LEADING OFF: Indians changing team name to Guardians

Sports

A guardian rests on the Hope Memorial Bridge within site of Progressive Field, Friday, July 23, 2021, in Cleveland. Cleveland’s new name was inspired by two large landmark stone edifices near the downtown ballpark, referred to as traffic guardians, on the Hope Memorial Bridge over the Cuyahoga River. The team’s colors will remain the same, and the new Guardians’ new logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Saturday:

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GUARDIANS OF THE GAME

After more than 100 years, the Cleveland Indians are getting a new name — the team will be called the Guardians next season.

The name change, which has its supporters and critics among Cleveland’s fan base, ends months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning for institutions and teams to drop logos and names considered racist.

“We do feel like we’re doing the right thing and that’s what’s driving this,” club owner Paul Dolan said Friday. “I know some people disagree, but if anything I’ve gotten more and more comfortable that we’re headed in the right direction.”

The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200.

Cleveland’s new name was inspired by the large landmark stone edifices — referred to as traffic guardians — that flank both ends of the Hope Memorial Bridge, which connects downtown to Ohio City.

ADDING AN ARM

The pitching-depleted Mets have boosted their rotation by getting left-hander Rich Hill from Tampa Bay.

The NL East leaders sent veteran righty Tommy Hunter and minor league catcher Matt Dyer to the Rays.

The 41-year-old Hill is 6-4 with a 3.89 ERA in 19 starts for the contending Rays.

“I think a lot of people in the game know the name — guy that’s been around, pitching good baseball, pitching playoff baseball,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “It’s a great fit, great acquisition. Our front office is being diligent. One of the needs we’ve talked about is our starting pitching need and this is a guy that fits right in.”

Mets ace Jacob deGrom and starter David Peterson are on the injured list. Starters Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco haven’t pitched this year while recovering from injuries.

Rojas said he didn’t know yet when Hill could slot into the Mets’ rotation. New York does not have scheduled starters yet for Sunday’s series finale against Toronto or Monday’s doubleheader against Atlanta.

AILING

Nationals star Stephen Strasburg won’t be back on the mound in the near future.

The 2019 World Series MVP hasn’t pitched since June 1 and has had some neck discomfort recently.

“We backed him down again,” manager Dave Martinez said Friday. “I know they’re going to look at some different options, probably see if we can find another specialist for him to go see.”

The 33-year-old righty is 1-2 with a 4.57 ERA in five starts this year. He was 0-1 in two starts and slowed by health problems during the pandemic-shortened season last year.

CATCH THIS

The age-old practice of stealing signs put down by catchers might become history if testing of an experimental electronic device is successful.

Major League Baseball is giving catchers in the Low A West league the option starting Aug. 3 to use a 12-button transmitter that can be strapped around their wristband with Velcro. Receivers fit inside the sweatband of a pitcher’s cap and the padding of the catcher’s helmet. A tiny speaker is included, with the volume designed so only the player, and not nearby opponents, can hear.

Developed by a company called PitchCom, the device is programmed for signals in English and Spanish. Clubs can add languages on their own, such as Japanese and Korean. MLB hopes the devices will cut down on time spent by pitchers stepping off the rubber and changing signals.

In a major scandal in 2017, the Houston Astros were found to have stolen catchers’ signs using a video camera in the outfield and relayed those signals to batters by banging on a trash can during their run to the World Series title.

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