The New York Yankees came through in the ninth inning to win a hard-fought pitching duel 3-2 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Yankees pitcher Jordan Montgomery was strong through five innings, conceding two runs from six hits and no walks, striking out five. For the Blue Jays, Ross Stripling gave up two runs from five hits and no walks in four innings.

It was a scoreless first three frames, before the Yankees finally found the breakthrough when Gleyber Torres stepped up to the plate with Josh Donaldson on first base and two outs, sending a blast over the right-field wall to make it 2-0.

The lead was short-lived, as George Springer led off the bottom of the fourth with a base hit, before coming home with Bo Bichette's double to left-field. Bichette was then brought home by Matt Chapman's two-out base hit, tying the game at 2-2.

It would be another four scoreless innings as both bullpens, particularly the Blue Jays', were lights out, not allowing the Yankees another baserunner until the ninth inning.

Giancarlo Stanton led off the last frame with a single to center-field, before he was withdrawn from the game, replaced by speedy pinch-runner Tim Locastro in a game-winning decision.

Locastro instantly stole second base, breaking up what would have been a double-play when the next batter up grounded out, and made his way into scoring position in the process. 

Aaron Hicks' strikeout brought Torres back to the plate with two outs, and he delivered once again, sending a base hit to right-field to bring Locastro to home plate for a 3-2 lead.

Yankees closer Chad Green closed the door in style, striking out two of the three batters he faced to collect the save.

Angels batters issued Cease and desist 

Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease pitched a gem in his side's 3-0 shutout win against the Los Angeles Angels.

Cease got through seven complete innings in 93 pitches, striking out 11 while conceding just one hit and no walks.

He did not have to wait long for run-support either, as the White Sox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning after A.J. Pollock and Jake Burger drove in one each.

Pitchers put on a show in St Louis

Kansas City Royals starter Zach Greinke only allowed three hits, no walks and one run in his six innings, but was still credited with the loss as his side went down 1-0 against the St Louis Cardinals.

Steven Matz was even better for the Cardinals, pitching six scoreless frames, conceding four hits and no walks.

Paul Goldschmidt put the Cardinals ahead with a solo home run in the opening inning, for the first and last run of the night. 

The Toronto Blue Jays are expecting to wait a while before they get top offseason recruit George Springer back from the injured list. 

Toronto placed Springer on the 10-day injured list with a right quad strain on Wednesday, with the move retroactive to May 3. 

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins believes star Springer will need more than the minimum length of time to return to the MLB line-up. 

"I would expect it would take more than just the IL stint," Atkins told reporters on Thursday.

"There's a chance I'm wrong, but based on the information that I have right now, I would expect that it would take longer than that IL stint."

Springer had been serving as a designated hitter following his long-awaited Blue Jays debut on April 28.

The 31-year-old has appeared in four games, hitting two home runs against the Atlanta Braves last week but going one for 10 with four strikeouts in his other appearances.

Springer left Sunday's game after three at-bats, complaining of what manager Charlie Montoyo called only "fatigue".  

The World Series champion and MVP joined Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency ahead of the 2021 season, the largest deal in Blue Jays history.

His setback is just one of a number of injury issues for the Blue Jays, who put pitcher David Phelps on the IL on Thursday with a right lat strain as infielder Joe Panik had an MRI after feeling calf pain while running on Wednesday. 

Earlier this week, Toronto put pitchers Tommy Milone (shoulder) and Anthony Castro (forearm) on the IL along with catcher Alejandro Kirk (hip). 

The Toronto Blue Jays placed star George Springer on the 10-day injured list with a right quad strain, the MLB franchise announced on Wednesday.

Springer's stint on the IL is retroactive to May 3, while outfielder Jonathan Davis has been recalled to the active roster for the midweek clash against the Oakland Athletics.

Toronto's prized recruit Springer underwent an MRI earlier on Wednesday, having been absent from the line-up on Monday and Tuesday following his removal from Sunday's game in what manager Charlie Montoyo described "fatigue".

