May 28, 2023


Let's Get It!

Aaron Judge homers, live updates, scores, more

16 min read


Major League Baseball‘s 2023 opening day is here.

We’ll see the debut of overhauled rosters, players in new uniforms, young players trying to prove their worth and veterans wanting to show they’ve still got it. We’ll also see the rule changes play out in regular-season games for the first time.

Aaron Judge looks to follow up his record-breaking 62-homer season as the New York Yankees have the first game of the day — at home against the San Francisco Giants. 

All 30 teams are in action Thursday, and USA TODAY Sports will provide the latest score updates, analysis and more throughout the day. Follow along.

NEW YORK — Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge provided the first home run of the 2023 season when he clocked the second pitch he saw for a home run on Thursday. 

Judge, the reigning AL MVP, drilled a 92 mph sinker from San Francisco Giants starter Logan Webb and deposited it 422 feet into the center field netting at Monument Park in the first inning to get the Yankees on the board. 

Judge hit an AL-record 62 home runs last season and also led the league in five other offensive categories for New York, which is seeking its second straight AL East crown.

— Scooby Axson 

The New York Mets’ injury woes continue as one of their co-aces will not be with the club to begin the season.

Just before they took the field in Miami for their opener against the Marlins, the Mets revealed that Justin Verlander — whom they signed to a two-year, $86.6 million deal this offseason — will be put on the injured list with a teres major strain in his upper arm. 

“Looking back, it’s something that was lingering. I thought it was something I was working through,” Verlander said Thursday. “In my bullpen yesterday, I still felt a teeny bit of something.”

Verlander’s injury comes afterthe Mets lost closer Edwin Diaz to a season-ending torn patellar tendon in a postgame celebration at the World Baseball Classic and left-hander Jose Quintana had bone graft surgery on his rib earlier this month.

The team says Verlander will continue throwing and will come back in a week to see how he’s progressing. 

Verlander, 40, missed the entire 2021 season recovering from Tommy John surgery in his elbow. However, he returned better than ever last year, going 18-4 with a stellar 1.75 ERA and winning his third Cy Young award.

The new shift rule: At the start of each pitch, teams must have at least two infielders on either side of second base, with all four positioned on the infield dirt. Infielders may not switch positions unless there is a substitution.

Pitch clock: There is a 30-second timer between batters and a time limit between pitches. After receiving the ball from the catcher or umpire, pitchers are required to begin their motion within 15 seconds with the bases empty or within 20 seconds with runners on base. Hitters must be in the batter’s box and ready for the pitch by the time the clock reaches 8 seconds. 

Larger bases: The bases are now 18 inches square (previously 15 inches). That decreases the distance between first, second and third base by 4.5 inches. (Home plate – which stays the same size – to first base is 3 inches shorter.)

Pickoff limits: Pitchers are limited to a maximum of two pickoff attempts per plate appearance. If a pitcher attempts a third pickoff throw and doesn’t get the runner out, it’s an automatic balk and all runners move up one base.

— Steve Gardner

Read more on everything you need to know about the rule changes here.

  • Braves LHP Max Fried (14-7, 2.48 ERA in 2022) vs. Nationals LHP Patrick Corbin (6-19, 6.31)
  • Giants RHP Logan Webb (15-9, 2.90) vs. Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole (13-8, 3.50)
  • Orioles RHP Kyle Gibson (10-8, 5.05 with Phillies) vs. Red Sox RHP Corey Kluber (10-10, 4.34 with Rays)
  • Brewers RHP Corbin Burnes (12-8, 2.94) vs. Cubs RHP Marcus Stroman (6-7, 3.50)
  • Tigers LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (5-5, 4.05) vs. Rays LHP Shane McClanahan (12-8, 2.54)
  • Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (11-13, 3.25) vs. Rangers RHP Jacob deGrom (5-4, 3.08 with Mets)
  • Mets RHP Max Scherzer (11-5, 2.29) vs. Marlins RHP Sandy Alcantara (14-9, 2.28)
  • Pirates RHP Mitch Keller (5-12, 3.91) vs. Reds RHP Hunter Greene (5-13, 4.44)
  • Rockies RHP German Marquez (9-13, 4.95) vs. Padres LHP Blake Snell (8-10, 3.38)
  • Blue Jays RHP Alek Manoah (16-7, 2.24) vs. Cardinals RHP Miles Mikolas (12-13, 3.29)
  • Twins RHP Pablo Lopez (10-10, 3.75) vs. Royals RHP Zack Greinke (4-9, 3.68)
  • White Sox RHP Dylan Cease (14-8, 2.20) vs. Astros LHP Framber Valdez (17-6, 2.82)
  • Angels RHP Shohei Ohtani (15-9, 2.33 ERA) vs. A’s LHP Kyle Muller (1-1, 8.03 with Braves)
  • Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (12-4, 2.54 ERA) vs. Dodgers LHP Julio Urías (17-7, 2.16 ERA)
  • Guardians RHP Shane Bieber (13-8, 2.88 ERA) vs. Mariners RHP Luis Castillo (8-6 2.99 ERA)

Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried was cruising along in his opening day start in Washington when he suffered an apparent injury to his left leg in the bottom of the fourth inning. 

Fried grabbed the back of his leg after running over to cover first base on a ball hit by the Nationals’ Dominic Smith.

Fried had allowed one earned run over 3 1/3 innings before giving way to reliever Lucas Leutge with the Braves holding a 4-1 lead.

The way Roger Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young winner, figures it, he would be an even better pitcher now with the pitch clock. 

“I would have used it to my advantage,’’ Clemens said recently. “Back in my day, if you got ahead of a guy 0-and-2, you’d waste a pitch. I’d just hold it and get a pitch clock violation. Now, I’ve got him 1-and-2, and I’d just stand on the mound holding the ball. They wouldn’t know when I was going to throw the next one not. I could even get a second violation and make it 2-and-2. I’d have a huge advantage with the hitter not knowing when I was going to throw that ball. “I called 90 to 95% of my pitches anyway, so I never would have felt rushed with a pitch clock.’

Bob Nightengale

After three years of COVID-19 restrictions and a work stoppage, normalcy has never felt so good.

“I think this could go down as one of the most unbelievable opening days in history when you think about it,’’ MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told USA TODAY Sports last week in a wide-ranging interview in Miami.

“We’re back to normal. We got the most exciting set of rule changes I think ever in the game, really, certainly the biggest set. … I think we have great momentum coming into this year.’’ 

Manfred also discussed the improved pace of play, the financial problems of regional sports networks, MLB teams’ payroll disparities, possible expansion and other issues.

Bob Nightengale

A free subscription to MLB.TV could be just a few clicks call away – depending on your phone carrier.

MLB and T-Mobile announced the continuation of a juicy promotion available to T-Mobile customers, who can get complimentary streaming access to every game during the 2023 MLB season for those who take advantage of the deal. MLB and T-Mobile ran the same promotion in 2022.

Richard Morin

The Los Angeles Angels are planning to pitch Shohei Ohtani more often this year, giving him the ball every fifth day, and providing he stays healthy, who can possibly put a limit on him? This international star generates about $20 million a year for the Los Angeles Angels by his presence alone. If the Angels are out of the race at the trade deadline, would they have the guts to trade Ohtani

Absolutely. They may have no choice. Certainly, they’ll need to have a conversation with Ohtani to determine whether he has any interest in returning, and if not, the phone lines are open with operators standing nearby. 

Bob Nightengale

Major League Baseball, after listening to input from players and managers, made a series of adjustments to their new rules that will go into effect this year, but the pitch clock remains the same, according to a memo sent to clubs last week that was obtained by USA TODAY Sports.

The clarifications were made largely to prevent clubs from circumventing rules on instant replays involving the shift, fake PitchCom malfunctions, providing hitters time to collect themselves after being knocked down or taking a particularly large cut, and reducing an advantage pitchers could have after a batter timeout.

Read Bob Nightengale on the rule tweaks here.

There has never been a hitter not linked to performance-enhancing drugs with back-to-back 60-homer seasons. The last clean player to hit 50 or more homers in consecutive seasons was Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997-98. If Aaron Judge stays healthy, there’s no reason he can’t hit 50 homers again, but only this time, expect him to get intentionally walked more than 19 times like a year ago.

