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Thanks to a scheduling quirk, the first Sunday of the 2018 baseball season does not feature a full 15-game slate. There are 12 games on the schedule thanks to a doubleheader in Detroit and a rainout in Kansas City. Six teams have a scheduled off-day Sunday. Weird! The Atlanta Braves are one of the six, and as David Wellham of the Atlanta-Journal Constitution notes, this is the team’s first scheduled Sunday off-day since 1933. Huh.

Anyway, in this space this we will keep you, the baseball enthusiast, apprised of all the day’s happenings around the baseball world, even if six teams are chilling out at home. Make sure you check back often for updates.

Sunday’s scores

Ohtani to make first start for Angels

Sunday afternoon, two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani will take the mound for the Angels for the very first time. He started at designated hitter Thursday, on Opening Day, and went 1 for 5. Sunday will be his first pitching appearance. The Angels will take on the A’s in Oakland at 4 p.m. ET.

As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange Country Register notes, Ohtani is doing something that has not been done in nearly a century. From Fletcher:

He will be the first player in nearly 100 years to start as a pitcher and a non-pitcher within the first 10 games of a season. Joe Bush of the Boston Red Sox and Clarence Mitchell of the Brooklyn Dodgers did it in 1920.

The last time a player started as a pitcher and non-pitcher any time in the same season was 1988, when New York Yankees pitcher Rick Rhoden started one game at DH.

As you’ve no doubt already heard, Ohtani did not have a good spring training, either at the plate or on the mound. He went 4 for 32 (.125) with four singles and 10 strikeouts as a hitter, and allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 2 1/3 innings in two Cactus League starts. Ohtani also pitched in several minor league side games with mixed results.

Angels GM Billy Eppler and manager Mike Scioscia insist they are not concerned about Ohtani’s spring performance. And, for what it’s worth, one of Ohtani’s former teammates with the Nippon Ham Fighters expects him to take his game to another level now that the games mean something.

When right, Ohtani has the stuff to be an ace, including a mid-to-high 90s fastball and two wipeout secondary pitchers in his splitter and slider. Some spring reports indicated his velocity was more 91-94 mph than 95-98 mph, though it is not at all uncommon for a pitcher to be missing some velocity in March. They gradually build arm strength and typical reach full speed a few weeks into the season.

Needless to say, all eyes will be on Ohtani on Sunday afternoon. We’ve already gotten a brief look at him at the plate on Opening Day. Now we’ll get to see him on the mound, where pretty much every talent evaluator agrees he does his best work.

Quick hits

  • Rockies 1B/OF Ian Desmond is day-to-day with a knee injury, reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Desmond left Saturday’s game with soreness. He is 4 for 10 with a home run on the young season.
  • Mets OF Brandon Nimmo was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with flu-like symptoms, the team announced. Nimmo is 2 for 3 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch so far this year. He’s emerged as the team’s regular center fielder and leadoff hitter against righties.
  • The Yankees placed OF Billy McKinney on the 10-day DL with a shoulder injury, the club announced. He suffered the injury crashing into the outfield wall Saturday. 3B Miguel Andujar was called up to fill the roster spot.
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