"The main reason we did it is because we didn't see him improving fast enough, so we decided to have some imaging done to determine the next steps on him," said Montoyo as Springer's start to life in Toronto is hampered by injury.

Springer had been playing as a designated hitter following his long-awaited Blue Jays debut last month.

The World Series champion and MVP, who joined Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency ahead of the 2021 season – the largest deal in Blue Jays history, hit a pair of home runs against the Atlanta Braves last week.

"I wouldn't call it severe," Montoyo said on Tuesday. "He wasn't going to be out six weeks or four weeks, so I wouldn't call it severe, that's for sure.

"That's why he came back as soon as he did, because it was never severe. When it happened, he never really limped off the field, he just stopped running and went inside because he felt the quad."

In 15 at-bats this season, three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Springer has tallied three hits, three runs, two homers and three RBI with a .200 batting average.

Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said George Springer was feeling fatigued as he allayed concerns over the MLB World Series champion after he exited Sunday's 7-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

Springer left the win against the Braves in the sixth inning for a pinch hitter as the Blue Jays claimed a series sweep in Dunedin.

It came a day after Toronto's prized recruit and 2017 World Series MVP hit his first home runs for the Blue Jays – the three-time All-Star only making his long-awaited debut against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday due to injuries.

Springer, who joined Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency ahead of the 2021 season – the largest deal in Blue Jays history, has been playing as a designated hitter and clubbed a pair of homers as the Blue Jays rallied to a 6-5 walk-off triumph on Saturday.

After his removal on Sunday, Montoyo told reporters: "He was fatigued. It was hot today, and [playing] three days in a row swinging the bat, he felt fatigued.

"Of course, we're going to be careful with him and that's why we decided to take him out. It was the best thing for him today."

Blue Jays star Springer was playing in just his fourth game since returning from a quad strain.

It remains to be seen when Springer will play in the field as he continues as a designated hitter ahead of Monday's series opener against the Oakland Athletics.

"We're going to manage his load and his work, but we have to communicate," Montoyo said. "We have to talk to him.

"If he feels like he needs a day off, we're going to give it to him. That's why he's been at DH – we're being careful."

The Blue Jays (14-12) have won seven of their last 10 games to be second in the American League (AL) East, behind the Boston Red Sox (17-12).

George Springer says not "overthinking" things was key to hitting his first home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday. 

Springer joined Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – ahead of the 2021 MLB season.

He only made his long-awaited debut against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday due to injuries, but starred as the Blue Jays rallied to a 6-5 walk-off win against the Atlanta Braves.

Toronto trailed 4-0 and 5-2 but Springer, who hit a two-run home run in the third inning and a 470-foot shot in the seventh to level the game at 5-5, helped the Blue Jays rally.

Springer – still playing as a designated hitter – attributed his success to being in a positive frame of mind and not worrying about what could go wrong. 

"It's awesome, it's exciting," he told a media conference. "It feels good to help out. Obviously that's a big spot and it's exciting to help the team for the first time in a long time. 

"It felt good. They all count the same so it doesn't matter how far they go. I'm happy to help the team in a big spot. 

"It's a huge win for us against a great team, and onto tomorrow."

On his method in such situations, Springer added: "It's not really overthinking it; it's getting a pitch that I think I can hit well and hopefully not miss. 

"A lot that goes into it. I think it's a mentality thing as well. I need to be able to do the things the game asks me to do and I have to be able to do the things my team-mates expect me to do. 

"I don't want to be out there scared of something. I think I'm in a good spot now and go from there."

George Springer hit his first home runs for the Toronto Blue Jays, who rallied to a 6-5 walk-off win against the Atlanta Braves.

Springer was lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – ahead of the 2021 MLB season and only made his long-awaited debut against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday due to injuries.

The prized recruit – still playing as a designated hitter – fuelled the Blue Jays with a pair of homers against the Braves on Saturday.

Toronto trailed 4-0 and 5-2 but Springer, who hit a two-run home run in the third inning and a 470-foot shot in the seventh to level the game at 5-5, helped the Blue Jays rally.

