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Astros, Braves start final World Series prep

Jorge Soler of the Atlanta Braves beats a tag at second base by Trea Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the eighth inning of Game Six of the National League Championship Series at Truist Park on Oct. 23, 2021 (October 24 in Manila) in Atlanta, Georgia. AFP PHOTO

THE Astros and Braves are making final preparations in Houston before opening the World Series on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila). Both teams are set to work out at Minute Maid Park.

A few roster decisions need to be made, but both clubs have already declared starters for Game 1. Framber Valdez will go for Houston after delivering eight terrific innings in a 9-1 win in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series against Boston.

Atlanta, meanwhile, is going with Charlie Morton, who pitched for Houston from 2017-18 and got the win in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.

The Astros have not provided much new information on the health of ace Lance McCullers Jr., who was left off the ALCS roster because of a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm. McCullers still hasn’t started throwing, but general manager James Click would not rule out his return.

“We’re not taking anything off the table,” Click said.

The Astros are considering their options for how to get the big bat of Yordan Alvarez in the lineup when the series moves to Atlanta for Game 3 and they lose the designated hitter.

After missing last year’s postseason while recovering from double knee surgery, Alvarez batted an ALCS-record.522 (12 for 23) with one homer, three doubles, a triple and six RBIs, earning series MVP honors.

Michael Brantley is Houston’s regular left fielder, but Alvarez appeared in 41 games at the position this season and that’s where he’s likely to play at Atlanta. Brantley would move to right field, shifting Kyle Tucker to center to keep his bat in the lineup. It could take time away from rangy center fielders Jake Meyers — who was on the ALCS roster but didn’t play due to a shoulder injury — Chas McCormick and José Siri.

Eliminated by Atlanta, the reigning World Series champion Dodgers are beginning the process of figuring out what’s next for a roster facing significant upheaval.

Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor will become free agents after the World Series, and more core stars could have their contracts expire in the next couple years, too.

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