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Thread: 2018 MLB Spring Training Look At All Teams-Trades-Rumours-Injuries ETC. !

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  1. #176  
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    PHI at DET 01:05 PM
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  2. #177  
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    Sale, Duffy become latest aces forced to make early exits
    March 24, 2018

    Chris Sale and his fellow aces are having all sorts of trouble with these tuneup starts.

    Sale was knocked off the mound by a line drive Saturday and exited with a bruised left hip. He said the injury wasn't serious and wouldn't jeopardize his opening day start for the AL East champions Thursday at Tampa Bay.

    ''I don't see anything lingering from this,'' Sale said. ''Looked a lot worse than it really is.''

    Sale was hit by a liner off the bat of Houston's J.D. Davis in the first inning. He crumpled to the ground, then walked off the field under his own power.

    On Friday, San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner sustained a broken finger on his pitching hand when he was struck by a line drive. He will miss at least a month.

    The same day, Tampa Bay star Chris Archer - set to pitch against Sale - was hit by a grounder in the forearm of his pitching arm and had to leave a minor league game.

    Hours after Sale was hurt, Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy exited in the third inning because of shoulder tightness. He said he expected to be OK to start on opening day at home against the White Sox.

    ''I think the baseball gods know I can't stand spring training and they just wanted to give me a little bit more miserable time throwing here,'' Duffy said.



    Eduardo Nunez had three hits for Boston and Xander Bogaerts hit his third home run. Derek Fisher had two hits for Houston.


    Luis Severino made his final spring start for New York's split squad, pitching five innings and allowing two runs and two hits and two walks, striking out seven. Atlanta ace Julio Tehran went five innings, giving up two runs and three hits while fanning five.

    Yankees first baseman Greg Bird was held out with a sore right foot, and is scheduled to be evaluated Monday in New York for inflammation. He is batting .154 and was limited to 48 regular-season games last season because of a lingering right ankle injury.


    Giancarlo Stanton hit his second home run for New York's split squad and Didi Gregorius homered for the fourth time. Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 2, leaving him at .076 this spring, and will start the season on the disabled list with an oblique injury. Randal Grichuk and Kevin Pillar homered for Toronto.


    Washington ace Max Scherzer got ready for opening day, pitching seven innings and giving up four runs and eight hits while striking out nine. Yadiel Rivera had three hits, drove in three runs and stole a base for Miami.


    Michael Conforto played the field for the first time since shoulder surgery last year, starting in center and going 0 for 2 for New York. Todd Frazier had three hits for the Mets and Marcell Ozuna doubled twice for St. Louis.

    The Mets sent Zack Wheeler to Triple-A after he posted an 8.10 ERA in 10 innings this spring.


    Opening day starter Jordan Zimmermann made his final start for Detroit, working five innings and giving up four runs and nine hits, striking out six.

    Philadelphia released six-time All-Star Francisco Rodriguez after the reliever posted a 5.40 ERA in eight appearances this spring. The 36-year-old was guaranteed $2.5 million if he made the opening day roster.


    Josh Harrison doubled twice for Pittsburgh and David Freese had two hits. Ivan Nova allowed two runs in three innings. Blake Snell struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings for Tampa Bay.


    Cleveland ace Corey Kluber allowed two runs and three hits in six innings. Roberto Perez had his fifth homer and Mike Napoli had two hits and stole a base. Cole Hamels pitched three scoreless innings for Texas and Elvis Andrus homered.

    The Rangers released 44-year-old pitcher Bartolo Colon from his minor league contract. They might still renegotiate with him - Colon has pitched well this spring and could slot in as their fifth starter because Martin Perez will open the season on the disabled list.

    Texas minor league coach and former big league slugger Howard Johnson was hit in the face by a line drive and carried from the dugout on a stretcher. He was taken to a hospital.


    Christian Yelich homered, doubled and drove in four runs from the leadoff spot. Lorenzo Cain added an RBI single and is batting .450 in his first spring with Milwaukee.

    Jonathan Lucroy lined out in his only at-bat and is 0 for 12 since signing with Oakland. Athletics slugger Khris Davis struck out in his lone trip and is hitting .114 in 44 at-bats.


    Alex Wood went five innings for the Dodgers, permitting two earned runs and five hits. Avisail Garcia's sacrifice fly capped a four-run fifth for Chicago.

    Austin Barnes homered for Los Angeles.

    PADRES 6, REDS 2

    Wil Myers, who homered, and Manuel Margot each had two hits for San Diego. Clayton Richard pitched three shutout innings for the Padres. Brandon Finnegan, competing for the fifth spot in Cincinnati's rotation, allowed two runs on six hits, working three innings. Amir Garrett, also trying for that last spot, entered in the fifth and allowed four runs in four innings while striking out six.


    Nick Ahmed hit a three-run double and walked three times for Arizona's split squad. Los Angeles starter Tyler Skaggs was roughed up, pitching three innings and surrendering four runs on four hit and five walks.


    Zack Godley started for Arizona's split squad and pitched two-hit ball for seven innings, giving up a home run to Mike Moustakas.

    Frank Schwindel hit a tying homer in the ninth for the Royals. He has 14 hits in his last 18 at-bats, including seven home runs. He started out the spring 0 for 19.
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  3. #178  
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    Sunday’s 6-pack

    Over/under totals for pitching wins this year:

    16.5 Max Scherzer

    15.5 Justin Verlander

    14.5 David Price

    13.5 Kyle Hendricks

    13.5 Noah Syndergaard

    12.5 Johnny Cueto

    Quote of the Day
    “I really think it could be a record-type thing, this could be another 10 years. Coach (Saban) is extremely healthy, he takes care of himself and you know, people are supposed to lose things as they get up there in age but he doesn’t at all. He doesn’t slow down. He drives himself — he works harder than anyone in the building, regardless of whether it’s a 25-year-old or not. I think him stopping would only be because… by choice he wanted, not for any other reason. He ain’t going to slow down.”
    Lane Kiffin, talking about Nick Saban

    Sunday’s quiz
    Who was the last offensive player the Jets drafted in the first round?

