Shane Bieber to start Guardians’ season opener in KC

GOODYEAR, Arizona (AP) — Shane Bieber will throw the first pitch for the Cleveland Guardians.

As expected, Bieber will start the season opener on April 7 at the Kansas City Royals. Manager Terry Francona made the formal announcement Thursday after speaking to the right-hander, who missed three months last season with a shoulder strain.

Bieber will be the 12th pitcher in franchise history to make three consecutive opening-day starts.

The 26-year-old went 7-4 with a 3.17 ERA last season, but made only 16 starts because of the shoulder injury. He’s back to 100% now, but Francona wanted to double check Bieber was set given the accelerated, abbreviated spring training due to the lockout.

“We just wanted to make sure that he was ready and if we needed to alter it, because the way we’re coming into the season isn’t the way guys pitched,” Francona said. “It’s just because it’s a short spring and we need to give them the best chance to be as ready as they can be.”

Bieber has split his two previous opening-day starts. He struck out 14 in a win over the Royals in 2020 on his way to winning the Cy Young. Last year, he struck out 12 in a loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Francona hasn’t set his rotation for the season’s first week.

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