LEADING OFF: Ailing players heal up, Yanks back in Cleveland

National Sports
Byron Buxton

Minnesota Twins’ Byron Buxton lies on the ground after being hit by a pitch from Cincinnati Reds’ Lucas Sims during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

A look at what’s happening around the majors Monday:

HOW DOES IT FEEL?

American League playoff teams get only one day off to assess injuries and make roster decisions before the first round begins Tuesday.

Minnesota has a couple of ailing hitters in third baseman Josh Donaldson (right calf) and center fielder Byron Buxton (mild concussion symptoms). Both have missed two straight games. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Buxton is improving and the team hopes he’ll be ready for the postseason opener.

White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez sprained his right foot on a slide Thursday but was “improving exponentially,” manager Rick Renteria said Sunday. Jiménez sat out the weekend series against the Cubs.

Tampa Bay left-hander José Alvarado (left shoulder inflammation), first baseman Ji-Man Choi (left hamstring strain) and infielder Yandy Díaz (right hamstring strain) are set to participate in a simulated game. Brett Phillips exited Sunday’s game with right hamstring tightness, and fellow outfielder Manuel Margot (sore foot) was scratched from the lineup.

BANGED-UP BRAVES

Atlanta’s medical staff will be busy treating star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and reliever Chris Martin with hopes both are ready to go for Wednesday’s postseason opener against Cincinnati.

Acuña was scratched Sunday with renewed irritation in his left wrist. He was on the 10-day injured list due to soreness in the same wrist from Aug. 12-25, but manager Brian Snitker is confident Acuña will be in the Game 1 lineup.

“That wrist thing was biting a little bit,” Snitker said. “Not bad. He wanted to play. He said it was a little sore so there was no reason for him to play. He can get treatment today, tomorrow and the next day and be ready to go.”

Martin left Sunday’s season finale with right groin tightness and is day to day. The right-hander had a 1.00 ERA in 19 appearances.

The Braves also have a decision to make on Pablo Sandoval, who had two walks Sunday after his contract was selected from Atlanta’s alternate site. The Braves signed Sandoval, 34, to a minor league deal on Sept. 14, days after he was released by San Francisco. Sandoval is in contention for a bench spot for October.

BEEN A WHILE

The Yankees will get a look at Progressive Field, a day ahead of starting their best-of-three playoff against Shane Bieber and the Indians.

Because of the reworked schedule caused by the virus outbreak, the Yankees didn’t play in Cleveland this year. Their last game at the park was on June 9, 2019, when Brett Gardner homered as New York chased Bieber in the second inning. That was a month before Bieber was the MVP of the All-Star Game on the same field and began attracting more and more attention.

Bieber led the majors in ERA (1.63) and strikeouts (122 in 77 1/3 innings) this season and tied for the most wins in going 8-1. He’ll start against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84) on Tuesday night.

NOW HIRING

Boston is looking for its next manager after letting Ron Roenicke go following his one season on the job. Roenicke replaced Alex Cora after the 2018 World Series-winning manager was fired for his role in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal in 2017. Cora could get consideration for the opening once he finishes his one-year ban from baseball levied by Commissioner Rob Manfred for his actions with the Astros.

The Angels, meanwhile, need a new general manager after firing Billy Eppler on Sunday. Los Angeles finished its fifth consecutive losing season under his watch, despite having stars Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani.

The Tigers also need a new skipper after Ron Gardenhire stepped away late in the season, and more openings could follow as clubs evaluate their status for 2021.

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