    Saturday’s quiz
    Lance Alworth, the great WR from the Chargers, was the first player from the AFL inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Friday’s quiz
    Kevin Bacon played the losing lawyer in the climactic scene of A Few Good Men.


    Sunday’s List of 13: Random weekend stuff…..

    13) Loyola, Chi 79, Kansas State 62— Much like #11-seeds George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011, who both came from the CAA, Ramblers come from the relative obscurity of the MVC to make the Final Four. No one saw this coming.

    Not only has Loyola won four NCAA tourney games, they had to win the MVC tournament or they would’ve been playing in the NIT.

    Ramblers didn’t have to play #2-seed Cincinnati after the Bearcats blew a 22-point lead to Nevada. #1-seed Virginia lost to a damn #16-seed, and Loyola took advantage of all that.

    Loyola’s first three NCAA tournament wins were by total of four points:
    — Ramblers were down 60-55 with 2:46 left in first round vs Miami.
    — Loyola needed a lucky bounce on a jumper with 0:03.6 left to nip Tennessee, 63-62
    — Loyola was down 20-8 early against Nevada, hung on at the end of its 69-68 win.

    12) By way of comparison, two of George Mason’s four NCAA tourney wins in 2011 were by double figures- they were an underdog in three of the four games.

    VCU had to win an additional play-in game, but four of their five NCAA tourney wins were by double figure margins- they were an underdog in all five of those wins.

    11) A final question on the George Mason/VCU thing; does Porter Moser jump for bigger money? He’ll be in demand. Neither coach at Mason/VCU bolted right away.

    In 2006, Jim Larranaga was coach at George Mason; he went 107-59 at Mason the next five years, then jumped to Miami, the ACC and a lot more money.

    In 2011, Shaka Smart was VCU’s coach; he went 109-35 the next four years before going to Texas and the big $$$ of the Big X.

    10) Michigan 58, Florida State 54— Seminoles went 8:00 without a basket down stretch, then made some questionable decisions on who to foul in last 1:30.

    Unusual stat; in the West Region final the last 21 years, underdogs are 17-4 vs spread.

    9) I love a good coincidence; USC just hired an assistant basketball coach who has two sons, both of whom are 6-10 or taller and are both in high school. Go figure.

    Trojans hired Eric Mobley, an AAU coach for the last 11 years. From

    “His oldest son, Isaiah, is a 6-foot-10 high school junior and the No. 44-ranked prospect in the Class of 2019, while his youngest son, Evan, is 6-foot-10 and considered one of the top players in the country in the Class of 2020.”

    I wonder where they’ll go to college?

    8) Steph Curry is out with Grade 2 MCL sprain; he might be back for the start of the playoffs.

    7) Ferris State 71, Northern State 69— Fun game to watch, for the D2 national title.

    Ferris State’s president played the clarinet in the school band during this game. I’m guessing the university president at Kentucky or Duke doesn’t still play in the school band.

    Ferris State’s mascot is a bulldog; I’m disappointed they’re not the Ferris Wheels.

    6) Dustin Johnson hit a golf ball 489 yards Friday; seriously, he was on a 573-yard par-5 and was 84 yards from the hole for his second shot.

    5) It bothers me when baseball teams shift and leave third base totally uncovered; they’re just giving up a base hit to anyone with the basic ability to bunt.

    I can see doing it against powerful lefties like Bryce Harper or Freddie Freeman, but against guys who aren’t so great, to me it is just overthinking something that is fairly simple. Maybe the analytics people are trying to justify their position by micromanaging too much.

    4) Apparently it costs $30 to park at A’s games this season; for their four home games with the Giants, it’ll cost $50 to park unless you say “Go A’s!!!” at the gate. Trolling Giants’ fans seems a little immature. Paying $30 to park seems a bit excessive.

    3) There are rumors around that Gonzaga will be jumping from the WCC to the Mountain West as early as next season, which would give the MW an even dozen teams. Gonzaga is supposed to announce their decision in the next two weeks.

    2) #1-seed Kansas is an underdog to Duke today; the previous nine #1-seeds who got points in the regional final went 2-7 SU, 3-6 against the spread.

    1) Few years ago, I was at an AAU basketball tournament at Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas; I’m sitting in bleachers watching this game when one of the coaches takes his cellphone out while play was going on, looks at a text message, then glares at the couple sitting in front of me and says:

    “If you text me again, he’ll never get in!!!!”

    Can’t make stuff like that up.
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    Braves release veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir
    March 24, 2018

    ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves have released Scott Kazmir after the left-hander fell short in his bid to win the No. 5 spot in the team's rotation.

    The 34-year-old Kazmir was acquired with Brandon McCarthy and infielder Charlie Culberson in the Dec. 18 trade that sent outfielder Matt Kemp to the Dodgers.

    McCarthy has won a spot in the rotation but Kazmir struggled in spring training. He couldn't claim a spot left vacant when Luiz Gohara sprained his left ankle.

    Kazmir will earn $15,554,483 on the final year of his contract this season.

    Anibal Sanchez, signed to a minor league contract late in camp, is a candidate to serve as the fifth starter at least until Gohara is healthy.


    Red Sox SP Sale hit by liner, should be OK
    March 24, 2018

    FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) This was not the sight the Boston Red Sox envisioned in Chris Sale's final spring training tuneup: Their ace crumpled on the ground, knocked off the mound by a line drive.

    Sale quickly got up, flexed his leg a few times and walked off the field under his own power Saturday. The AL East champions called it a bruised left hip, and Sale said the injury wasn't serious and wouldn't jeopardize his opening day start Thursday at Tampa Bay.

    ''I don't see anything lingering from this,'' Sale said. ''Looked a lot worse than it really is.''

    Sale was struck by a liner off the bat of Houston's J.D. Davis in the first inning. A day earlier, San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner sustained a broken pitching hand when he was hit a line drive and will miss at least a month.

    X-rays were negative.

