Saturday May 21st, 2022 8:21AM

Opening Day in MLB: New No. 21 patches, NL DHs and Guardians

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Andrew McCutchen got the first hit of the year, up against the still-dormant ivy at Wrigley Field. He delivered as a National League designated hitter. Wearing a Roberto Clemente No. 21 patch, too.

A little later on opening day, Nico Hoerner hit the first home run of 2022. He connected off a pitcher who used an electronic wristband to receive his signals from the catcher.

Soon after that, in another yard, the Cleveland Guardians took the field for the first time.

New season, and definitely a new look all across Major League Baseball.

And if the weather wasn't quite summer-like in some spots Thursday, well, who cares?

“It might be cold, it might be windy. But it’s opening day," Cardinals fan Mary Welsh of Belleville, Illinois, said at Busch Stadium before St. Louis hosted Pittsburgh.

Out near Disneyland, where temperatures neared 100 degrees, AL MVP Shohei Ohtani flashed his 100 mph heat and took his swings for the Los Angeles Angels.

Late night in Phoenix, after Padres starter Yu Darvish threw six no-hit innings, rookie Seth Beer cracked a three-run homer in the ninth to give Arizona a comeback win on National Beer Day in the United States.

No joke.

In Atlanta, the Braves celebrated their World Series championship with a pregame parade. At every ballpark, umpires started to get their say — this year, they've joined referees from other sports in announcing replay review decisions to the crowd.

As seats filled up in rainy Washington, chilly Kansas City and more, it seemed fans decided the 99-day owners' lockout that delayed spring training and pushed back opening day by a week wouldn't deter them from coming back.

Wearing an Ernie Banks jersey, 23-year-old Philip Lijewski from Guthrie, Oklahoma, enjoyed the view at Wrigley as the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers loosened up. He said the anger and acrimony over the labor strife didn't dampen his enthusiasm for the game.

“Not really,” Lijewski said. “I’m glad that they came to a conclusion sooner rather than later. I was bummed that we didn’t get to do it April 4. But it’s April 7, so not too many days after.”

More than eight months after announcing a new change, Cleveland played its first regular-season game as the Guardians. Known as the Indians since 1915, the club made the switch in the interest of social justice.

Cleveland wore its road uniforms for the game in Kansas City, with the city name on the jersey.

“Supporting the city is what it comes down to,” star pitcher Shane Bieber said a day before the opener. "Going out there with my teammates, doing it the right way is really all we can do. It was a little bit different getting used to the change, but I’d say we’re all getting used to it day by day.”

Plenty of stars from other sports were at Kauffman Stadium to see top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. and the Royals beat the Guardians 3-1. Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid and several of his players were in attendance, as were members of the Kansas basketball team, which rallied past North Carolina in the men's NCAA championship game Monday night in New Orleans.

A strong wind made it seem much colder than the game-time temperature of 47 degrees, and intermittent drizzle turned to streaking pellets of ice during the national anthem.

After earlier rainouts at Yankee Stadium and Target Field, the Brewers-Cubs game became the first one of the season.

It was a raw 44 degrees when Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks threw the first pitch, which Kolten Wong lofted for a wind-blown popout.

McCutchen sliced a double in the second inning for the season's first hit, then singled and scored in the fourth for the first run. The 2013 NL MVP, the 35-year-old McCutchen was Milwaukee's designated hitter.

As part of the MLB labor deal, the National League has now permanently adopted the designated hitter — the American League began using it in 1973, and the NL added it for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before going back to letting pitchers hit last year.

Before the Cubs batted in the bottom of the third, the videoboard in left field showed a clip dedicated to pitchers hitting with Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” serving as the soundtrack.

“Thank you pitchers. See you in a pinch,” it said at the end.

McCutchen is among several active Roberto Clemente Award winners who will wear No. 21 — the number worn by the late Pirates Hall of Famer — on the backs of their hats and helmets for the rest of their careers.

MLB said it was a “special tribute to his enduring legacy.” The announcement was timed for the 50th anniversary of the year in which Clemente, the Pittsburgh great from Puerto Rico, died in a plane crash while on a humanitarian relief effort.

“It’s a privilege. An honor," said Nationals slugger Nelson Cruz, the most recipient of the Clemente award. “He means so much for baseball, in general. He was an example to follow – how to be professional, on and off the field. A remarkable player and a remarkable human being who lost his life trying to help others.”

“He paid the ultimate price, and whatever we do is not enough," he said.

Hoerner launched the first homer, a two-run drive for the Cubs off NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. Brewers catcher Omar Narváez and Burnes used the newly approved electronic pitch calling system — Narváez could push a button on his wristband to signal what he wanted thrown, without fear of wiggling his fingers and having the sign stolen.

Not that Hoerner needed any help, apparently.

“Who had Nico in the first homer pool?” Cubs manager David Ross kidded after the 5-4 win.

In St. Louis, Tommy Edman's drive became the first play that resulted in an umpire announcing the result of a replay check.

“After review, the call is confirmed. Home run,” crew chief Jim Reynolds succinctly told the gleeful Cardinals crowd.


AP Baseball Writer Jay Cohen, AP Sports Writers Tom Withers and Dave Skretta and AP freelance writer Steve Overbey contributed to this report.


