After numerous delays in his recovery from a bulging disk in his lower back Giants center fielder Angel Pagan is finally ready to come off the disabled list and is expected to rejoin the lineup Thursday.
Pagan hasn’t played for the Giants since mid-June, but appeared in a pair of minor-league rehab games at Triple-A to prepare for his return.
He was having a strong season before being shut down, hitting a career-high .307 with three homers, 11 steals, and a .767 OPS in 63 games. San Francisco has used Gregor Blanco as the primary center fielder in his absence, but the 33-year-old Pagan figures to take back the position and resume leading off.
The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.
The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.
Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.