    ''When it first hit me, it kind of got me in the hip, but got the nerve. So it shot all the way down to my foot. So, that's what kind of made me worried,'' he said. ''I was telling them when I was out there, `Give me a minute. It'll come back. I'll be fine.' They didn't want to wait, so came in here, got it evaluated, looked at, figured out nothing series, just a bruise.''

    ''It kind of just shocked me more than anything, that initial blow,'' he said.

    The lanky left-hander considered himself fortunate.

    ''That's another reason we're thankful it hit me where it did,'' Sale said. ''I don't have a whole lot of padding anywhere on me, but if I'm going to get hit, somewhere in the hip or the butt's going to be the place to go. Better than a rib, arm, hand, even the face. So this was best-case scenario.''

    Manager Alex Cora said he expects Sale to pitch the opener.

    ''I bet, yeah,'' Cora said. ''He was committed to throw more pitches in the game. I was like, `No you're not throwing.''

    Even so, Sale gave Cora quite a scare.

    ''It's not what you want to see,'' Cora said. ''That's the thing about the late part of spring training, it's just a game anything can happen. We saw it the last few days in Arizona. You see that and you always think the worst. But, see how he reacts tomorrow and we go from there.''

    ''We'll see where he's at tomorrow,'' he said. ''If he needs a day, he needs a day. But we stretched him enough. Obviously he needs work before that. If he's pitching on Thursday, we'll make sure he gets his work and we go from there.''

    Chris Archer was expected to start for the Rays - on Friday, he was hit by a grounder in the forearm of his pitching arm and had to leave a minor league game.

    The Red Sox had been bringing Sale along slowly this spring - not because of an injury but because they are hoping to keep him stronger as the season goes on.

    Sale led the majors with 308 strikeouts last season, going 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA in his first year with Boston. He started for the AL in the All-Star Game.

    But the six-time All-Star, who turns 29 a day after the opener, struggled late in the season. In 11 starts in August and September, he went 7-4 with a 4.09 ERA, averaging six innings.

    Over his eight-season career, he is 59-22 with a 2.74 ERA in 133 first-half starts and 32-36 with 3.28 after.

    Sale went 0-2 in the AL Division Series against Houston, giving up nine runs in 9 2/3 innings. He started Game 1 and made a relief appearance later in the matchup.

    Sale was planning to go six innings, with 80 to 90 pitches on Saturday.

    ''We're going to figure something out over tomorrow and the next day,'' he said. ''Try to build up arm strength to get to where we need to be for Thursday.''

    The Red Sox already were looking at starting the season with a depleted rotation. Manager Alex Cora announced earlier Saturday that pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez will begin the season on the disabled list.

    Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright has accepted a 15-game suspension under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.


    Mets send RHP Zack Wheeler to minors
    March 24, 2018

    NEW YORK (AP) Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler will begin the season in the minors after squandering an opportunity to secure a rotation spot during spring training.

    New York optioned the oft-injured Wheeler to minor league camp Saturday. The right-hander, who has made only 17 major league starts over the last three years, gave up 22 hits and compiled an 8.10 ERA in 10 Grapefruit League innings.

    Wheeler will start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. Seth Lugo is likely to open as the No. 5 starter for the Mets while newcomer Jason Vargas recovers from surgery for a broken bone in his right (non-pitching) hand.

    ''It was very difficult,'' manager Mickey Callaway said in Jupiter, Florida, where the Mets lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 8-7 in an exhibition game. ''I think that Wheeler's got a lot to offer the team. I think that we all feel - I think even Wheeler feels - that there's some things to work on. In my mind he needs to get out there and pitch consistently and I think being in the Triple-A rotation will allow him to do that.''

    A highly touted prospect, Wheeler pitched pretty well for New York from 2013-14. He missed the next two seasons following Tommy John surgery and finally returned last year, going 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA in 86 1/3 innings. He lost his last five decisions and didn't pitch after July 22 because of a stress reaction in his right arm
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    Pitcher Bartolo Colon cut by Rangers, could rejoin them soon
    March 24, 2018

    SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) The Texas Rangers have cut pitcher Bartolo Colon, but the popular 44-year-old could rejoin them soon.

    The Rangers released Colon from his minor league contract. The team faced a Saturday deadline to either add the right-hander to their 25-man roster, cut him or pay him $100,000 to stick around for now.

    Colon made five starts in spring training and had a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings. He was a combined 7-14 with 6.48 ERA for Atlanta and Minnesota last year.

    Colon's contract called for $1.75 million if he pitched for Texas. The Rangers still have the option of renegotiating a new deal with Colon, and have shown interest in keeping him.


    Brewers set rotation, Guerra to minors
    March 24, 2018

    PHOENIX (AP) The Milwaukee Brewers have optioned Junior Guerra, their opening day starter a year ago, to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

    Guerra has made five spring starts and is scheduled to pitch Sunday's Cactus League finale against the Chicago White Sox. The 33-year-old right-hander, who had a groin injury in the opener at Cincinnati last year, was hampered all season and finished with a 5.12 ERA in 70 1-3 innings. He has a 3.15 ERA in 20 spring innings.

    Manager Craig Counsell said that pitcher Yovani Gallardo also has been told he will not make the team. Gallardo, 32, came up with Milwaukee in 2007 and spent eight years with the Brewers, starting the 2014 opener. He was 5-10 with a 5.72 ERA for Seattle last year.

    Chase Anderson goes on opening day on Thursday against the Padres, and Zach Davies was already scheduled to start the Brewers' home opener April 2 against St. Louis.

    Counsell said that Jhoulys Chacin and lefty Brent Suter will start the final two games of the opening series in San Diego. The fifth starter will be Brandon Woodruff, but he will work out of the bullpen in San Diego, Counsell said.

    Counsell said Woodruff will start in the home series against the Chicago Cubs, who follow the Cardinals to Miller Park.

    Outfielders Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips also have been optioned to the minors.


    Yankees' Ellsbury to start season on DL
    March 24, 2018

    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will start the regular season on the disabled list because of an oblique injury that sidelined him three weeks.

    Ellsbury, who resumed playing Thursday, will remain at the Yankees' spring training complex when the team leaves Florida on Sunday for its final spring training game Monday at Atlanta.

