Jacob deGrom will make his debut for the Rangers — and in the American League — against a familiar foe from his nine seasons with the Mets.
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner will be limited to about 65 pitches Thursday against the reigning National League champion Phillies. Just having deGrom healthy and on the mound for the season opener is a positive start for the Rangers and the pitcher whose last two years in New York were plagued by injuries.
“We feel good about him, and he should, too. He’s had some great outings,” new Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “I think there were probably some questions when we did have to slow play him, but now we see that he’s ready.”
Texas was overly cautious with its prized offseason addition ($185 million, five-year contract in free agency) after he reported tightness in his left side just before the team’s first official spring training workout. The righthander struck out 10 over 6⅔ scoreless innings in his only two exhibition games in Arizona, which came after throwing batting practice and in a minor league game.
DeGrom is 9-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 136 strikeouts over 120 innings in 20 career starts against the Phillies.
Aaron Nola, the 29-year-old righthander going into the final year of his contract, will make his sixth — and maybe last — Opening Day start for the Phillies. It comes days after president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said discussions about a contract extension had broken off, and the pitcher indicated those could wait until after the season.
Matt Williams has colon cancer
Padres third base coach Matt Williams has colon cancer and will have surgery on Friday.
Mike Shildt, the former Cardinals manager who is a senior adviser with the Padres, will fill in as third base coach beginning Thursday, when the most eagerly anticipated season in franchise history begins with a home game against the Rockies.
Williams, a five-time All-Star in a 17-year career spent mostly with the Giants, said he was diagnosed about three weeks ago.
“I don’t have any symptoms, I don’t have any issues, but at this point it’s important that we get it out of there,” Williams said Wednesday.
Williams, 57, said initial scans show that the cancer hasn’t spread. “That’s a good thing, so we’ll see how it goes from here.”