Astros celebrate, Cubs-Cardinals in London mark schedule


CHICAGO (AP) — So many returns for baseball this summer. Some happy, some not so much.

Here are some dates to remember for the coming season:


Chicago White Sox at Houston Astros: Jose Altuve and the Astros get another opportunity to celebrate the franchise’s second World Series championship when they host Tim Anderson and the White Sox on opening day. Houston beat Philadelphia in six games to take home the title last year. It’s also a reunion for first baseman José Abreu, who signed a three-year contract with the Astros in November after spending the past nine seasons with the White Sox.


Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees: On the 100th anniversary of the opening of original Yankee Stadium, marked by a Babe Ruth home run, Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels open a three-game set at the new Yankee Stadium. Despite another stellar season by Ohtani, the Angels went 73-89 last year in the franchise’s seventh consecutive losing season.


Atlanta Braves at New York Mets: The longtime rivals play for the first time since their NL East race last year. After Atlanta rallied for the division title and New York was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Mets owner Steve Cohen went on an epic spending spree that included the additions of pitchers Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga. Atlanta lost All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson in free agency, but it acquired catcher Sean Murphy in a three-team trade in December.


Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers: Trea Turner and Philadelphia visit Freddie Freeman and Los Angeles for a matchup of NL contenders. Turner played for the Dodgers last year, batting .298 with 21 homers and a career-high 100 RBIs. The All-Star shortstop then signed a $300 million, 11-year contract with the Phillies in December. Philadelphia will begin the season without Bryce Harper after the slugger had right elbow surgery in November, but he is expected to return to the lineup by the All-Star break.


New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox: Aaron Judge and the Yankees make their first 2023 trip to Fenway Park for the opener of a weekend series against Rafael Devers and the Red Sox. New York went 13-6 against Boston last year, outscoring the Red Sox 109-76. But the rivals play 13 times this season because of baseball’s new balanced schedule. New York added Carlos Rodón to its rotation in December, while Boston signed Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida during a relatively quiet winter.


Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals: Baseball returns to London Stadium when Ian Happ and the Cubs take on Willson Contreras and the Cardinals. The NL Central rivals were supposed to play in London in 2020, but the games were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Contreras signed an $87.5 million, five-year contract with St. Louis in December, joining one of Chicago’s biggest rivals after spending his first seven seasons with the Cubs. The Cardinals’ first game of the season at Wrigley Field is May 8.


All-Star Game at Seattle: The All-Star Game heads to Emerald City for the first time since 2001 and third time overall. The last time Seattle hosted the Midsummer Classic, Cal Ripken Jr. homered to lead the American League to a 4-1 victory over Barry Bonds and the National League. Mariners star Julio Rodríguez was the runner-up to Juan Soto in last year’s Home Run Derby, and the dynamic outfielder will have plenty of support if he decides to try the event again this year at T-Mobile Park.


Texas Rangers at New York Mets: Ace right-hander Jacob deGrom returns to New York after signing a $185 million, five-year contract with Texas over the winter. The 34-year-old deGrom spent his first nine seasons with the Mets, winning two Cy Young Awards while becoming one of the majors’ most dominant pitchers. But he was hampered by injuries the past two years. With the addition of deGrom and Nathan Eovaldi, Texas is looking to challenge Houston for the AL West title.


Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Guardians: The Twins and Guardians meet for the last time in the regular season in the afternoon finale of a three-game series. Minnesota is looking to return to the playoffs after an offseason highlighted by a $200 million, six-year deal with Carlos Correa. Cleveland won the AL Central last year for the first time since 2018, finishing 14 games ahead of the third-place Twins. The Guardians added some power to their lineup when they signed first baseman Josh Bell to a two-year contract.


San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers: Manny Machado and San Diego conclude their season series against Mookie Betts and Los Angeles with the finale of a three-game set. The Dodgers won the NL West title in 2022 for the ninth time in 10 years, but they were eliminated by the second-place Padres in their NL Division Series. San Diego made one of the most surprising moves of the offseason, signing shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a $280 million, 11-year contract. Los Angeles was pretty quiet over the winter, but it still has one of the majors’ deepest rosters.


Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays: Tampa Bay finishes the regular season with a three-game set at Toronto in an AL East matchup. The Rays made the playoffs in 2022 for the fourth straight year, but they were swept by Cleveland in the wild-card round. A healthy season from infielder Wander Franco could provide a big boost for Tampa Bay. Toronto also made the playoffs last year, and it could be even better this season after signing Chris Bassitt in free agency and acquiring slugger Daulton Varsho in a trade with Arizona.


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