Randal Grichuk completed the comeback against the visiting Braves with an RBI single in the 10th inning.

There was also a walk-off win in Milwaukee, where the Brewers took down struggling World Series champions the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5.

Travis Shaw homered and hit a game-winning single for the Brewers, who scored three runs in the 11th inning to beat the Dodgers for a third consecutive game.

 

Taillon celebrates first win in two years

It was a game to remember for Jameson Taillon. For the first time in two years, Taillon earned his first victory after the New York Yankees outlasted the Detroit Tigers 6-4. Taillon allowed one run, three hits and struck out eight batters over five innings.

The Colorado Rockies crushed the Arizona Diamondbacks 14-6 behind Dom Nunez's grand slam and a two-run homer via Trevor Story.

Blake Snell – a World Series participant with the Tampa Bay Rays and 2018 American League (AL) Cy Young Award winner – registered his first win for the San Diego Padres since arriving in the offseason. Snell gave up one earned run and five hits across five innings, striking out six as the Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2. Manny Machado added a three-run homer.

Tim Anderson's grand slam – second of his career – guided the Chicago White Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

 

Cahill's costly start

While Trevor Cahill regained his composure and control, it was too late for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were beaten 12-5 by the St Louis Cardinals. Cahill gave up four runs in the opening inning and the Pirates never recovered. Cahill allowed seven hits, five runs and a homer in just over five innings.

 

Trout loves Seattle

Mike Trout hit his seventh home run of the season to see the Los Angeles Angels past the Seattle Mariners 10-5. Trout clubbed his 28th homer in Seattle – his 10th career first-inning home run away to the Mariners. The Angels star is the only Mariners opponent with more than 20 homers in Seattle.

 

Saturday's results

New York Yankees 6-4 Detroit Tigers
Washington Nationals 7-2 Miami Marlins
Kansas City Royals 11-3 Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox 7-3 Cleveland Indians
Baltimore Orioles 8-4 Oakland Athletics
Chicago Cubs 3-2 Cincinnati Reds
Houston Astros 3-1 Tampa Bay Rays
New York Mets 5-4 Philadelphia Phillies
St Louis Cardinals 12-5 Pittsburgh Pirates
Texas Rangers 8-6 Boston Red Sox
Milwaukee Brewers 6-5 Los Angeles Dodgers
Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 Atlanta Braves
Colorado Rockies 14-6 Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres 6-2 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels 10-5 Seattle Mariners

 

Dodgers at Brewers

The Dodgers (16-12) will be looking to avoid a four-game sweep when their series against the Brewers (17-10) concludes on Sunday.

George Springer will make his highly anticipated Toronto Blue Jays debut as a designated hitter against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

Springer was lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – but injuries have prevented the 2017 World Series champion and MVP from debuting for the MLB hopefuls.

The three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger had been nearing a return from a left oblique strain, but tightness in his right quad has sidelined Springer.

However, Springer will finally step out for the Blue Jays when they face the Nationals in the second and final game of their short series in Dunedin midweek after star team-mate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. became the youngest player in MLB history with three-plus homers and seven-plus RBI in a game on Tuesday.

Guerrero hit three home runs, including a grand slam, as the Blue Jays topped the Nationals 9-5.

"This will be an exciting day," Springer told reporters. "I'm happy with my progress and obviously looking forward to getting in there.

"I just had to trust myself,'' Springer said. "Obviously I don't want to hurt myself again.

"I want to play. I'm tired of being on the IL and not being out there with the guys. I had an opportunity to play today and I said, 'Absolutely.'"

Heading into the 2021 season, Springer had led MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015.

Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

The 31-year-old Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

Springer's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

Toronto Blue Jays star George Springer is moving closer to his long-awaited debut following an injury-hit start to life with the MLB franchise.

Springer was lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – but injuries have prevented the 2017 World Series champion and MVP from debuting for the MLB hopefuls.

The three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger had been nearing a return from a left oblique strain, but tightness in his right quad has sidelined Springer.

