LEADING OFF: Ohtani back on the mound, Sanchez slugging

Shohei Ohtani, Corey Seager

Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani walks off the mound after giving up a solo home run to Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager during the second inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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

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OHTANI ON THE MOUND

Shohei Ohtani’s quest to regain his reputation as a stellar two-way player gets a big test when he takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels against the White Sox.

The right-handed Ohtani had 10 impressive starts on the mound as a rookie in 2018 before needing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He hasn’t been on the mound since except for two ineffective appearances last season.

The Angels still feel the Japanese star can contribute on the mound even after an inconsistent performance in spring training.

The good news was Ohtani struck out 17 batters over 10 1/3 innings. The bad was he also gave up 14 earned runs, walked 10 and had a 12.19 ERA. But he gets a clean slate starting Sunday against the White Sox.

SUPER SANCHEZ

If the first two games are any indication, Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez is in for a bounceback season.

The two-time All-Star has popped two homers over his first two games, becoming just the second New York catcher to accomplish the feat along with Elston Howard in 1963.

The 28-year-old hit a career-high 34 homers in 2019 but struggled through a brutal 2020, batting just .147 with a .253 on-base percentage and 10 homers.

ALL-STAR FALLOUT

MLB and the Atlanta Braves are facing fallout from the league’s decision to yank the July 13 All-Star Game from Atlanta’s Truist Park. The move was made because of Georgia’s new, controversial voting law.

Some fans across baseball applauded the move while others were upset. MLB has not decided on a new host city.

Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp vowed to defend the measure.

“I want to be clear: I will not be backing down from this fight. We will not be intimidated, and we will also not be silenced,” Kemp said.

“Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola and Delta may be scared of Stacey Abrams, Joe Biden and the left, but I am not,” he said, referring to companies that have also criticized the new law.

LESS BUSY EASTER

Sundays around the big leagues are usually very busy, but there won’t be quite as many games this Easter.

The three-game Mets-Nationals series was already postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Nationals. There are also some built-in days off that have spaced out games for other teams during the season’s first few weeks.

San Francisco-Seattle and Miami-Tampa Bay will also have Sunday off, meaning there’s just 12 games on the schedule.

HURTING HAYES

Pittsburgh’s emerging star Ke’Bryan Hayes left Saturday’s game against the Chicago Cubs with discomfort in his left wrist.

Hayes walked and scored on Kevin Newman’s two-out single in the first inning, but he jammed his left hand diving back to first on a pickoff attempt. Erik González batted for Hayes in the third and remained at third base.

The 24-year-old Hayes is an NL Rookie of the Year favorite after a brief, stellar debut in 2020. He batted .376 in 24 games, hitting five homers with 11 RBIs. He hit a two-run homer off Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks in Thursday’s opener.

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