Bartolo's return to Queens among reunions to watch for
By Manny Randhawa
Opening Day is behind us, but there are still plenty of dates on the baseball calendar worth circling. For example, several players will don new uniforms after leaving indelible impressions on their former clubs, and one of those notable reunions is scheduled to take place tonight.
With that in mind, here's a look at when a few high-profile prodigal sons are set to return to their old stomping grounds this season to face their former teammates in front of their old fans.
Bartolo Colon faces the Mets at Citi Field: Tonight, 7:10 p.m. ET
In three seasons with the Mets, Colon averaged 196 innings, a 3.90 ERA and 1.3 walks per nine innings. He was indispensable, particularly when other Mets hurlers were sidelined with injuries, including Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler.
Colon, entering his 20th MLB season, will face deGrom on Wednesday after signing a one-year deal with Atlanta last November.
"I'm happy and I'm excited," Colon said. "I've done it before in my career. I've opened against other teams I have pitched for. The difference is you do it in New York, one of the biggest cities in the world."
Sergio Romo returns to AT&T Park: April 24
Romo was one of the key arms in a bullpen that helped the Giants win three World Series titles from 2010-14, it'll likely be jarring for fans at AT&T Park to see him in Dodger blue.
The Giants' storied rivals signed Romo to a one-year deal in February. The 34-year-old right-hander pitched his entire career to this point with San Francisco, posting a 2.58 ERA and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in nine seasons.
Most notably, Romo struck out American League Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to finish off a sweep of the Tigers in the 2012 World Series, clinching the Giants' second title in three seasons.
Koji Uehara returns to Fenway Park: April 28
When the Cubs signed Uehara to a one-year deal last December, they acquired a reliever who has thrown the final pitch of a World Series as part of a strong four-year run with the Red Sox.
Uehara posted a 1.09 ERA with 101 strikeouts and just nine walks in 74 1/3 innings for Boston in 2013. That October, he was named the AL Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award winner with five scoreless appearances against the Tigers. He capped it off by striking out the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter to clinch the franchise's first World Series title at Fenway Park in 95 years.
Aroldis Chapman returns to Wrigley Field: May 5
Chapman was only a Cub for about three months, but he made his short stay with the North Siders memorable, helping them win their first World Series title in 108 years. The flame-throwing left-hander struck out 46 batters in 26 2/3 innings for Chicago last season, posting a 1.01 ERA after the Yankees dealt him to the Cubs in July.
Having pitched in the National League Central while with the Reds, Chapman has faced the Cubs 36 times, boasting a 1.46 ERA and 65 strikeouts.
Matt Wieters returns to Camden Yards: May 8
The Orioles selected Wieters fifth overall in the 2007 MLB Draft. The switch-hitting catcher was a four-time All-Star and two-time AL Gold Glove Award winner in eight seasons with Baltimore.
Following two injury-shortened seasons, the Orioles decided not to bring Wieters back, and he signed with the neighboring Nationals.
Edwin Encarnacion returns to Rogers Centre: May 8
With Wieters and Encarnacion returning to their old stomping grounds, May 8 will be a big day for reunions. From 2009-16, Encarnacion was an anchor in the middle of the Blue Jays' lineup, hitting 239 home runs and slugging .522 for Toronto. Last October, he belted a walk-off home run against the Orioles to send the Jays to the ALDS.
But that would be Encarnacion's final home run as a Blue Jay. He signed a three-year deal with the Indians in January. Coincidentally, it was Cleveland that defeated Toronto to win the AL pennant last season.
Dexter Fowler returns to Wrigley Field: June 2
Fowler only spent two seasons with the Cubs, but he turned in the best offensive campaign of his career for Chicago in 2016, posting a 126 OPS+. He hit three homers for the Cubs in the postseason, including one to lead off Game 7 of the World Series.
Fowler joined the Cubs' NL Central rival, the Cardinals, on a five-year, $82.5 million deal last December. He'll be back at Wrigley Field for the first time since Game 5 of the World Series when St. Louis comes in for a three-game set.
Brandon Phillips returns to Great American Ball Park: June 2
Phillips manned second base for the Reds for 11 seasons, signing a six-year, $72.5 million extension in 2012. He was a three-time All-Star and four-time NL Gold Glove Award winner in that span, helping Cincinnati reach the postseason in 2010, '12 and '13.
The Braves acquired the 35-year-old Phillips for two Minor League pitchers in February. Phillips has never played at Great American Ball Park in a visiting team's uniform, but he will for the first time when Atlanta visits the Queen City in June.
Greg Holland returns to Kauffman Stadium: August 22
The Rockies signed Holland to bolster their bullpen this offseason. The 31-year-old right-hander hasn't pitched in a Major League game since 2015, coming off Tommy John surgery.
Holland spent all six seasons of his career to this point with Kansas City, including back-to-back All-Star campaigns in 2013 and '14. He was stellar in the 2014 postseason, posting a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings, striking out 15, while helping the Royals reach their first World Series in almost 30 years.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.