However, Springer will play in Friday's intra-squad game and could make his much-anticipated Blue Jays bow in the upcoming three-game series against American League (AL) East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays, with the final two games played on Saturday and Sunday.

"He's excited; we're exceptionally excited," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on Thursday. "Tomorrow is a great day for George.

"He's doing all baseball activity, he's extremely confident and strong. Now it's just a matter of recovery and putting him in a position to play nine innings and feel like he can face elite major league pitching.

"Tomorrow will be a very important day to determine what that next step is and what's best for him."

Heading into the 2021 season, Springer had led MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015.

Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

The 31-year-old Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

Springer's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

Meanwhile, in another boost for the Blue Jays, star Nate Pearson (groin) will start and pitch two-three innings in Friday's intra-squad game.

The Blue Jays (8-10) are third in the AL East, behind leaders the Boston Red Sox (12-7) and Rays (10-9).

Toronto Blue Jays star George Springer suffered a second injury in a fresh blow for the World Series champion, who is still waiting to make his highly anticipated debut.

Springer was lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in franchise history – but injuries have prevented the 2017 World Series MVP from debuting for the MLB hopefuls.

The three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger had been nearing a return from a left oblique strain, but he is now dealing with tightness in his right quad which he felt on Tuesday.

Speaking prior to Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo – as Toronto await the results of an MRI – told reporters:  "His live batting price was fine. There's no issues with the oblique. But his leg did feel a little tight. But we don't know how badly.

"Everybody's concerned — because with those injuries, you just never know where they are. It's tough because you've got to be careful. Just like with the oblique. Because if you pull it worse, then you're really out for a long time.

"That's the one thing about those injuries. That's for anybody. We have to be patient and be careful. You know how badly he wants to play.

"That's why after everything that happened yesterday, he talked to [the media] and he felt like he still wanted to play. But then, as the day went on, he felt, 'OK, this is still tight'. So, that's why we ended up getting an MRI."

Heading into the 2021 season, Springer led MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team had 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time, per Stats Perform.

Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

The 31-year-old Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

Springer's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

The Toronto Blue Jays will be without prized recruit George Springer on Opening Day after he was added to the injured list with an oblique strain.

Springer – lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract via free agency, the largest deal in franchise history – was in doubt for Thursday's season opener against the New York Yankees after straining his oblique muscle during Spring Training.

The youthful and exciting Blue Jays, who returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016, have exercised caution over their big-money addition as they prepare to face American League (AL) East rivals the Yankees in New York.

"I'm hoping for as soon as possible but we have to go day-to-day," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters on Wednesday.

"Of course he's got to face pitchers, live BPs and stuff, so how he responds from there we'll know more [about a timeline].

"Hopefully, the first or second day when it's time to come back, he'll be ready."

Springer – World Series champion and MVP with the Houston Astros in 2017 – leads MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time, per Stats Perform.

A two-time Silver Slugger, Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

The three-time All-Star's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

Opening Day.

A term synonymous with baseball across the United States and the globe. For fans, it is nothing short of a national holiday.

The highly anticipated start to the season on April 1 is an occasion steeped in history, with tradition front and centre.

This year's Opening Day means more than most. It is the latest signal of American life and sport returning to normal amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic led to an enforced break and a reduced 60-game regular season schedule behind closed doors, with a limited number of fans allowed to attend the playoffs as the Los Angeles Dodgers went on to end their 32-year World Series drought.

But 2021 will see the return of the usual 162-game calendar and more importantly, spectators in the stands. All but one of the 30 teams will start at reduced capacity – the Texas Rangers hosting a full house for their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

As America's pastime begins anew, we preview the upcoming season, in which the Dodgers look to defend their World Series crown, using Stats Perform data.
 

Kershaw gears up for a franchise-record start

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw – entering the final season of his three-year, $93million deal – will be on the mound when the Dodgers open their title defence against the Colorado Rockies.

