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Sunday December 16th, 2018 8:08AM

LEADING OFF: Reyes returns to Cards, Scherzer seeks No. 9

By The Associated Press
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A look at what's happening around baseball today:

FIXED WING

Alex Reyes is set to return to Cardinals for the first time since his brief-but-stellar rookie season in 2016. The hyped right-handed prospect missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery and he'll come off the DL to make his season debut against NL Central-leading Milwaukee. Reyes struck out 44 in 23 innings during his minor league rehab assignment, including nine straight batters during his final start with Triple-A Memphis — a first in the 116-year history of the Pacific Coast League.

CLOUD NINE

Max Scherzer tries to become the first nine-game winner in the majors when Washington takes on Baltimore. Scherzer (8-1, 2.13) has won seven straight decisions, including when he gave up four runs in six innings to Miami last time out. Scherzer entered Tuesday leading the majors in strikeouts (108) and wins above replacement (2.8), according to Fangraphs.

BACK ON THE BUMP

Shohei Ohtani will return to the mound for the Angels in a game at Detroit. The two-way Japanese sensation had his usual turn Sunday skipped as Los Angeles tries to manage his workload. Ohtani (4-1, 3.35) threw 110 pitches against Tampa Bay in his previous start — his most in America so far — and has a 2.25 ERA in three May starts.

SORE THOR

Jason Vargas, and not Noah Syndergaard, will start for the Mets in the finale of a series at Atlanta. Syndergaard was placed on the 10-day DL on Tuesday with a sore right index finger, though the Mets are hopeful he will only miss one start. The team is also hoping for good news on Steven Matz, another starter who left Tuesday's game with discomfort in the middle finger of his left hand.

EOVALDI RETURNS

Rays right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is set for his first major league start since 2016 in a game against Oakland. Eovaldi had one of baseball's hardest fastballs before needing a second Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss all of last season. He's taking the roster spot of reliever Jamie Schultz, who struck out the side in the seventh inning on 14 pitches in his major league debut Tuesday. Schultz was sent back to Triple-A.

GETTING CHECKED

Astros catcher Brian McCann has left the team to return to Houston after being placed on the 10-day DL with right knee soreness. McCann is in a 1-for-26 slide and batting .219 on the season, and he reported soreness to manager A.J. Hinch during a game Monday at Yankee Stadium. Hinch said McCann was set to be evaluated further in Houston while the team finishes its series in New York. The Astros' Dallas Keuchel (3-6, 3.39) will face Luis Severino (7-1, 2.28) in the series finale.

THE PAST IS PRESENT

The annual Rickwood Classic will be held in Alabama when the Birmingham Barons host the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Double-A Southern League. Opened in 1910, Rickwood Field is the oldest ballpark that continues to operate with pro ball in the United States. The Barons play one game a year at the park, which was the longtime home of the both the Barons and the Birmingham Black Barons — featuring the likes of Willie Mays and Satchel Paige — of the Negro Leagues. Babe Ruth swing away in exhibition games at Rickwood and Reggie Jackson played there when the Barons were an A's farm team. For the Rickwood Classic, the teams wear throwback uniforms and the outfield walls are often covered with old-timey ads. This year's game salutes the 1950s, when the Barons were a Yankees affiliate for a few years — Bucky Dent, who hit a famed 1978 playoff homer for the Yanks, is set to throw out the first pitch.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP Sports - Major League Baseball, AP Sports - Minor League Baseball
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