Bob Nightengale

The New York Yankees. Yes, the Yankees have spoiled everyone by coasting to the playoffs for six consecutive years, advancing to the ALCS in three of those years, but has anyone paid attention to those pitching injuries? There are only two starters remaining from their original projected rotation: Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes. The Yankees still are good, but intimidating? Uh-uh. Could they possibly miss the playoffs? Don’t be shocked.

Bob Nightengale

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels 

NL MVP: Trea Turner, Phillies 

AL Cy Young: Emmanuel Clase, Guardians 

NL Cy Young: Zac Gallen, Diamondbacks 

AL Rookie: Gunnar Henderson, Orioles 

NL Rookie: Corbin Carroll, Diamondbacks 

Bob Nightengale

The value of MLB teams increased by 12% despite the bankruptcy filing of the Diamond Sports Group, according to Forbes, raising the average value of franchises to $2.32 billion, led again by the New York Yankees at $7.1 billion.

Bob Nightengale

Several of the small-market owners who are crying poor, and have sub-$100 million payrolls, are actually making the most money, angering the union and large-market teams. The Oakland A’s ($62.2 million) ranked fifth among teams who made the most money while the Pittsburgh Pirates ($51.5 million) ranked eighth and the Kansas City Royals earned $27.8 million. 

Meanwhile, the New York Mets, with their current $355 million payroll, lost an MLB-leading $138.5 million last year while the San Diego Padres ($55.2 million) and Chicago White Sox ($53.4 million) lost the second- and third-most money. The Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, the two largest-market teams in baseball, earned $16.3 million and $14.3 million, by comparison. The Boston Red Sox, who significantly lowered their payroll, earned $71.6 million, third behind the Seattle Mariners ($83.8 million) and the San Francisco Giants ($74.9 million).

Bob Nightengale

MLB teams earned an average profit of $17.7 million, last year which is down 20% from a year ago.

Bob Nightengale 

Bob Nightengale: Blue Jays 

Gabe Lacques: Yankees

Steve Gardner: Blue Jays

Stephen Borelli: Yankees

Scott Boeck: Yankees

Jesse Yomtov: Yankees

Bob Nightengale: Guardians

Gabe Lacques: Guardians

Steve Gardner: Guardians

Stephen Borelli: Guardians

Scott Boeck: White Sox

Jesse Yomtov: Guardians

Bob Nightengale: Astros

Gabe Lacques: Astros

Steve Gardner: Astros

Stephen Borelli: Astros

Scott Boeck: Astros

Jesse Yomtov: Astros

Bob Nightengale: Atlanta

Gabe Lacques: Atlanta

Steve Gardner: Atlanta

Stephen Borelli: Atlanta

Scott Boeck: Atlanta

Jesse Yomtov: Atlanta

Bob Nightengale: Cardinals

Gabe Lacques: Cardinals

Steve Gardner: Cardinals

Stephen Borelli: Cardinals

Scott Boeck: Cardinals

Jesse Yomtov: Cardinals

Bob Nightengale: Padres

Gabe Lacques: Padres

Steve Gardner: Padres

Stephen Borelli: Dodgers

Scott Boeck: Padres

Jesse Yomtov: Dodgers

Bob Nightengale: Guardians

Gabe Lacques: Yankees

Steve Gardner: Blue Jays

Stephen Borelli: Astros

Scott Boeck: Astros

Jesse Yomtov: Astros

Bob Nightengale: Phillies

Gabe Lacques: Padres

Steve Gardner: Atlanta

Stephen Borelli: Padres

Scott Boeck: Padres

Jesse Yomtov: Padres

Bob Nightengale: Guardians

Gabe Lacques: Padres

Steve Gardner: Atlanta

Stephen Borelli: Padres

Scott Boeck: Padres

Jesse Yomtov: Astros

USA TODAY Sports’ six-person panel has produced this projection of all 30 teams’ win totals this season:

Although it’s not new in 2023, MLB said this offseason it was permanently implementing a provision in use since 2020 that every half inning after the ninth begins with a runner on second base. The idea was first instituted in 2020 to cut down on long games and prevent pitchers being overused in the pandemic-shortened season. It added a new layer of strategy and increased scoring considerably in extra innings — with teams and players overwhelmingly expressing their support for keeping it.

Steve Gardner

Let’s take a look at the new rules to see how they might impact the numbers and our quest for a fantasy baseball title this season.

