Because of left hamstring cramps, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips hasn’t appeared in a game since signing his six-year, $72.5 million contract extension early last week. But that will change Sunday in the nation’s capital.
According to the Reds’ official Twitter account, Phillips is batting leadoff and starting at second base this afternoon against the first-place Nationals.
Phillips, 30, is off to a 4-for-16 (.250) start this year.
He batted .300/.353/.457 with 18 home runs, 82 RBI and 14 steals last season while playing his usual brand of elite defense at second base.
No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.
Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.
Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.