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Jeremy Hellickson is the Phillies’ Opening Day starter

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The Phillies have selected right-hander Jeremy Hellickson as their Opening Day starter, per a team announcement on Sunday. Hellickson is slated to start against the Reds on April 3, when the Phillies will open their season on the road in Cincinnati.

This marks Hellickson’s second consecutive Opening Day assignment with Philadelphia. After signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the club in 2016, he delivered some of the best results of his career, turning in a 3.71 ERA, 3.42 K/BB and 3.2 fWAR in 189 innings. He accepted a $17.2 million qualifying offer at the end of the year and is scheduled to hit free agency following the 2017 season.

Grapefruit League competition has not been nearly as kind to Hellickson, tabbing him with 26 hits and 18 runs over 18 innings pitched this spring. His shaky start to the year doesn’t appear to have compromised either his starting role or his Opening Day gig, however, especially considering that he’s the highest-paid player on the roster and has a fairly stable track record in regular season play.

The Reds have yet to announce their Opening Day starter, though it will likely come down to left-hander Brandon Finnegan or right-hander Scott Feldman.

Dustin Pedroia leaves game with a sprained left wrist

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Bad news for the Red Sox today. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was involved in a collision at first base with Jose Abreu of the White Sox. Pedroia stayed in the game at the time but was replaced by Josh Rutledge in the second.

The injury: sprained left wrist. Which, no, is not good, but there was some initial concern that he may have aggravated the knee which has been bothering him of late. They’ll no doubt provide an update after the game. As of now, the Sox lead the Sox 1-0 in the bottom of the third.

 

Brad Ausmus is not a fan of the Tigers’ schedule

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Everyone in baseball has a tough schedule. The season is a grind. Some teams, however, due to weather and happenstance, have stretches which are a tougher grind than others. The Tigers are in one of those right now.

Detroit played the Astros on Thursday night, and lost in a three-hour and thirty minute contest. It was a getaway day, er, night, and they didn’t get to Chicago to face the White Sox until the wee wee hours of the morning on Friday. Waiting for them: a double header which was to start at 4pm. The first game of it was rained out, though, so they woke up after a short “night’s sleep for nothing. Then the nightcap was delayed over an hour, giving them another late bedtime. On Saturday it was another double header, so it was another early wakeup and another long day at the park. And, of course, another day game on Sunday, before a flight to Kansas City.

This stretch has made Brad Ausmus grumpy. Here he was after Friday night’s late finish:

“Give some credit to the White Sox pitchers, give some credit to the schedule we have. We’ll try to get about 5 hours of sleep and come back tomorrow and play two more.”

He was particularly miffed at the scheduling of two doubleheaders in a row:

“You can’t control the weather but I think it would have been prudent to play the second game tomorrow in August,” he said. “That would have made a lot more sense to me.”

Ausmus did note, however, that it’s not the White Sox’ job to make a schedule that is convenient for their division rivals.

You can look at this in a few different ways. One one level, Ausmus is understandably upset about a particularly arduous stretch of games. On another level he’s probably trying to protect his players, who have looked flat, by changing the subject from their play to the schedule. On a different level, you could say that he’s making excuses for a team that is underachieving. And, of course, those three things are not mutually exclusive.

The thing is, though, that the Tigers have lost seven of ten, are five out of first place, four games under .500 and could conceivably leave their series with the Royals this week in dead last in the Central. Ultimately, extenuating circumstances like the weather and an unfortunate schedule don’t save a manager whose talented and highly-paid team struggles like the Tigers have. If they don’t turn it around soon, Ausmus could be hitting the bricks and the Tigers could be fixing to sell off and rebuild.