LEADING OFF: Many happy returns to MLB mounds

Sports

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco delivers during baseball practice, Monday, July 6, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

A look at what’s happening around the majors Sunday:

OHTANI’S TURN

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is set to make his first appearance on the mound since Sept. 2, 2018, after not pitching all last season following elbow surgery. Ohtani is under no restrictions when he faces the Athletics in Oakland.

“It’s a little mix of everything, some worries, some excitement,” Ohtani said through a translator. “There won’t be fans so that will be weird, too.”

Ohtani was the Angels’ designated hitter in the season opener Friday night and didn’t play Saturday.

Mike Fiers will start for the A’s in his first appearance since revealing to The Athletic in November that his former team, the Houston Astros, had stolen signs using a camera in center field during their run to the 2017 World Series championship.

COOKIE’S BACK

Carlos Carrasco’s inspirational comeback reaches another milestone as the Indians right-hander makes his first start since May 30 last season, shortly before he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Carrasco will face the Kansas City Royals in the finale of a three-game series in Cleveland. Despite undergoing medical treatments that kept him away from the club, Carrasco was able to return last season and made 11 relief appearances. He wanted to start again, however, and secured a spot in Cleveland’s rotation this spring.

The 33-year-old Carrasco understood he might be at greater risk this season because his immune system has been compromised due to the disease. But after talking to his family and Cleveland’s medical personnel, he felt comfortable enough to play.

KLUBER’S LONG ROAD

Two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber makes his first major league start in 15 months when debuts for the Texas Rangers at home against the Colorado Rockies.

Kluber’s last big league start was for Cleveland on May 1, 2019, when he suffered a broken right forearm struck by a comeback liner in Miami. He hurt an oblique during rehab and never started again for Cleveland, which traded him to Texas in December.

“Not really thinking about how long it has been since I pitched,” the 34-year-old Kluber said.

Kluber won 20 games for Cleveland in 2018, capping a five-year stretch with at least 203 innings pitched and 222 strikeouts each season. He went 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA in 208 games with Cleveland.

“I don’t really try to compare now to last year or a few years ago,” Kluber said. “I feel I am in a good spot right now. I don’t think that’s something you carry over. It takes work each day to maintain it and that’s how I go about it.”

WAITING ON STRASBURG

The Washington Nationals are waiting to see how World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg reacts to an injection to help his right hand heal. He was scratched from what was supposed to be his first start of the season on Saturday night because of a nerve issue.

Nationals manager Dave Martinez announced about four hours before the scheduled first pitch against the visiting New York Yankees that Strasburg would be replaced. He said Strasburg, a right-hander who was bothered by the wrist and thumb of that hand, was given an injection — “basically a cortisone shot” — for pain that’s bothered him since last week.

NEW GUY IN NEW YORK

Rick Porcello makes hits Mets debut at night against Atlanta at Citi Field. He won the 2016 AL Cy Young Award with Boston and went 14-12 last season. Porcello signed a $10 million, one-year deal with New York in December. Left-hander Sean Newcomb goes for the Braves in the nationally televised game.

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