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Saturday March 28th, 2020 4:55AM

LEADING OFF: Kimbrel warming, Giolito hot, Ohtani vs Kikuchi

By The Associated Press
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A look at what's happening around the majors Saturday:

GETTING GOING

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel is expected to report to the Cubs' training facility in Mesa, Arizona, as he ramps up after finalizing a three-year contract with Chicago on Friday that guarantees him $43 million. Kimbrel was optioned to Triple-A, and the Cubs want him working back carefully following his extended free agency.

"We're not going to rush it," president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "It's going to be tempting to get him here as soon as possible, but we're trying to plan this thing the right way so that he can be in a position to succeed not just immediately but all the way through October."

ROYAL PAIN

Breakout White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito faces the Royals seeking his seventh victory in seven starts. Giolito (8-1, 2.54) ranks among the majors' best pitchers a year after giving up more earned runs than anybody in the big leagues. The former top prospect is 6-0 with a 1.03 ERA in his last six outings, including a May 28 start against Kansas City when he set a season high with 10 strikeouts.

NICE TO SEE YOU

Shohei Ohtani's first major league showdown with Yusei Kikuchi is on deck at Angel Stadium. The matchup would pit the AL Rookie of the Year from Los Angeles against Seattle's rookie left-hander. They faced each other five times in Japan's top league.

The 24-year-old Ohtani and the 27-year-old Kikuchi attended the same high school in Japan, but never played on the same team.

Ohtani, who isn't pitching this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, went into the weekend hitting .250 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. Kikuchi is 3-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 13 starts.

REMEMBER ME?

Yankees lefty CC Sabathia, who began his big league career with the Indians in 2001, makes his final scheduled start in Cleveland.

Before New York began its weekend series at Progressive Field, the 38-year-old Sabathia stopped into his favorite sandwich shop for an Italian sub and swung by his old house to visit neighbors — and their grown kids — he hadn't seen in a long time. Back in his old neighborhood in suburban Westlake, Sabathia was thrilled to find the outdoor basketball court his late father installed.

Sabathia (3-2, 3.61 ERA), who played eight seasons in Cleveland, will try for his 250th career win.

SET TO SWING

All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon could return to the Rockies' lineup to face the Mets at Citi Field.

Blackmon was activated from the injured list Friday after being out since May 24 with a strained right calf. He arrived in New York early in the day and didn't start the series opener.

Blackmon has reached base safely in 18 straight games. He's hitting .300 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in 46 games.

___

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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