    ''Get him 40, 50 at-bats,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Saturday.

    The Yankees open the regular season Thursday at Toronto.

    Ellsbury is projected as a backup outfielder after losing the starting center field job to Aaron Hicks last season.

    Ellsbury, 34, is guaranteed $21,142,857 in each of the next three seasons as part of a $153 million, seven-year contract that includes a $21 million team option for 2021 with a $5 million buyout.

    Brett Gardner is the starting left fielder, and Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge will rotate between right field and designated hitter. Stanton also could get time in left when Gardner is rested, especially against left-handed pitchers.

    Ellsbury hit .264 with seven homers and 39 RBIs in 112 games last season. He was sidelined from May 24 until June 26 after sustaining a concussion against the outfield wall while making a spectacular catch to rob Kansas City's Alcides Escobar.

    Also, third baseman Brandon Drury, hit on the left elbow by a pitch Friday, will take batting practice Sunday and has no doubts about being ready for opening day. X-rays on the elbow were negative.

    ''I was excited to get that news,'' Drury said. ''I couldn't squeeze my hand at the time, it was just numb. I've been hit there before, so I've had that feeling before. So, I had that hope it was going to be good. Anytime you can't squeeze your hand or have that feeling, it's not good but it's better now.''

    Drury plans to start wearing an elbow guard.

    Notes: LHP Jordan Montgomery, who will start the home opener April 2 against Tampa Bay, will make his final spring training outing Tuesday in a minor league game. ... The Yankees optioned RHP Domingo German to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. German and RHP Luis Cessa will be starters in the minors. ... Cashman said RHP Jonathan Holder made the team as the 13th pitcher. ... OF Clint Frazier (concussion) is doing limited baseball drills.


    Cards closer Gregerson on DL to open '18
    March 24, 2018

    JUPITER, Fla. (AP) St. Louis closer Luke Gregerson will begin the season on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, manager Mike Matheny said on Saturday.

    Gregerson injured the hamstring during conditioning drills. He hasn't pitched in a Grapefruit League game since Tuesday, when he struck out two in an inning. There is no announced timetable for his return.

    ''Hamstrings are so difficult to predict,'' Matheny said.

    The Cardinals signed Gregerson during the offseason to be their closer. He saved 31 games for Houston in 2015 and 15 more the following season.

    Gregerson worked three perfect innings this spring for the Cardinals.

    ''He's frustrated, too,'' Matheny said. ''He's had a long career and been a guy that's been durable.''

    Earlier this spring, Gregerson missed time because of oblique tightness. Matheny said he didn't believe the two issues were related.

    ''He bounced back pretty quick which is hopefully an indicator of how quickly he's able to bounce back from injury,'' Matheny said.

    Without Gregerson, Matheny intends to select his closer on a game-by-game basis based on matchups. Righties Dominic Leone and Bud Norris, along with lefty Tyler Lyons, figure to be in the mix.

    St. Louis acquired Leone in the offseason trade that sent Randal Grichuk to Toronto.

    Entering Saturday's game against the New York Mets, Leone allowed only one run while striking out 11 in eight appearances this spring.

    ''He's got swing-and-miss stuff,'' Matheny said. ''The cutter in particular plays extremely well for me in the fact that it is a four-seam cutter. It's not something that you see or expect to move like it does. We're always looking for a guy with a pitch that may be different than what other people have.''

    Lyons came through the St. Louis organization as a starter before moving to the bullpen. He appeared in 50 games for St. Louis last season. Entering Saturday, Lyons allowed three runs this spring.

    The Cardinals signed Norris as a free agent after the start of camp. Primarily a starter throughout his career, Norris saved 19 games for the Angels last season.

    St. Louis began the spring by stretching out Norris so he could potentially start or pitch in long relief, but moved him to the bullpen for the final two weeks.

    ''He's got good stuff,'' Matheny said.


    Mets' Wright is baseball's lone captain
    March 24, 2018

    MESA, Ariz. (AP) Anthony Rizzo is a three-time All-Star and the 2017 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball's biggest honor for sportsmanship and community involvement. Jon Lester is a three-time World Series champion, and Jason Heyward organized the most important meeting in franchise history.

    Plenty of leaders with the Chicago Cubs. No captain.

    One of the most revered titles in sports is hanging by a thread in baseball, which treats its history with hallowed tones in almost every case, but doesn't seem the slightest bit concerned about the absence of the iconic C on the front of its uniforms. New York Mets third baseman David Wright is the majors' only captain on the eve of the season, and it's unclear if he will ever play again.

    ''Leadership is a taken role and people want to follow you just based on how you are, how you treat them, how well you listen, how well you interact daily, how much you really are into them as opposed to yourself,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, ''and that becomes obvious. Leadership is taken, man. It's hard to just place that out there.''

    The 35-year-old Wright was named the fourth captain in Mets history in 2013, joining Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and John Franco. He made the last of his seven NL All-Star teams that same year before he was hampered by a series of injuries. He hasn't appeared in a major league game since 2016.

    Wright declared right away that he wouldn't wear the C on the front of his jersey, so that special touch has been missing from baseball for a couple years.

    ''I'm not sure if there's a benefit to having a title and I've never been one to like come in here and say you have to listen to me because I'm the captain,'' Wright said. ''I would hope that if I have something to say that somebody would listen to me because of, you know, because of what I've hopefully displayed in the clubhouse and be considered kind of a leader in here.''

    But Wright made no attempt to hide the significance of the title to him.

    ''I'll say it again, that to this day it's probably the biggest honor away from the field of my career,'' he said.

    A variety of factors have contributed to the decline of captains. Many of the captains across sports spend most of their careers with a single team, but that has become a rarity in baseball. There also are no real responsibilities for the title.

    Hockey captains serve as the team's liaison to the officials. NFL captains participate in the pregame coin toss. NBA captains also have specific responsibilities, but baseball barely mentions the word in its rulebook.

