LEADING OFF: Hinch back in Houston, Mets in weather mess

MLB

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

HOUSTON HOMECOMING

First-year Tigers manager A.J. Hinch returns to Houston for the first time since being suspended by Major League Baseball for his role in the sign-stealing scandal that rocked the sport. With Hinch as their manager, the Astros were found to have used cameras and banged on trash cans to get an unfair advantage en route to winning the World Series in 2017.

Hinch was fired following a lengthy investigation and was prohibited from managing last season before being hired by the Tigers. He’s expecting a warm reception in his first game back at Minute Maid Park.

”Houston fans have been tremendously supportive to me and my family,” he said. ”It’s home for me. That city matters to me. The fans have been tremendous and obviously it will be very emotional when I see them.”

Detroit will be without slugger Miguel Cabrera, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Sunday with soreness in his left biceps.

RAIN GAMES

The Mets’ meteorological abilities will again be a focus a day after an embarrassing snafu Sunday that drew criticism from New York right-hander Marcus Stroman. The club pushed ahead with a 1:10 p.m. start against Miami despite wet conditions in Queens, and umpires delayed and then postponed the game after Stroman threw just nine pitches. Home teams decide whether to start games, but once it has begun, umpires decide whether to stop play because of bad weather. Stroman called the decision to start ”not smart at all.”

Rain remains in New York’s forecast for Monday, when the Mets are set to host Philadelphia. Lefty David Peterson is set to face Phillies righty Chase Anderson.

COMING BACK

Nationals manager Dave Martinez hopes left-hander Jon Lester, first baseman Josh Bell, second baseman Josh Harrison and outfielder Kyle Schwarber can be reinstated from the injured list Monday. They’ve been out all season under COVID-19 protocols, an outbreak that delayed the start of Washington’s season and left the Nats short-handed. Martinez said their returns to the field likely won’t happen simultaneously as they ramp up their preparation, however.

The 2019 World Series champs are 1-5 and were swept over the weekend by the Dodgers. They’ve been shut out three times in four games and are hoping to get things going as they open a series in St. Louis. Stephen Strasburg (0-0, 0.00) makes his second start against John Gant (0-0, 0.00).

NOT SO SUNSHINE STATE

Toronto hopes to get a home series against the Yankees off without more weather woes. The Blue Jays are playing home games at their spring training park in Dunedin, Florida, due to Canada’s COVID-19 policies, and the state’s April showers are wreaking some havoc. Their game Saturday against the Angels was delayed 2 hours, 38 minutes, by rain and wind gusts up to 45 mph, and they postponed Sunday’s finale against Los Angeles because of more rain.

Monday’s forecast looks clear. Robbie Ray is set for his season debut against New York ace Gerrit Cole (1-0, 1.46).

BETTER BELIEB

Shane Bieber’s Cy Young Award defense is off to a strong start for Cleveland. The right-hander has 24 strikeouts through two starts and hopes to pile up some more in a start against the White Sox. Bieber (0-1, 3.65 ERA) easily led the majors in strikeouts last year with 122 in 12 starts. He’ll face Chicago left-hander Carlos Rodon (1-0, 0.00).

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