According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, Joe Mauer is back in the Twins’ starting lineup this afternoon against the Cubs. He’ll catch left-hander Scott Diamond and bat third against right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
Mauer has missed the last four games with a sprained right thumb, but it was never a major concern. He made it through batting practice yesterday with no issues.
Injuries and illness limited Mauer to just 82 games last year, but he has played in 52 of the Twins’ 56 games this season. The 29-year-old backstop is hitting .298/.407/.419 with three home runs, 25 RBI and an .826 OPS through 226 plate appearances.
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.