Friday’s MLB: White Sox-Angels open ESPN Sunday night slate on April 4

Associated Press

ESPN will open its “Sunday Night Baseball” schedule on April 4 when the Los Angeles Angels host the Chicago White Sox.

The game will feature the last two American League MVPs, with the Angels’ Mike Trout facing reigning MVP and White Sox first baseman José Abreu. The following week will feature National League MVP Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves hosting the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Braves have four appearances in the games that have been announced, with the Yankees, Mets and Braves each on three times.

L.A. Angels' Mike Trout

The San Diego Padres will make their first “Sunday Night Baseball” appearances since 2007. The first is on April 25 at the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, followed by a May 16 game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Other games announced are: Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs (April 18), New York Mets vs. Philadelphia Phillies (May 2), Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves (May 9), Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals (May 23), Atlanta Braves vs. New York Mets (May 30), New York Mets vs. New York Yankees (July 4 and Sept. 12), Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees (July 15 and 18). All games will start at 7 p.m. ET with the exception of the Sept. 12 Mets-Yankees game (8 p.m.).

ESPN will broadcast 11 games over the first six days of the season, including an exclusive, national telecast on opening night April 1 when Washington hosts the New York Mets.

This will be the 32nd season for “Sunday Night Baseball”, which began when ESPN started doing MLB games in 1990. Joe Morgan, the analyst from 1990-2010, died on Oct. 11.

Francona applauds name change

Manager Terry Francona praised the Cleveland Indians for trying to “do the right thing” with a name change that was inevitable — and necessary.

On Friday, Francona complimented the team’s decision to drop its name after 105 years, a switch that came after months of internal discussions, meetings with numerous groups and one that will signal a new beginning for the AL club.

“I am proud of the fact that we are going to do something that is correct,” Francona said on a Zoom call from his home in Arizona.

The team announced its decision on Monday, ending a process that began even before owner Paul Dolan’s announcement in July — hours after the NFL’s Washington team dropped its controversial name — and said the club would do a thorough review of its name.

Dolan told the Associated Press in an interview that the team will remain Indians through at least the 2021 season, and that it would not adopt an interim name until a new one is chosen. Dolan also told AP that Tribe, the team’s popular nickname and a favorite by many fans as the new name, is not an option going forward and the club is stepping completely away from anything with a Native American connotation.

Mets complete deal

The Mets are sending minor league right-hander Ryder Ryan to the Texas Rangers as the player to be named in a trade for infielder Todd Frazier on Aug. 31.

Ryan is a 25-year-old reliever who last pitched at Double-A Binghamton in 2019 because the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season. He was 3-1 with a 3.05 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 44⅓ innings with the Rumble Ponies.

Ryan was left unprotected for this month’s Rule 5 draft and was not selected. New York announced the completion of the deal Friday.

Frazier batted .224 with two home runs in 14 games after being acquired by the Mets. He became a free agent after the season.

Mariners add RH Flexen

Right-hander Chris Flexen and the Mariners agreed to a two-year, $4.75 million.

The 26-year-old gets a $600,000 signing bonus, a $1.4 million salary next season and a $2.75 million salary in 2021. The deal includes an $8 million option for 2022 that would become guaranteed if he pitches in 150 innings next season or 300 innings in 2021 and ’22 combined, or has 35 games finished in 2021 or 65 in 2021 and ’22 combined.

He was 8-4 with a 4.01 ERA last season with the Doosan Bears in South Korea, striking out 132 and walking 30 in 21 starts. He had a 1.91 ERA over 28 1/3 innings in the postseason as a starter and reliever. Flexen was 3-11 with an 8.07 ERA in 11 starts and 16 relief appearances with the New York Mets from 2017-19. He was 43-31 with a 3.61 in eight minor league seasons with the Mets.

Seattle opened a roster spot by designating infielder/outfielder Tim Lopes for assignment.

Rays sign Wacha

The American League champion Rays signed right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year $3 million contract to fill a void in the rotation with the departure of Charlie Morton.

The 29-year old Wacha has a 60-43 record with a 4.01 ERA over eight seasons. After seven years with the St. Louis Cardinals, he went 1-4 with a 6.62 ERA with the New York Mets in 2020.

Wacha is 4-2 with a 3.34 ERA in six career postseason starts, five coming as a rookie in 2013 when the Cardinals won the National League pennant. He was a National League All-Star in 2015.

Morton signed a a $15 million, one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves last month after Tampa Bay declined his $15 million option. The 37-year-old joined the Rays in 2019 and helped Tampa Bay reach the playoffs the past two seasons. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA during this year’s postseason.

The signing also comes one day after the Rays announced that right-hander Brent Honeywell had arthroscopic elbow surgery that is not expected to affect his 2021 season.