    ''There's no, like, formal meeting,'' Washington ace Max Scherzer said. ''It's not like football where you go out there and shake the other team's hands and you need captains to go do that. Baseball doesn't have that. So maybe that's why you don't see it. There's no coin toss.''

    But the list of baseball captains still includes some of the biggest names in the history of the sport. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Thurman Munson and Derek Jeter are on the list of 11 Yankees captains. Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider with the Dodgers. Jimmie Foxx and Carl Yastrzemski for the Boston Red Sox. Willie Stargell, Barry Larkin and other Hall of Famers.

    Jeter thought he did something wrong when then-Yankees owner George Steinbrenner called to make him captain in 2003.

    ''The boss, Mr. Steinbrenner usually only called if you were in trouble during the season,'' Jeter said. ''He called me, we were in Cincinnati, and said he wanted to name me the captain. It was a welcome phone call.''

    The list of baseball captains underscores not only the special players to hold the title, but also the unique situations that led to their leadership position.

    Rizzo, Lester and Heyward, who got the Cubs together during a key moment in Game 7 of their World Series win in 2016, could each serve as captain. But identifying one leader in Chicago's clubhouse at the possible expense of its other respected veterans likely would hurt the team more than help it. There are similar situations in several other clubhouses across the sport.

    ''Having a team captain could conceivably in some ways change the relationship between the manager and the coaches and the rest of the team,'' Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.

    ''So, again, it's all about the people. It's not that it's a good idea or a bad idea, it's all about the people. It's not just the guy you're considering for that position but also everybody around him, your own players, the manager, the coaching staff. You really have to think of it in those terms.''
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    D-backs tab lefty Corbin for opening day start vs Rockies
    March 24, 2018

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Left-hander Patrick Corbin has been chosen to start for the Arizona Diamondbacks on opening day.

    Manager Torey Lovullo made the announcement Saturday. He'll make his first opening day start Thursday night when the Diamondbacks host Colorado - Arizona beat the Rockies last year in the NL wild-card game.

    Corbin was 14-13 with a 4.03 ERA in 32 starts last season.

    ''I'm just excited. I'm honored to go out there. I feel well prepared and ready to go. I got all my work in that I needed to this spring,'' Corbin said.

    The opportunity for Corbin arose from a groin injury to Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke, who is still working his way back to full strength. Greinke was recently ruled out for opening day.

    Greinke threw a quick bullpen session on Saturday morning and Lovullo hopes he will be ready to pitch the third game of the season-opening series against the Rockies.

    Left-hander Robbie Ray was also seriously considered, but Lovullo chose to keep him on his spring schedule.

    ''A very well-deserved honor,'' Lovullo said of choosing Corbin. ''Told him . `That's a lot of hard work and dedication that got you back to this moment.'''

    The 28-year-old Corbin was in line to be the opening day starter in 2014, coming off a 14-8 record during an All-Star season in 2013. But he suffered an injury in his throwing arm during a spring training game and had to have Tommy John surgery.

    Corbin missed all of the 2014 season and part of 2015, and went 5-13 with a 5.15 ERA in 2016. He was moved to the bullpen that year.

    Lovullo told Corbin the news before Corbin's most recent spring training start, Friday against Cleveland.

    ''Just glad this time I'm ready to go and healthy,'' Corbin said. ''He brought up 2014, too, and how that year didn't quite happen for me. So he was happy for me to be able to get another shot at this.''

    Corbin said he feels his career has come full circle.

    ''I knew I always had it in there, it just took a little bit to figure it out and kind of get back,'' he said. ''I feel really close to where I was, if not there.''

    Corbin will be followed by Ray in the rotation, and if Greinke isn't ready by next Saturday, the club will have to make a decision. Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley are also part of the Arizona starting rotation.

    Godley started Saturday in a split-squad game against the Kansas City Royals. He gave up a solo home run to Mike Moustakas in the first, but allowed only two hits overall in seven innings.

    NOTES: The Diamondbacks on Saturday acquired utility infielder Deven Marrero from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named or cash. Arizona also selected the contract of RHP Fernando Salas and designated RHP Albert Su�rez for assignment. Salas has posted a 0.90 ERA in 10 spring innings. ... Lovullo has yet to name a closer for the Diamondbacks. Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano are the candidates. ... C Jeff Mathis returned to major league game action on Saturday against Kansas City, his first spring training game in 10 days. He'd been dealing with back tightness. ... RHP Randall Delgado, a reliever, threw a bullpen session Saturday. He has an oblique injury and Lovullo said it looks like he will start the season on the disabled list.


    A's shift gears on stadium parking: Giants fans to pay more
    March 24, 2018

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Hey, Giants fans. It's gonna cost ya to motor up to the Coliseum.

    The Oakland Athletics announced on Saturday a playful pricing plan for parking at their stadium for games against the Bay Bridge rivals.

    A's season-ticket holders can get prepaid parking for $10 and other Oakland fans will pay $30 - but anyone rooting for the neighboring Giants will be charged $50.

    Team president Dave Kaval says any Giants fan who wants to pay the $30 needs only to yell ''Go A's'' at the parking gates. The Athletics host the Giants in an exhibition game on Sunday and in a three-game series July 20-22.

    The Athletics instituted a plan last year allowing fans to trade in a Giants hat for a free A's hat.

    Whether this car policy would be upheld in court is highly questionable. A judge might just toss it out of the park.


    Catcher Christian Vazquez, Red Sox reach deal through 2021
    March 24, 2018

    FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Catcher Christian Vazquez and the Boston Red Sox have reached agreement on a new contract that takes him through the 2021 season.

    The deal announced Saturday includes a team option for 2022. Media reports said Vazquez, who had been signed for 2018, was assured more than $13 million with the three extra guaranteed years.

    The Red Sox have long regarded the 27-year-old Vazquez, a ninth-round draft pick in 2008, as their catcher of the future.

    Strong behind the plate, he has thrown out 42 percent (42 of 100) of would-be basestealers in 211 major league games. That's the best rate among catchers with at least 200 games in the last 30 years.

    ''I feel awesome here in Boston,'' Vazquez said. ''It's a great team, a great staff. I came (up through) the minor leagues here and it feels like a family here so it feels good.''

