From Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette comes word that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips is out of the starting lineup again for Sunday’s series-finale against the Pirates.
Wilson Valdez will get the nod in his place, batting seventh against Bucs right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Phillips hasn’t started a game this month due to a left calf strain that he suffered near the end of July. But he is still expected to avoid the 15-day disabled list and should return at some point early this week.
The 31-year-old is hitting .296 with a .793 OPS, 13 home runs and 62 RBI in 92 games this season.
Cincinnati has the best record in baseball and leads Pittsburgh by 5 1/2 games in the NL Central standings.
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.