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Braves bring back A.J. Pierzynski on one-year pact

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As first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Braves have reached agreement on a one-year free agent contract with veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski. It’s a $3 million deal, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

Pierzynski was brought to Atlanta last winter to serve as a backup and mentor to youngster Christian Bethancourt, but the 38-year-old wound up grabbing the starting job when Bethancourt struggled and he finished with a respectable .300/.339/.430 batting line along 436 plate appearances.

Bethancourt still has a lot of work to do offensively, and this one-year deal with Pierzynski can take some of the pressure off. The 24-year-old defensive-minded backstop hit .200/.225/.290 in 160 plate appearances this past season for the cellar-dwelling Braves.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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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.