More AP MLB: and

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP Online Football, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - Major League Baseball, AP Sports - NFL, AP Sports - Men's College Basketball
© Copyright 2022
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Opening Day in MLB: New No. 21 patches, NL DHs and Guardians
It's opening day in Major League Baseball and a new season has brought a new look
8:38PM ( 10 minutes ago )
US speeds entry for Ukrainians as more reach Mexico border
The United States has sharply increased the number of Ukrainians admitted to the country at the Mexican border as even more refugees fleeing the Russian invasion follow the same circuitous route
8:37PM ( 11 minutes ago )
NCAA Frozen Four: Denver beats Michigan 3-2 in overtime
Carter Savoie scored with 14:53 gone in overtime to lead Denver past Michigan 3-2 in the Frozen Four semifinal and into the NCAA championship game
8:23PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Cam Smith's hair is flappable, his game is not at Masters
Australian Cameron Smith overcame a pair of double bogeys to put himself in the mix after the first round of the Masters
7:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Ian Happ gets 3 hits as Cubs beat Brewers 5-4 on opening day
Ian Happ had three hits, including a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on opening day
7:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
Masters notebook: Matsuyama, as host, merited high praise
Hideki Matsuyama is a Masters champion and apparently a master host
6:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
McCutchen 1st hit of MLB season, as NL DH, with No. 21 patch
Andrew McCutchen of the Milwaukee Brewers has gotten the first hit of the 2022 Major League Baseball season
4:04PM ( 4 hours ago )
World Series champion Braves set roster for title defense
The World Series champion Atlanta Braves are carrying three catchers on their opening day roster
1:19PM ( 7 hours ago )
LEADING OFF: Opening day! Guardians debut, Ohtani and Braves
Cubs veteran Kyle Hendricks is set to deliver the first pitch of the season against Corbin Burnes and Milwaukee at Wrigley Field just past 2:20 p.m. EDT, the first of seven games still on the calendar amid rainy forecasts across the country
2:18AM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Online Baseball
Dude Perfect trades irons for irreverence at the Masters
The home of the Masters is making an effort to reach a younger generation of golfers as the tournament nears its 100th birthday
3:30PM ( 1 day ago )
Falcons sign LB Evans, OL Ifedi to add to free agent class
The budget-conscious Atlanta Falcons signed former first-round picks Rashaan Evans and offensive lineman Germain Ifedi to one-year contracts
1:39PM ( 1 day ago )
Attorneys General warn NFL to improve treatment of women
The attorneys general of six states have written to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , expressing concern over the league’s treatment of female employees and admonishing him for a lack of improvement to the league’s workplace culture
1:23PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Football
Manhattan DA: Trump criminal investigation is continuing
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump and his business practices is continuing despite a recent shakeup in the probe’s leadership
7:25PM ( 1 hour ago )
Appeals court OKs Biden federal employee vaccine mandate
A federal appeals court has upheld President Joe Biden’s requirement that all federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19
7:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Mass shooting suspect served less time with California law
Officials say a suspect arrested in connection with Sunday’s mass shooting near the California state Capitol would likely still be in prison were it not for corrections officials’ use of sentencing credits authorized by voters in 2016
7:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Jackson confirmed as first Black female high court justice
The Senate has confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, shattering a historic barrier by securing her place as the first Black female justice and giving President Joe Biden a bipartisan endorsement for his effort to diversify the court
5:21PM ( 3 hours ago )
UN aid chief: 'I'm not optimistic' about Ukraine ceasefire
The United Nations’ humanitarian chief says he is not optimistic about securing a ceasefire to halt the fighting in Ukraine
5:14PM ( 3 hours ago )
NOAA: Potent heat-trapping methane increases at record pace
U.S. government scientists calculate that levels of the potent heat-trapping gas methane rose at a record pace last year
5:02PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Santana, Rodríguez, Rondón suspended for positive drug tests
Outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodríguez and infielder José Rondón were suspended for 80 games each Monday in the first discipline since the major league drug testing program resumed March 11 following a 99-day suspension during the lockout
10:20PM ( 2 days ago )
No announcements on Judge extension as opening day nears
New York Yankees star Aaron Judge and general manager Brian Cashman had no update on a contract extension for the slugger with a potential deadline looming later this week
6:41PM ( 3 days ago )
Cardinals' Pujols to make 22nd consecutive opening day start
Albert Pujols will be in the starting lineup for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Pirates when he begins his final big league season Thursday in what should be an emotional return to Busch Stadium
5:07PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - Major League Baseball
Column: NIT joins other sports tradition in fading away
With all eyes focused on the Final Four, it's doubtful that many noticed the passing of a storied tradition in college basketball
4:41PM ( 6 days ago )
Todd Bowles calls replacing Bruce Arians 'bittersweet'
Todd Bowles earned his way in the NFL on the defensive side of the ball
6:29PM ( 1 week ago )
Arians retires as Bucs' coach, Bowles promoted to top spot
Bruce Arians has decided to retire as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and move into a front-office role with the team, a stunning move announced Wednesday night
10:47PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Sports - NFL
US speeds entry for Ukrainians as more reach Mexico border
The United States has sharply increased the number of Ukrainians admitted to the country at the Mexican border as even more refugees fleeing the Russian invasion follow the same circuitous route
8:37PM ( 11 minutes ago )
NCAA Frozen Four: Denver beats Michigan 3-2 in overtime
Carter Savoie scored with 14:53 gone in overtime to lead Denver past Michigan 3-2 in the Frozen Four semifinal and into the NCAA championship game
8:23PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Witt a debut! Royals rookie stars in 3-1 win over Guardians
Bobby Witt Jr. capped his highly anticipated big league debut with his first hit, a go-ahead double with two outs in the eighth inning, sending the Kansas City Royals to a 3-1 victory over the rechristened Cleveland Guardians
8:23PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Tiger is back at Masters, and it already felt like a victory
Tiger Woods was back in the Masters some 14 months after a car crash that shattered his right leg
8:18PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Defendants protest trial delays in New Mexico compound raid
A second defendant is invoking the right to a speedy trial in the 2018 raid on a squalid family compound in northern New Mexico that uncovered the remains of a 3-year-old boy and led to charges of kidnapping, firearms and terrorism charges
8:16PM ( 31 minutes ago )