    Vazquez hit .290 with five home runs and 32 RBIs last season, starting 85 times at catcher.

    Vazquez made his major league debut in 2014, impressing the Red Sox with his strong arm. He missed the 2015 season after having Tommy John surgery.

    ''This is a kid that he's worked hard at it,'' manager Alex Cora said. ''I know him from back home (in Puerto Rico) and, all sentiments apart, I think this is great. This is a guy that he can catch . I think he's a good hitter.''

    Vazquez, a right-handed hitter, will split time behind the plate with Sandy Leon, a switch-hitter.

    ''I still feel that on a daily basis we're going to make decisions based on matchups and how they fit in the lineup,'' Cora said.

    Red Sox ace Chris Sale applauded the move.

    ''That's huge,'' Sale said. ''He's a younger guy, too, so having him around, he's been around a while, around here a while, so we all love him. Well worth it. He earned it, every last penny of it.''
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    Monday’s 6-pack

    How low-seeded teams have done in national semi-finals:

    2006: George Mason (11-seed) lost 73-58 to Florida (-6)
    2011: VCU (11-seed) lost 70-62 to Butler (-2.5)
    2016: Syracuse (10-seed) lost 83-66 to North Carolina (-9.5)
    2013; Wichita St (9-seed) lost 72-68 to Louisville (-10)
    2000: Wisconsin (8-seed) lost 53-41 to Michigan St (-8)
    2000: North Carolina (8-seed) lost 71-59 to Florida (-5)
    2011: Butler (8-seed) beat VCU 70-62 (-2.5)
    2014: Kentucky (8-seed) beat Wisconsin 74-73 (+1)

    Quote of the Day
    “Hopefully, I prove what coach said was wrong and put myself in position to get back as soon as possible,. But right now, who knows? Just try to do my job in the rehab process and get back as soon as I can.”
    Stephen Curry, hoping to return before the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs

    Monday’s quiz
    Where did Klay Thompson play his college basketball?

    Sunday’s quiz
    QB Mark Sanchez (2009) was the last offensive player the Jets drafted in the first round.

    Saturday’s quiz
    Lance Alworth, the great WR from the Chargers, was the first player from the AFL inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


    Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend

    13) Kansas 85, Duke 81 OT— Jayhawks were 13-36 on arc in this game, 17-33 inside the arc; Newman scored 32 points and Kansas is headed to the Alamo for the Final Four.

    Grayson Allen went 3-13 in his last college game; Mavin Bagley was 5-9 in 44:00- if you’re coaching Duke, you’re sick that Bagley got only nine shots in a game this close, especially since he’ll never play for Duke again.

    12) Villanova 71, Texas Tech 59— Wildcats were 29-35 on foul line; Tech was 14-18 in game where teams combined to go 9-44 on arc. Villanova is in Final Four for second time in three years; they’re 11-1 in last 12 NCAA tournament games.

    11) Final Four pointspreads:
    Michigan (-5.5) over Loyola-Chicago
    Villanova (-5) over Kansas

    10) Since 1987, when two #1-seeds play in the national semifinals, the underdogs are 8-2 against the spread.

    9) Was thinking about Gonzaga’s potential move to the Mountain West; I have no idea why they would do that. Gonzaga doesn’t have football, so their TV deal for basketball would only net them an additional $375,000 a year— not much at all.

    Mountain West is a better league, but hardly a power league; only reason they got two teams in the NCAA’s this year is because Nevada got beat in the conference tournament. Gonzaga is the king of the WCC; its good to be the king- they’re like UNLV was in the Big West during the peak years of Jerry Tarkanian’s coaching tenure in Las Vegas.

    To me, adding Gonzaga would really help the Mountain West, not sure how it helps Gonzaga.

    8) Saturday night, Florida State was down 58-54 in the last 0:15; they missed a 3-pointer, then didn’t foul in the last 10 or 11 seconds, and Michigan ran out the clock.

    The non-foul occurred right in front of the FSU bench; it seemed like someone on the bench told the Seminole player not to foul, so they let the game end, despite a foul giving them a (very small) chance to win the game. A small chance is still a chance; it happens. Ask Louisville.

    As you know, I spend a ridiculous amount of time watching college basketball; can’t remember a situation like this happening before, especially a team whose season ends with a loss. Why give up?

    Leonard Hamilton wasn’t happy when he was asked about it after the game. If I was the AD at Florida State, I’d be asking him about it again when we met back in Tallahassee.

    7) Duke was down five with 0:11 left in OT Sunday; unlike Florida State, they fouled.

    6) Atlanta Braves cut P Scott Kazmir, eating $16M he is owed this year. Kazmir had a rough outing Saturday, blamed it on a 90-100 bullpen session he threw Wednesday, saying he didn’t know he’d be pitching Saturday. Now he is out of a job, though he still gets paid.

    5) Phillies gave 2B prospect Scott Kingery a 6-year, $24M contract, which eliminates service time as an issue in making Kingery a major leaguer right now.

    Lot of teams delay bringing their prospects up to the majors, to delay their arbitration years from kicking in.

    4) Then there is Arizona, which sent OF Yasmany Tomas down to AAA, despite owing him $46M over the next three years. RF Stephen Souza is on the DL and they still sent Tomas down, which tells us they’re pretty sour on him.

    3) Twins’ coach Howard Johnson, the old Mets’ 3B, broke bones in his face this weekend when he was hit by a foul ball in the Minnesota dugout. Hope he is feeling better soon.

    2) I’m still wondering why the Red Sox fired Terry Francona; Boston averaged 93 wins a year under Francona, winning two World Series with no losing seasons- they were 90-72 his last year, albeit with some off-field hijinx that had people saying Francona ran too loose a ship.

    They’ve won one World Series in six years since he left and now have an entry-level manager in Alex Cora. Curious decision.

