LEADING OFF: Bettis back from chemotherapy, Strasburg rehab
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A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis will complete his comeback from chemotherapy for testicular cancer when he starts at Coors Field against Atlanta.
The 28-year-old Bettis finished his last round of treatment in May, two months after doctors discovered his testicular cancer had spread. He had surgery in November to remove the cancer, but it returned and he was forced to leave the team in March for chemotherapy.
The game will be Bettis' first in the majors since Sept. 30. He went 14-8 for Colorado last year.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon starts his annual "American Legion Week," a stretch of home games during which he allows his players to show up to Wrigley Field at their own discretion. It's designed to give players rest before the key stretch run in September, and take them back to the time in their lives when they were in American Legion ball, where they might get to the field an hour or so before first pitch, suit up and play.
Part of the tradition, which Maddon started when he managed the Tampa Bay Rays, includes recognition of a local American Legion post and ordering beer sausages to eat after games. It'll begin when the NL Central leaders host Cincinnati.
"The whole point is, you don't have to be there all day to be able to play a major league baseball game successfully," Maddon said. "I want them to show up later, I want them to come out and play just like they did when they were kids. Don't overthink it, don't overwork it, don't over-video it, don't over-data it. Just go play some baseball."
ON THE MEND
Washington ace Stephen Strasburg begins his rehabilitation assignment when he starts for Class A Potomac in the Carolina League. He's been on the disabled list since late July with right elbow nerve impingement. The All-Star is 10-3 in 20 starts for the NL East leaders.
In another potential playoff preview, the Red Sox host the Indians to make up an Aug. 2 rainout. Cleveland swept Boston 3-0 during last year's
Boston has won the first two of seven regular-season matchups between the clubs, including one of the wildest and most exciting games of the year in their most recent meeting Aug. 1. This time, Trevor Bauer (10-8, 4.79 ERA) pitches for the Indians against Doug Fister (2-5, 5.03), who took a shutout into the eighth inning and beat Cleveland 6-2 at Fenway Park for his first win of the season July 31.
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
This year's edition of the Subway Series begins with the first of two games at Yankee Stadium, followed by a pair at Citi Field. And even though the depleted Mets (53-62) have been selling off veterans since falling out of the pennant race, there's this bit of drama as a backdrop: Executives on both sides have been sniping at each other in the New York media about recent trade talks between the teams. "I think there will be a ton of excitement in both stadiums," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, they're really important games for us. And I'm sure the Mets consider them really important for them, too, as it's part of the rivalry."
Girardi said his staff has talked about ex-Mets farmhand Luis Cessa (0-3) "probably" being recalled from the minors to start the opener in place of injured pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Rafael Montero (1-8) gets the ball for the Mets.
Odubel Herrera has gotten as much notice for his bat flipping and baserunning blunders as he has for the 16-game hit streak he takes when Philadelphia plays at San Diego.
Herrera was involved in a bizarre play in Sunday's home loss to the Mets when he mistakenly ran into a double play. He was booed the rest of his at-bats and fans yelled at him that he should go back to the minors.