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Sergio Romo to make first start after 588 relief appearances

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According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays will give Sergio Romo his first major league start Saturday, though the plan is to have him work just the first and maybe part of the second inning.

The key here is that the Rays are facing an Angels team that stacks a bunch of right-handers at the top of the lineup. Shohei Ohtani pitches Sunday, so he’s probably not going to start Saturday. The other two lefties the Angels play fairly regularly, Kole Calhoun and Luis Valbuena, have both struggled and are hitting in the bottom half of the order. The Angels could move someone up in response to the Rays starting Romo, but the Rays probably wouldn’t care overly much. If the Angels use their normal lineup, Romo would face Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton and, if necessary, Albert Pujols in the first.

The plan is for lefty Ryan Yarbrough to relieve Romo, perhaps to start the second or the first time a lefty is due up. Yarbrough has started his last three times out and could pitch as many as 5-6 innings in relief against the Angels.

Romo, who broke into the majors with the Giants 10 years ago, has made 588 relief appearances without a start. He has made a few one- and two-inning starts in rehab appearances in the minors through the years, but he was last a regular starter in A-ball in 2006.

Cubs acquire Martín Maldonado from the Royals

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Last night Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was placed on the injured list with a strained muscle in his right foot. That injury inspired the Cubs to go out and get another catcher. They acquired Martín Maldonado in a trade with Kansas City in exchange for lefty Mike Montgomery, in a deal that was announced after the Cubs loss to the Reds.

Maldonado, 32, was a Gold Glove winner in 2017 with the Angels. At the moment he’s hitting .227 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 74 games. Obviously, though, defense is his calling card, as he’s a .220 career hitter with 57 homers and 210 RBIs in 686 games.

Montgomery, 30, is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs this year. He’s heading back to where his pro career began. He was drafted by Kanas City in 2008, though he was traded away in the James Shields/Wade David/Wil Myers deal in 2012. He made his big league debut for Seattle in 2015. Dayton Moore said last night that the Royals plan to use Montgomery in the rotation as a replacement for Homer Bailey, who was dealt to Oakland on Sunday.