    1— Mets manager Mickey Callaway is the 49th major league pitcher who later became a major league manager. Pitching is obviously the most essential element of baseball; you’d think more former pitchers would’ve become managers.
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    Baseball 2018: Key dates for the upcoming season
    March 26, 2018

    Baseball begins again with every team opening on the same day for the first time since 1968. Here are a handful of dates to mark on the calendar:


    San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers: The earliest domestic start in baseball history features one of the game's best rivalries. Clayton Kershaw makes his record eighth opening-day start for the NL champion Dodgers after going 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA in 27 starts last year. He takes on a much more challenging lineup after the Giants acquired Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen in a pair of offseason trades. It's the first opener between the clubs since 2013.


    Baltimore Orioles at Houston Astros: Reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve and the Astros celebrate the franchise's first championship before their home opener against Adam Jones and the Orioles. The Astros outlasted the Dodgers in a seven-game World Series last fall, and they might be even better this year after acquiring right-hander Gerrit Cole in a January trade with Pittsburgh. The Orioles are hoping to bounce back after finishing last in the rugged AL East last season.


    Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees: It's on - again. Mookie Betts and the Red Sox make their first trip of the season to New York to take on Aaron Judge and the Yankees. Boston won the AL East in 2017, and then bolstered its lineup by signing slugger J.D. Martinez to a $110 million, five-year contract in February. New York, which lost to Houston in last year's AL Championship Series, traded for Giancarlo Stanton in December, creating the type of star-studded batting order usually only found in video games. One of baseball's biggest rivalries is must-see TV again in 2018.


    Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols begins the season just 32 hits shy of 3,000, and he could be right around the magic number when Los Angeles welcomes Tampa Bay to town for the opener of a four-game series. The 38-year-old Pujols isn't as dangerous as he was at the start of his career, but he hit 23 homers and drove in 101 runs for the Angels last year. He dropped about 15 pounds over the winter and could see more time at first base after Los Angeles signed pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani over the winter.


    Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals: The NL Central used to belong to the Cardinals, but it has been the Cubs' show lately. Chicago won the division in each of the past two seasons and remains the favorite after signing right-hander Yu Darvish to a $126 million, six-year contract in February. St. Louis traded for outfielder Marcell Ozuna in December and is hoping to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. A good place to start might be the season series against Chicago after the Cardinals lost 14 of 19 games against the Cubs last year.


    All-Star Game: The Midsummer Classic returns to Washington for the first time since Willie McCovey homered twice in the National League's 9-3 victory at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in 1969. That was part of a long run of dominance for the NL in one of baseball's showcase events, but times have changed. The American League won 2-1 in 10 innings in Miami last year for its fifth consecutive victory.


    Trade deadline: The last chance for teams to make deals without having to first pass players through waivers.


    Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians: The AL Central rivals conclude their season series with eight games in August after Cleveland ran away from Minnesota on its way to the division title a year ago. The Twins are much improved after making a surprise playoff appearance in 2017, signing right-hander Lance Lynn and slugger Logan Morrison off the slow free-agent market and trading for righty Jake Odorizzi. The Indians return mostly intact after winning 102 games last season and dropping a heartbreaking first-round playoff series against the Yankees.

    SUNDAY, SEPT. 23

    New York Mets at Washington Nationals: When New York and Washington are healthy, they offer all sorts of tantalizing pitching matchups when they play each other. But the Mets have been hampered by injuries for the past couple years while the Nationals have captured the NL East in each of the previous two seasons. Each team is looking for a breakthrough under a new manager, with Mickey Callaway hoping to get the Mets back into the playoffs and Dave Martinez trying to guide the Nationals to postseason success.

    SUNDAY, SEPT. 30

    Texas Rangers at Seattle Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki begins his 18th season in the majors in the same place where he started after he came to the United States from Japan, returning to Seattle for a $750,000, one-year contract. If he decides this is it - Suzuki turns 45 in October, but doesn't seem to be entertaining the idea of retiring anytime soon - he could play his final game at Safeco Field in the season finale.
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    B]Baseball 2018: Angels' Ohtani among rookies to watch
    March 26, 2018

    CHICAGO (AP) Aaron Judge. Cody Bellinger. Andrew Benintendi. Paul DeJong. The list goes on and on.

    Last year's rookie class was one of the best in baseball history. Topping that group of sluggers will be quite a chore, but here is a closer look at some touted prospects hoping to make a name for themselves this year:

    -RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels: The 23-year-old Ohtani is trying to become the first player in nearly 100 years to play regularly as a pitcher and hitter, but he had mixed results during spring training. Ohtani spent the previous five seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters, showing off a big fastball and a powerful bat.

    -OF Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves:
    The future is now for the crown jewel of Atlanta's loaded farm system after Matt Kemp was traded to the Dodgers in December. The 20-year-old Acuna will begin the season at Triple-A Gwinnett, pushing back his eligibility for arbitration, but it's only a matter of time before he is up with the Braves after he hit .325 with 21 homers, 82 RBIs and 44 steals over three minor league stops last year.

    -OF Victor Robles, Washington Nationals: Robles, another athletic 20-year-old outfielder in the NL East, made his major league debut last September and got into two playoff games in the first round against the Cubs. The Nationals have Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor in the outfield, but Robles could get into the mix if there are any injuries.

    -OF Eloy Jimenez, Chicago White Sox: Jimenez, who was slowed this spring by left knee tendinitis, is widely regarded as baseball's top hitting prospect. He was acquired in last summer's Jose Quintana trade with the crosstown Cubs - destined to be a barroom debate in Chicago for years to come - and batted .312 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs for three minor league teams in 2017.

    -C Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians: Cleveland loves Mejia's bat so much it is trying the catcher in a couple different spots to help carve out a place for him in the majors. He played third base in the Arizona Fall League and will begin this year with Triple-A Columbus so he can spend time in the outfield. The Indians have a strong catching tandem with Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes, but Mejia could be back in the majors this summer if he shows the ability to play multiple positions.

    -RHP Alex Reyes, St. Louis Cardinals: The 23-year-old Reyes could return in May after he hurt his elbow in spring training a year ago, leading to Tommy John surgery. Whether he works as a starter or reliever, he could provide a big lift for St. Louis after he went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 46 innings in his first major league action in 2016.