Eliminating the shift: Great news for lefty hitters Corey Seager, Kyle Tucker and Kyle Schwarber, who faced the shift in more than 600 of their total plate appearances last season (or over 90% of them). Other players who should benefit from the shift rule include José Ramirez, Max Kepler, Max Muncy, Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez, Matt Olson and even right-handed hitter Eugenio Suarez.

Larger bases encourage stealing: Trea Turner, Bobby Witt Jr., Julio Rodriguez and Jake McCarthy will be among the favorites to lead their leagues in steals. Other speedsters who could run more often include Tyler O’Neill (14-for-18 in SB attempts in 2022), Amed Rosario (18-for-22), Leody Taveras (11-for-16), Lane Thomas (8-for-12), Jeremy Peña (11-for-13) and Jazz Chisholm (12-for-17). All of them ranked in the 94th percentile or above in sprint speed, but none swiped as many as 20 bases a year ago.

Pitch clock speeds things up: We do know Corbin Burnes, Shohei Ohtani, Luis Garcia, Aaron Nola and Alek Manoah are among the pitchers who tend to work more slowly. Relievers Devin Williams, Kenley Jansen, Kyle Finnegan and Ryan Helsley also like to take their time. Plus, hitters Pete Alonso and Mark Canha are among the most deliberate at the plate.

Steve Gardner

Anthony Volpe has arrived, at age 21, and will jog out to his position on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon to hold down one of the most prestigious positions in sports. And that alone speaks both for the Yankees’ hopes for the young man and his potential to fulfill them. — Gabe Lacques

Anthony Volpe is a Tri-State kid, pride of Watchung, New Jersey, and Morristown’s Delbarton School, from where you can reach Yankee Stadium in less than an hour, with cooperation from various bridges and thoroughfares. He attended Jeter’s last All-Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium in 2014 and wore No. 7 as a tribute to Mickey Mantle, his grandfather’s favorite player.

Gabe Lacques

Listed at 5-11 and 180 pounds, Anthony Volpe a bit smaller than most of the big-money shortstops the Yankees bypassed. But his career .881 OPS in the minor leagues shows that frame can generate power, and Volpe should continue to fill out for the next several years. 

“I think he’s got all the makeup tools,” reigning AL MVP and freshly minted captain Aaron Judge said earlier this month. “My thing has always been, if you’re the best player, it shouldn’t matter your age. You should be up helping the New York Yankees. It doesn’t matter if you’re 19 or 41. “If you’re the best guy for the job, you should be playing.”

— Gabe Lacques

Heralded shortstop prospect Anthony Volpe will be 21 years, 336 days old on Opening Day. Only four Yankees have made their MLB debuts on Opening Day at a younger age:

1951 Mickey Mantle: 19 years, 179 days

1930 Ben Chapman: 21 years, 111 days

1962 Joe Pepitone: 21 years, 183 days

1932 Frankie Crosetti: 21 years 191 days

— Bob Nightengale

One American League GM predicts that the Yankees would miss out on the playoffs this spring, and this was before their rotation took hit after hit. The Yankees opened the spring with a starting rotation of Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes and Frankie Montas. Only Cole and Cortes stayed healthy, with Severino the latest to go down with a lat strain. Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German are the replacements and Jhony Brito could be he fifth starter, if needed.

Bob Nightengale

The truth is that this is a spring in which Terry Francona has shown new life, new energy and gusto. This is the healthiest he has felt in years. He ditched his walking boot, tossed away his crutches and gave away his electric golf cart. 

There’s just something about managing a young, talented and athletic team, believing it can go where no Cleveland baseball team has gone since 1948. 

“This is as energetic as I’ve seen him,’’ said Guardians GM Mike Chernoff, “in the 11 years he’s been here. It is really, really fun to see. And so good for our team. People feed off that energy that he brings. 

“But even when he was in tremendous pain, and not doing well, he’s still really, really good, and in my opinion, the best manager in baseball.’’

Bob Nightengale

Houston Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve suffered a broken right thumb when he was hit by a pitch in a World Baseball Classic quarterfinal against Team USA that required surgery. General manager Dana Brown said there is no timetable for Altuve’s return.

