LEADING OFF: Yelich, Springer slumping, Blue Jays wandering

MLB Baseball

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

SLOW STARTS

Two-time defending NL batting champion Christian Yelich has a long way to go if he wants a three-peat. The Milwaukee star is 1 for 27 to start the season, an .037 average that’s worst among qualified hitters.

Yelich also has struck out 12 times going into the series opener at home against Jack Flaherty and the Cardinals.

A trio of top Houston hitters also has been slow out of the batter’s box this season. Former World Series MVP George Springer (.048), two-time batting champ Jose Altuve (.174) and former All-Star Game MVP Alex Bregman (.174) will look to break loose when the Astros visit the Angels.

TORONTO’S TRAVELS

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the wandering Blue Jays will figure out where to spend this weekend after a three-game series in Philadelphia was called off because two Phillies staffers tested positive for the virus.

Shut out of playing in Toronto this year because of health concerns by the Canadian government, the Blue Jays held their first ”home” series of the season in Washington this week. Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and the Jays will stay in DC and work out at Nationals Park.

The Blue Jays eventually will play home games in Buffalo at the stadium of their Triple-A affiliate. But that park isn’t ready yet, forcing the Jays to stay on the road.

Washington, meanwhile, heads into a coronavirus-caused ”mini All-Star break,” as manager Dave Martinez called it. The Nationals’ series in Miami this weekend was scrapped after several Marlins players tested positive, leaving Trea Turner and the defending World Series champs with a four-day break.

FRESH FISH

Angels star Mike Trout was placed on the paternity list Thursday as the reigning AL MVP and his wife, Jessica, prepare to have their first child. The 28-year-old Trout was initially hesitant about playing baseball amid the coronavirus pandemic with Jessica due Aug. 2, but he has been pleased with how Angels players and personnel have practiced safety protocols.

Los Angeles is set to open a three-game home series against Houston. Brian Goodwin is expected to replace Trout in center field and in the No. 2 spot in the order.

CLOSING DOWN

The Texas Rangers will be minus closer Jose Leclerc for most of the virus-shortened season because of a shoulder injury similar to the one that’s sidelined starter Corey Kluber.

Leclerc’s muscle tear in his right shoulder is not as severe as Kluber’s, but he will have the same injection and be out the same four weeks before any plan for throwing is considered.

The 26-year-old Leclerc stopped warming up for a save situation in a 7-4 win over Arizona on Wednesday because of shoulder tightness. Nick Goody filled in and worked a perfect ninth for his first save.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

After finishing up four straight games against the Mets with the final two at Citi Field in Queens, J.D. Martinez and the Boston Red Sox stay in New York City but head up to the Bronx for the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees’ home opener marks the first meeting between the longtime rivals during this tenuous season shortened by the coronavirus. The teams are scheduled to play seven times in New York and only three at Fenway Park (Sept. 18-20). Ryan Weber pitches for the Red Sox against left-hander Jordan Montgomery.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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