Brandon Allen has beaten out Kila Ka’aihue to be the A’s starting first baseman, at least for their opening game of the season in Japan.
Ka’aihue is still in the mix for playing time, but Jane Lee of MLB.com reports that manager Bob Melvin was unimpressed with his defense and prefers Allen’s combination of power and fielding.
Allen has already been traded twice at age 26, going from the White Sox to the Diamondbacks for Tony Pena and then from the Diamondbacks to the A’s for Brad Ziegler. He’s struggled in a few brief big-league stints, but has a strong minor-league track record that includes a .286 batting average, .401 on-base percentage, and .555 slugging percentage in 253 games at Triple-A.
One of the few nice things about the A’s blowing up the roster on the way to what is likely a 90-loss season is that they can afford to give extended opportunities to guys like Allen and, in his case, might end up finding a quality hitter who can stick in the lineup for several years.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.
The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.
Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.