It will be Kershaw's ninth Opening Day start – the most in franchise history – after injuries prevented him from beginning the 2019 and 2020 campaigns, the eight-time All-Star getting the nod ahead of Walker Buehler and high-profile recruit Trevor Bauer, the reigning National League (NL) Cy Young winner.

Future Hall of Famer Kershaw boasts a 5-1 record on Opening Day, with a 1.05 ERA (6/51.2), 59 strikeouts and eight walks. The 2014 NL MVP's only loss came in his previous start in 2018 as he allowed eight hits and one earned run, while tallying seven strikeouts in six innings against the San Francisco Giants.

Since 1913, when ERA became an official stat, Kershaw has managed the lowest Opening Day figure among pitchers with six starts – 1.05. The 32-year-old's ERA is ahead of Bob Feller (1.21), Jim Palmer (1.40), Hal Newhouser (1.41) and Walter Johnson (1.51).

As for the star-studded Dodgers, they are 74-62 (.544) all-time on Opening Day, winning nine of their 10 season openers since 2011, losing only in 2018.

Their 9-1 (.900) Opening Day record over this stretch is the best in the league, ahead of the Houston Astros (8-2), Baltimore Orioles (8-2), Seattle Mariners (7-3), Detroit Tigers (7-3) and New York Mets (7-3).
 

All eyes on Tatis and Padres

Fernando Tatis Jr. heads into the 2021 season fresh off signing his eye-popping 14-year, $340m contract with the San Diego Padres.

The Padres – winners of two NL pennants – are pinning their hopes on MLB's new poster boy delivering a first World Series to San Diego.

Tatis won a Silver Slugger award last year, having hit .277 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season.

The powerful 22-year-old is the first player in MLB history to have at least 35 home runs and 25 stolen bases within the first 150 games of his career.

Tatis – the youngest Padres player to debut on Opening Day (20 years and 85 days) in 2019 – became the fastest player in franchise history (24 team games) to reach the double-digit home run mark in a season in 2020 after hitting his 10th and 11th homers in August.

In the postseason, Tatis homered twice against the St Louis Cardinals in October, becoming the youngest Padre to ever homer in a playoff game (21 years and 273 days) and the third-youngest player in MLB history to homer twice in a postseason match, behind Carlos Correa (21 and 20 days old) and Andruw Jones (19 years, 180 days old).

When it comes to on-base plus slugging, Tatis stacks up well. Since 1920, Tatis (150.8) is only behind Juan Soto (153.9 – 2018-20), Albert Pujols (159.3 – 2001), Jimmie Foxx (160.0 – 1925-29), Ted Williams (161.5 – 1939-40) and Trout (165.0 – 2011-13) for highest OPS-plus up until the age of 21.

Across his two Opening Day appearances, Tatis has three hits in seven at-bats and two runs while slugging at .571. The Padres will be hoping he can improve on that when they host face the Arizona Diamondbacks.

By comparison, Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper and New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton love Opening Day.

Harper – the 2015 NL MVP and six-time All-Star – has nine hits, five homers and six runs in eight appearances, while 2017 NL MVP Stanton has 13 hits, four homers, 10 runs and 12 RBIs through 10 games.

Blue Jays recruit George Springer, a World Series winner with the Astros, has also impressed on Opening Day following five hits, three homers and six RBIs in six games.
 

Can Abreu and Freeman go back-to-back?

Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu was crowned the American League's best in 2020.

Becoming the 28th player to win both the MVP and Rookie of the Year in his career, Abreu beat Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians and Yankees star DJ LeMahieu.

Abreu – the fourth White Sox player to win the award – was second in MLB with 19 home runs and fourth in the AL with a .317 batting average.

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves trumped Dodgers star Mookie Betts and Padres sensation Manny Machado to the NL honour.

Freeman's 1.102 OPS was the second highest in MLB, trailing only Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, while he led the majors with 51 runs scored and was second in the NL in batting average (.341), on-base percentage (.462) and slugging percentage (.640).

Does it bode well for the pair in 2020?

