LEADING OFF: Stumbling Cubs face Bucs, HR Derby updates

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Adbert Alzolay

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay delivers during the second inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

A look at what’s happening around the majors Monday:

BEAR DOWN

The slumping Cubs hope to get right as rookie Adbert Alzolay (1-0) starts against Pittsburgh. Chicago has dropped 3 of 4 and finished June 14-15, its first losing month since May 2017. Alzolay has allowed two runs in 8 2/3 innings over two appearances. He’ll oppose Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (2-2, 4.25).

BIG SWINGERS

Two spots remain open for the Home Run Derby and need to be filled before Wednesday’s formal announcement of the field. Six of the eight participants are known: Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr., the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso, Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell and Cleveland’s Carlos Santana. All-Star Texas slugger Joey Gallo seems a promising fit for one of those slots, but he said Sunday he still hasn’t been invited.

MINOR’S LEAGUE

Unlikely All-Star Mike Minor makes his first start since being added to the roster for his first Midsummer Classic. The Rangers left-hander is 8-4 with a 2.40 ERA, coming all the way back from a two-year MLB absence after injuries derailed his career to make this year’s AL squad. The 31-year-old will pitch the opener of a series against the Angels, who are 4 1/2 games behind Texas for the second AL wild card.

OH CANADA

The Blue Jays will play a rare Monday matinee as part of Canada Day festivities. Toronto hosts Kansas City in the finale of a four-game series, with LHP Clayton Richard (0-4) seeking his first win of the season for the Blue Jays. It will be the first Canada Day game for rookie Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and it’ll come a day after he joined the Home Run Derby field for next week’s showcase in Cleveland. The 20-year-old Guerrero will become the youngest player ever to participate in the derby, edging Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990.

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