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1:15 p.m.

On a day when baseball teams look with hope toward the future, the Yankees and Orioles are putting some focus on the past.

The Yankees announced Thursday that they will wear a black armband on the left sleeve of their jerseys this season to honor former pitching coach and left-hander Mel Stottlemyre, who died in January at the age of 77.

The Orioles, meanwhile, are wearing commemorative patches with Frank Robinson’s No. 20 this season. The Hall of Famer died in February at 83 years old.

— Jake Seiner, reporting from New York.

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12:35 p.m.

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Corey Knebel says he will decide on the next course of action for his ailing right arm on Friday.

Knebel is sidelined with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He could have season-ending Tommy John surgery or try to rehab the injury.

Knebel says he is going to see team physician Dr. William Raasch on Thursday and “go from there.”

Losing Knebel for the year could be a big blow for Milwaukee, which leaned on its bullpen in its run to the NL Championship Series last October.

Knebel had 16 saves and a 3.58 ERA last season, plus a sparkling 0.90 ERA in nine playoff appearances. He was an All-Star in 2017 with 39 saves and a 1.78 ERA in 76 innings.

— Jay Cohen reporting from Milwaukee.

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12:30 p.m.

Post-Bryce life officially begins for the Washington Nationals.

He’s no longer in the outfield. He’s no longer in the heart of the lineup. He’s no longer in the clubhouse.

Until this opening day, Bryce Harper was a key component for the Nationals for seven years, making six All-Star teams, winning 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP honors.

Now he’s with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving as a free agent for a $330 million contract.

So on Thursday, it was 21-year-old rookie Victor Robles starting in center field against the New York Mets, not Harper. And 20-year-old Juan Soto, last year’s runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year, batting cleanup. And veteran utilityman Howie Kendrick’s No. 47 uniform hanging at the locker that had been home to Harper’s familiar No. 34.

Kendrick, as it happens, was not at Nationals Park, either, though. He’s starting the season on the injured list.

— Howard Fendrich reporting from Washington.

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12:25 p.m.

Bryce Harper will bat third and play right field when he makes his Philadelphia Phillies debut.

Harper signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with the Phillies and the 2015 NL MVP has stirred anticipation in town for opening day not felt in years. The ballpark parking lots started to fill up hours before first pitch and plenty of fans were in Harper gear. Harper has the sport’s top-selling jersey, ending a two-year reign for Aaron Judge’s No. 99.

Harper isn’t the only star in the Phillies opening day lineup against the NL East champion Atlanta Braves. The Phillies have nine All-Stars, two MVPs, one Cy Young Award winner and one Rookie of the Year award winner on the roster. The average age of the 25-man roster is 28.5.

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