Theo Epstein on Dexter Fowler’s surprise with Cubs: “That’s Godfather sh–. Nothing will top that.”

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Dexter Fowler shocked everyone — including his Cubs teammates — when the previous report of his three-year, $35 million deal with the Orioles was negated and he finalized a contract with the Cubs on Thursday. It’s a one-year deal for $13 million with a mutual option for 2017. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman notes that Fowler had requested an opt-out clause in his contract with the Orioles and sought work elsewhere when they turned down the idea.

Fowler’s return to the Cubs was dramatic, as Gordon Wittenmyer reports for the Chicago Sun-Times. Manager Joe Maddon hinted that his players were about to have a “moment”, which didn’t give much away. Starter Jason Hammel said, “I thought for sure it was some circus animal or some weird magician.” It wasn’t a bad assumption, as Maddon has a reputation for bringing in some odd guests for his team.

Rather than a penguin or a python, members of the Cubs saw Fowler walked into the field with team president Theo Epstein. Catcher David Ross said he “didn’t know what to think” and wondered if Fowler had just come back to bid farewell.

The best reaction, though, was Epstein’s. Via CSN Chicago’s Kelly Crull:

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.