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ESPN announces a Cubs and Cardinals-heavy Sunday night baseball lineup

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ESPN has announced a big chunk of its early season Sunday Night Baseball schedule. It’s a press release and promo thing — and no, I have no intention of including the corporate sponsor whose name has been applied to the name of the broadcast because they ain’t paying me to promote them — but it’s a reminder that the winter which officially begins today will end and spring will take its place.

You will not be shocked to hear that the Chicago Cubs, Cardinals and the New York teams appear a whole bunch of times. ESPN is in it to score ratings and dollars, so they’re going to, naturally, go with the teams that give them the best chance at good ratings. One person’s bias is another’s smart business sense. Sorry about that.

The sked:

Apr. 2:  Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals
Apr. 9:  Miami Marlins at New York Mets
Apr. 16:  St. Louis Cardinals at New York Yankees
Apr. 23:  Washington Nationals at New York Mets
Apr. 30:  Chicago Cubs at Boston Red Sox
May 7:  New York Yankees at Chicago Cubs
May 14:  Houston Astros at New York Yankees
May 21:  TBD
May 28:  New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates
June 4:  St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
June 18:  TBD
June 25:  TBD
July 2:  TBD
July 9:  Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians
July 16: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
July 23: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

Forgot to even mention ESPN’s clear “TBD” bias. Shameful.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.