LEADING OFF: Pujols waits for Reggie's call, Hamels out

A look at what's happening all around the majors today:

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LEGENDARY CALL

Albert Pujols will be waiting by the phone to hear from Reggie Jackson after tying the Hall of Famer with his 563rd home run Sunday. ''He always calls me whenever something like that happens,'' Pujols said. ''When I hit those three homers in that World Series game, he called me the next day to congratulate me.''

HAMELS SCRATCHED

Rangers lefty Cole Hamels was scratched from his scheduled start because of a strained left groin muscle. The injury isn't considered serious and there is no plan to put him on the disabled list. Lefty Cesar Ramos will be recalled from Triple-A to start in Hamels' spot against Yankees right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (0-2, 6.11 ERA).

ALMOST THERE

Indians OF Michael Brantley (shoulder) will meet the Indians in Minnesota for a medical examination and could be activated if he passes. Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Brantley could return to the active roster even if he's not ready to play every day.

ANOTHER TOUGH OPPONENT

In his last three starts, Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (1-2, 3.91) has faced Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw twice and Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke. His next assignment - Padres LHP Drew Pomeranz (2-1, 2.04) - may not be much easier to beat. The 27-year-old Pomeranz struck out 10 his last time out and has 25 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings this season.

HAPPY NEW YEAR?

How good can 27 be for Steven Souza Jr.? It's off to a fine start after the Rays outfielder homered twice on his birthday in an 8-1 win Sunday against the Yankees. Souza became the first major leaguer to hit two homers on his birthday since Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe in June 2012. ''I'll play him next year (again),'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. Tampa Bay opens an eight-game homestand against Baltimore.

THOR AT HOME

The Mets begin a nine-game homestand with RHP Noah Syndergaard (2-0, 0.90) slated to start against Cincinnati RHP Raisel Iglesias (1-1, 3.09). Syndergaard struck out eight and pitched one-run ball through seven innings last time out against Philadelphia.

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