In a season after winning the MVP award, a player averages 135.9 hits, 21.5 homers, 80.5 runs and 79.5 RBIs with a slugging percentage of .516.

There have been 13 players to win back-to-back MVPs; 11-time All-Star Miguel Cabrera (AL) was the last to do so in 2012 and 2013. The most recent player in the NL was Albert Pujols (2008-09).
 

The end of Cleveland as we know them

After 106 years, this will be the last season the franchise will be known as the Indians, following the example of the NFL's Washington Football Team, who dropped their Redskins nickname in 2020 amid a long-time controversy.

Since 1915, Cleveland have won two World Series – in 1920 and 1948 – with their current streak of 71 seasons without a World Series title the longest active run in the majors.

In 1954, Cleveland went 111-43 (.721) in the regular season, before being swept in the World Series by the Giants. It stands as the highest single-season win percentage in AL history, and the best by any MLB team in the past 100 years.

Cleveland have had a winning record in each of the past eight seasons (2013-20), making them one of four MLB teams with an active streak of eight-plus (also Yankees 28, Cardinals 13, Dodgers 10). It is tied for the second-longest streak of winning seasons in franchise history (10 straight 1947-56; eight in a row 1994-2001).

Three Cleveland players have won the AL MVP Award – George Burns (1926), Lou Boudreau (1948) and Al Rosen (1953) – while five have claimed the AL Cy Young Award: Gaylord Perry (1972), C.C. Sabathia (2007), Cliff Lee (2008), Corey Kluber (2014 and 2017) and Shane Bieber (2020).

The Toronto Blue Jays' prized recruit George Springer is "extremely motivated" to be ready for Opening Day after being diagnosed with an oblique strain.

Toronto lured 2017 MLB World Series champion and MVP Springer to Canada on a six-year, $150million contract via free agency – the largest deal in franchise history.

But Springer's preparations for the April 1 MLB opener against American League (AL) East rivals the New York Yankees have been interrupted by a strained oblique muscle.

Former Houston Astros star Springer, though, is not expected to miss a lot of action for the entertaining Blue Jays.

"The MRI revealed an injury that he is able to play baseball with," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on Tuesday.

"He is extremely motivated and driven to be ready for Opening Day."

Springer leads MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time, per Stats Perform.

A two-time Silver Slugger, Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

The three-time All-Star's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

Meanwhile, Atkins said reliever Kirby Yates is expected to have season-ending surgery on his right elbow.

An All-Star in 2019, Yates only joined the Blue Jays from the San Diego Padres this offseason.

 

 

 

Toronto Blue Jays recruit George Springer is excited about the team's young core, describing them as "beyond impressive" after making his Spring Training debut.

Springer, who joined the Blue Jays on a six-year, $150million contract via free agency – the largest deal in franchise history, debuted in Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

A three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger, Springer managed his first Spring Training hit against the Phillies.

The arrival of MLB World Series champion Springer from the Houston Astros caused a splash, his wealth of postseason experience complimenting a young group of stars in Toronto – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.

In Toronto, Bichette is the first shortstop in MLB history to have a .300-plus batting average and a .500-plus slugging percentage in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons), per Stats Perform.

Blue Jays team-mate Biggio became the first player in league history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 100 walks through his first 159 career games (that is how many games he has played so far).

As for Guerrero, he is the only MLB player currently 21 or younger who has at least 100 career RBIs.

Based on age at the time of games, the Blue Jays had the most hits (234), runs (148), home runs (38), RBIs (137), XBH (93) and BB (103) in 2020.

"A lot of people will say that they're young, but I think they're advanced for their age," Springer said post-game.

"I was having a conversation and you just kind of realise the talent it takes to play at this level at age 21, 22.

"It's beyond impressive to be in the big leagues that young and to do the things all these guys can do."

Springer impressed on his Spring Training bow for the Blue Jays, who will open their 2021 MLB season against American League (AL) East rivals the New York Yankees on April 1.

Batting leadoff at TD Ballpark on Tuesday, 2017 World Series MVP Springer hit a single as a designated hitter.

