LEADING OFF: Knebel’s decision, Morton faces former team
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
DAY OF DECISION
Corey Knebel plans to choose a course of action on his ailing right elbow, potentially sidelining a key part of Milwaukee’s vaunted bullpen for the season.
The 27-year-old has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He could have Tommy John surgery and return at some point next year, or try to rehab the injury.
“I’ve got all the cards on the table, and it’s just, ‘Which one?’” Knebel said Thursday.
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.
Charlie Morton, who won Game 7 of the 2017 World Series for Houston shortly after winning Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, faces his former team. Morton went 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA for the Astros last season, then became a free agent and signed a two-year deal with Tampa Bay. He will oppose Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.88 ERA last year) at Tropicana Field.
“There’s an element of emotion attributed to this start that wouldn’t be there if I was pitching against a team that I didn’t know on a personal level,” the new Rays right-hander said. “Whether or not it’s a challenge or a benefit, I don’t know.”
The Dodgers set a major league record by hitting eight home runs on opening day against Arizona, and try to keep up the power surge vs. Diamondbacks lefty Robbie Ray.
Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez each connected twice at Dodger Stadium as the team tied the franchise mark for homers in any game. Ray looked sharp in spring training, striking out 32 in 16 1/3 innings.
Nathan Eovaldi throws his first pitch that counts since a Herculean effort for Boston in the World Series. Last October, he made relief appearances in the first two games against the Dodgers and then, after one day of rest, worked into his seventh inning and threw 97 pitches in Game 3, giving up a winning home run in the 18th. Eovaldi, who’d had two Tommy John surgeries, was saluted by the Red Sox for saving the bullpen and putting them in position to wrap up the title.
Eovaldi was rewarded with a $68 million, four-year deal. He’ll start at Seattle against Yusei Kikuchi, who pitched well last week in becoming the first Japanese-born player to make his big league debut in his homeland.
Matt Harvey makes his AL debut when he starts for the Angels against the A’s at the Coliseum. Harvey, the former Mets ace who helped reboot his career last summer in Cincinnati, signed an $11 million, one-year deal with Los Angeles in December.
Harvey will face Athletics slugger Khris Davis, who led the majors with 48 home runs last year. Davis homered on opening day last week in Japan and connected again Thursday in a win over the Angels.