McCutchen 1st hit of MLB season, as NL DH, with No. 21 patch

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Ukrainian flags are seen outside Wrigley Field as fans arrive for the Chicago Cubs home-opener baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

Andrew McCutchen of the Milwaukee Brewers got the first hit of the 2022 Major League Baseball season. As a National League designated hitter. Wearing a Roberto Clemente No. 21 patch, too.

New season, new look across the majors on opening day.

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McCutchen sliced a double in the second inning into the right-field corner, down near the dead ivy on the brick wall at Wrigley Field, as the Brewers played the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. In the fourth inning, McCutchen singled and also scored the first run of the year.

Nico Hoerner of the Cubs hit the first home run of the season, connecting off reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes for a two-run drive in the fifth.

Earlier games postponed by inclement weather at Yankee Stadium and Minnesota made the Brewers-Cubs matchup the first of the year. It was a raw 44 degrees when Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks threw the first pitch, which Kolten Wong lofted for a wind-blown popout.

The MLB season originally was set to begin on March 31, but was pushed back because of a 99-day lockout as owners and players worked on a new labor contract.

As part of the deal, the National League has now permanently adopted the designated hitter — the American League began using it in 1973, and the NL added it for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before going back to letting pitchers hit last year.

McCutchen, the 2013 NL MVP with Pittsburgh, signed as a free agent with Milwaukee in the offseason. He led off the top of the second inning with his double. Two innings later, he singled and eventually scored on a groundout by Lorenzo Cain.

The 35-year-old McCutchen is among several Roberto Clemente Award winners who will wear No. 21 — the number worn by the late Pirates Hall of Famer — on the backs of their hats and helmets for the rest of their careers.

MLB said it was a “special tribute to his enduring legacy.” The announcement was timed for the 50th anniversary of the year in which Clemente, the Pittsburgh great from Puerto Rico, died in a plane crash while on a humanitarian relief effort.


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