"I generally just see the ball and hit the ball," Springer said. "As Spring Training goes along, you're not facing a new guy every inning, you're starting to face the same guy over and over again.

"Sequences are starting to change, the game plans are starting to change, so as the spring progresses, it becomes more of a season-like feel."

Springer leads MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time, per Stats Perform.

He has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

The 31-year-old's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo added: "I like when he leads off like we did today. I like that. But we'll see."

George Springer believes the Toronto Blue Jays are "built to win for a long time" after arriving from the Houston Astros in a blockbuster move in free agency.

The Blue Jays lured MLB World Series champion and MVP Springer to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract – the largest deal in franchise history.

Toronto, who returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016 before being swept by eventual World Series participants the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card Round, had made Springer their number one target and landed one of the most coveted free agents this offseason.

Springer brings a wealth of postseason experience to an exciting young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio in Toronto, where the Blue Jays also boast number one right-handed pitching prospect Nate Pearson.

And Springer is excited, telling reporters on Wednesday: "I think they're right there. When you play against this team like I have, you could see the talent, could see the potential in their line-up, in their staff, in their arms.

"I think this team is built to win, and I think they're going to be built to win for a long time."

Springer leads MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015. The Blue Jays as a team have 129 homers from the lead-off spot over that time, per Stats Perform.

A two-time Silver Slugger, Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

The three-time All-Star's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

In Toronto, Bichette is the first shortstop in MLB history to have a .300-plus batting average and a .500-plus slugging percentage in each of his first two seasons (minimum 125 plate appearances in both seasons).

Blue Jays team-mate Biggio became the first player in league history to have at least 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 100 walks through his first 159 career games (that is how many games he has played so far).

As for Guerrero, he is the only MLB player currently 21 or younger who has at least 100 career RBIs.

Based on age at the time of games, the Blue Jays had the most hits (234), runs (148), home runs (38), RBIs (137), XBH (93) and BB (103) in 2020.

"This line-up reminds me a lot of them [the Astros]," 31-year-old outfielder Springer said midweek. 

"It is a young line-up but it's a very talented, advanced younger line-up. From everything I've seen, they're very, very ambitious. They want to win, they work hard. That's awesome to see."

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins, who is eyeing the franchise's first World Series title since 1993, added: "What he's done, his athleticism, his character, his resilience and his perseverance.

"He will overcome challenges and we believe that he's going to be a very, very good player, not just for the beginning of his contract but for the duration."

The Toronto Blue Jays have confirmed the signing of star free agent and MLB World Series champion George Springer on a six-year deal.

Reports emerged earlier this week that Springer, one of the most coveted free agents this offseason, was set to sign a lucrative, long-term, $150million contract with Toronto.

The emerging Blue Jays, who returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2016, have been looking to make a splash in free agency as they seek to add experience to an exciting young core of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio.

And in a boost to their hopes of clinching a first World Series success since 1993, Toronto on Saturday confirmed the deal for Springer – a World Series winner and MVP with the Houston Astros in 2017.

Springer tallied a team-high 14 homers, 37 runs, 50 hits and 32 RBIs with a .265 average in 189 at-bats as the Astros reached the AL Championship Series (ALCS) last season.

Having made his Astros debut in 2014, 31-year-old Springer amassed 174 home runs – the third-most by a Houston player in their first seven career seasons – 567 runs, 832 hits and 458 RBIs with a .270 average in 3,087 at-bats.

A three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger, Springer has hit 19 postseason home runs from 63 games, tied for fourth on the all-time list, behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

The New York Mets had been Toronto's main competition for Springer's signature, but the Blue Jays were able to offer the best deal.

According to league sources, the Mets' final offer came in at $120m to $125m over six years.

The Blue Jays and Mets had been the two finalists for Springer for much of this offseason, but New York’s additions of star shortstop Francisco Lindor and others put the Blue Jays in the driver's seat, where they could use the payroll flexibility that comes with such a young team.

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