deGrom goes for Mets; Samardzija, Frazier set to face former teams
By Chad Thornburg
Just days after the historic contest in Cuba, two more Major League clubs will take the field south of the border. The Padres and Astros will open a two-game exhibition series today in Mexico City, marking the first time a big league club has played in Mexico since 2004.
While Houston and San Diego clash in Mexico City, the spring schedule continues in Arizona and Florida with a 17-game slate. And today, nearly all of the Grapefruit and Cactus League action is available for streaming live on MLB.TV.
Here's a few things to watch for throughout the day (all times ET):
Shark faces familiar foe: SF@CHC, 4:05 p.m., MLB.TV Jeff Samardzija will take the mound for his final spring tuneup, pitching against his first Major League club. Samardzija spent the first six-and-a-half seasons of his big league career with the Cubs, the team that selected him in the fifth round of the 2006 Draft. Now, he returns to Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., as the Giants' projected No. 3 starter after inking a five-year, $90 million contract in the offseason.
Samardzija has struggled at times this spring, racking up an 8.53 ERA through five starts. Although he surrendered six runs -- including two homers -- his last time out, the right-hander was still happy with his progress, particularly with his split-fingered fastball.
"It's Spring Training, man," Samardzija said, downplaying the home runs. "I feel good, man. That was a great day out there. The ball was down. Everything was where we wanted."
Opposite Samardzija will be Cubs righty John Lackey, making his third Cactus League start. Lackey last pitched in a Minor League game, limiting his opponents to just one hit over six innings.
Frazier gets reacquainted with Reds: CIN@CHW, 3:05 p.m., MLB.TV Todd Frazier will take the field opposite many of his old teammates as the White Sox host his former club, the Reds, in the afternoon contest of a rare spring split-doubleheader. Frazier joined Chicago this offseason as part of a three-team trade with the Reds and Dodgers. The 30-year-old spent his entire five-year Major League career with Cincinnati, including back-to-back All-Star campaigns in 2014-15. Southpaw Carlos Rodon will get the ball for the White Sox, while Brandon Finnegan starts for the Reds.
Doolittle returns to A's 'pen: OAK@KC, 4:05 p.m., MLB.TV
The A's will welcome back closer Sean Doolittle against the defending World Series champion Royals at Surprise Stadium. Doolittle hasn't pitched in a Cactus League game since March 13; he's been limited by a slight triceps strain, but he is expected to be ready for Opening Day. Right-hander Chris Bassitt will start opposite Kansas City's Chien-Ming Wang. The Royals' right-hander is competing for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Padres' Shields takes on Heaney, Angels: SD@LAA, 4:10 p.m., MLB.TV
With much of the roster in Mexico City, James Shields will hang back with a split-squad team to face the Angels in Tempe, Ariz. Shields survived an injury scare in his last start, taking a line drive off his left hamstring, but said he was fine after the game.
For the Angels, left-hander Andrew Heaney will make his fourth Cactus League start. A near-lock to make the rotation, Heaney has allowed just two runs in nine innings this spring.
Dodgers, Mariners clash in Peoria, Ariz.: LAD@SEA, 4:10 p.m., MLB.TV
It hasn't all been smooth sailing for Scott Kazmir's first spring with the Dodgers. He's 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA through his first three Cactus League starts (7 2/3 innings). Kazmir's last outing was an improvement, however, as he allowed just one earned run in four innings. He'll look to build upon that against the Mariners in Peoria. Wade Miley will take the mound for Seattle. The Mariners' likely No. 3 starter has a 5.40 ERA through three spring appearances.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.