Altuve, the 2017 American League MVP who turns 33 in May, is an eight-time All-Star and Brown told reporters his loss is a “massive blow.” The Astros, the reigning World Series champions, will likely be without Altuve well into May.

Gabe Lacques

Edwin Diaz, the Mets’ outstanding closer whose $105 million contract was a crucial portion of the club’s massive offseason spending in hopes of a World Series run, crumbled to the turf amid Puerto Rico’s celebration after eliminating the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Subsequent tests revealed a patellar tendon injury that will sideline Diaz an estimated eight months, Mets GM Billy Eppler said. It is a blow to his Puerto Rican brothers and his Mets teammates both.

Gabe Lacques

As Major League Baseball’s 2023 season dawns, USA TODAY Sports examines five players who may not take home any individual hardware, but whose teams’ success may hinge on their health and production.

Yankees’ Nestor Cortes: The game moves quickly at the big league level, both between the lines and in a team’s pecking order. For Nestor Cortes, the 5-10 Yankees left-hander, he’s no longer the surprise All-Star, the nice little story of persevering through nearly eight years of minor league ball and organization hopping to stick in New York.

Astros’ Kyle Tucker: It is not Tucker’s team to inherit. But now would be time to take that next step toward MVP candidate.All the tools are there: Tucker, at 25, slugged 30 home runs and produced a 128 adjusted OPS last season, and smacked two homers in Game 1 of the World Series. His 129 weighted runs created plus put him in a rent district with Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Mets’ Starling Marte: When Marte is healthy, few are better, as he showed last year. Heck, he played through not just the finger but also quadricep and groin ailments, the latter requiring postseason surgery. On a team where six everyday players are at least 30 and three starting pitchers between 36 and 40, maintenance will be crucial. Getting their All-Star right fielder to October – when he turns 35 – might be most important.

Cubs’ Dansby Swanson: It’s imperative he show that the 26 homers he averaged his final two seasons in Atlanta is his new normal. That his only season as an above league-average hitter – that would be 2022 – is a harbinger of future production and not an apex. And that quarterbacking a five-time division winner lends itself to reshaping the culture in Chicago, a place they once expected to win, too.

Padres’ Blake Snell: A groin injury to start the season limited Snell to 24 starts, but he struck out 171 in 128 innings. With Darvish idled and Joe Musgrove nearing a return from a toe injury, it is Snell who will lead the charge to start this year. At the end, he will be a free agent, heading to the market for the first time and with agent Scott Boras in tow.

Gabe Lacques

A well-selected sleeper who outperforms his preseason projection could potentially be the difference in winning a league championship.

Here’s one player at every position you should consider as a sleeper pick this season. — Steve Gardner

We ranked the top 250 for 2023. As for how our top 250 shakes out by position, there are 152 hitters, 97 pitchers … and one Shohei Ohtani. Check out our complete list.

Steve Gardner

USA TODAY is here to get you fully prepared for the season with exclusive rankings and essential information to help win your league championship. Here is your complete draft kit, including overall player rankings and position by position rankings.

SS/3B Gunnar Henderson, Orioles: Expectations are high for the favorite to win American League Rookie of the Year. The 2019 second round draft pick had a strong showing (.264 with a .788 OPS) in 34 games last season and even homered in his second major-league at-bat on Aug. 31. Henderson, 21, who has power and speed, is positioned to play a significant role this season, likely splitting time on the left side of the infield. 

With a pitch clock and a shift ban heralding a new and potentially action-infused era in the game, the rookies and first-year players leaving a mark on the season will have grown up with these rules in the minor leagues, where game experimentation has been the norm for a decade. 

Now, those players are ready for prime time – and ready for a major impact. That’s reflected in USA TODAY Sports’ list of 100 Names You Need To Know for 2023. 

This collection of talent from all 30 teams reflects not necessarily the top prospects, but rather those you will almost certainly see bubble up from the bushes this year. The players are ranked by both prospect pedigree and path to find a significant role this season. 

Here is the complete list of all 100 players.

Instead of trying to make logical sense of everything this opening day, let’s allow our minds to wander and consider some (admittedly long-shot) predictions that could define the 2023 season. Maybe Trea Turner stealing 65 bases, Shohei Ohtani sweeping AL MVP and Cy Young, Brandon Belt hitting 30 dingers for the first time and more. 

Steve Gardner

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