    -INFs Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees: Not a lot of room in New York's infield after the Yankees traded for Brandon Drury and signed Neil Walker, but Torres and Andujar could help at some point this summer. Torres hit .309 in 23 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last year before he was shelved by a season-ending elbow injury, and Andujar looked great this spring.

    -RHP Walker Buehler and OF Alex Verdugo, Los Angeles Dodgers: The hard-throwing Buehler and Verdugo will begin the year with Triple-A Oklahoma City, but they could play a role as Los Angeles tries for its sixth straight NL West title. Buehler had a 7.71 ERA in eight relief appearances as a September call-up for the Dodgers, and Verdugo also made his major league debut last year.

    -OF Jesse Winker, Cincinnati Reds: The 24-year-old Winker hit .298 with seven homers and 15 RBIs in 47 games in his first major league action last summer. The rebuilding Reds have a bit of a crowd in the outfield with Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Billy Hamilton, but they are going to want to see if Winker can deliver on his potential.

    -OF Austin Hays, Baltimore Orioles: Hays, who was hampered by a shoulder injury this spring, was promoted to the majors for the first time last September and hit .217 with a homer and eight RBIs in 20 games. The 22-year-old Hays, a third-round pick in the 2016 draft out of Jacksonville University, has big-time power, belting 32 homers in the minors last season.
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    D-backs, Marte agree to $24M, 5-year deal
    March 26, 2018

    PHOENIX (AP) A person familiar with the deal says the Arizona Diamondbacks and infielder Ketel Marte have agreed to a $24 million, five-year contract.

    The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because the agreement had not been announced. The deal includes two club options worth a total of $22 million.

    The 24-year-old Marte came up from Triple-A Reno last season to fill a critical role at shortstop when Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings went down with injuries. Marte will spend a lot of time at second base this season with Ahmed back at shortstop.

    Marte came to the Diamondbacks with starting pitcher Taijuan Walker in the trade that sent infielder Jean Segura to Seattle shortly after Mike Hazen took over as Arizona's general manager before last season.

    The extension shows how strongly Hazen and those around him feel about Marte's future.

    Marte hit .260 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 73 regular-season games for the Diamondbacks, and he had an outstanding run in Arizona's brief stint in the postseason. He had three hits, including two triples, in the wild-card win over Colorado, then went 4 for 12 - including a home run - as the Diamondbacks were swept in three games by the Dodgers in the NLDS.

    Before Monday night's exhibition game with Cleveland, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo wouldn't confirm the new contract but had high praise for his young infielder.

    ''Ketel Marte is an extremely exciting young player,'' Lovullo said. ''He did some very special things for us last year. He did some incredible things in spring training. Ketel is going to play a lot for this team, and he's going to split his time in the middle infield, split his time at shortstop and second base.''

    Lovullo called the young Dominican ''a very special young talent that did a lot last year by going down and showing some mental toughness and was sent out to the minor leagues and was one of the best players in the Pacific Coast League and then came up here and at times was one of the best players in the National League.''

    Marte was not available to speak to media before Monday night's game.
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    Tucker hits slam in 1st Minute Maid AB as Astros top Brewers
    March 26, 2018

    HOUSTON (AP) Kyle Tucker gave Houston Astros fans a nice peak into the future a few days before the World Series champions formally begin their title defense.

    The prized prospect hit a grand slam in his first-ever at-bat at Minute Maid Park to lift Houston over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 in an exhibition game Monday night.

    ''It was awesome. The atmosphere from the first inning or even yesterday coming to the field was awesome,'' Tucker said. ''I was super pumped. To finally to get to play on this field was awesome. It's a dream ever since you were a little kid. It was a great night.''

    Tucker, the fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft, went deep in the seventh inning after replacing Josh Reddick in left field. It was Tucker's fifth homer of the spring and gives him 21 RBIs and a .439 average.

    ''He's had a nice spring and a nice impression,'' Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. ''I'm not sure I'd be impressed more or any less whether he punches out tomorrow or hits another homer. The long view of him is he looks like he's going to be a really good player. His time will come.''

    Tucker is already slated to join one of the Astros' minor league affiliates before opening day Thursday. He split last season between Class A Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi.

    Reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve had two hits, and Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. allowed his first runs since March 11 by giving up two with three hits. He also struck out three in three innings.

    McCullers finished spring training 3-0 with 24 strikeouts in 21 innings.

    ''I was able to come into spring healthy, which allowed me to make a full solid five outings down there and got my pitch count up close to 90 my last time out in Florida,'' McCullers said. ''Today I was able to come out and throw three (innings) of 50 pitches. I feel good. I'm on normal rest but because I threw less pitches I'm going to be a little more fresh.''

    McCullers will get his first regular season start on Saturday against the Rangers in Arlington.

    Christian Yelich drove in two runs for Milwaukee. The outfielder was acquired this offseason from the Marlins and leads the Brewers with 12 RBIs heading into the final game before opening day.

    Brewers starter Brent Suter bounced back from recent struggles with five innings of one-run ball. He stuck out seven and had no walks, a big turnaround after allowing 10 runs in his previous 8 2/3 innings.

    ''I was very pleased, I thought it was the perfect tuneup,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. ''Obviously it's a very good lineup, and he did a really nice job for five innings.''

    Suter in his last two games has struck out 14 batters in 9 2/3 innings. Prior to that, Suter had just 12 punch outs in 14 innings.

    ''I think I did a better job of doing it earlier,'' Suter said about making quality two-strike pitches. ''In my last outing, I was fighting a little bit, letting them get back in the count and then maybe making a pitch. Today it felt like I was putting them away a little earlier in the count. That was a good sign. Limit my pitch count. I was a little bit more efficient today.''


    Less than a month after having the hook of the hamate bone removed from his left hand, Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is close to returning.

    Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Gurriel hit again Monday morning, and the team hopes to get him into game competition at minor league spring training in the next day or two.

    ''Right now he's trending in a good direction that he's pain free,'' Hinch said. ''He's taking good swings. He's facing live competition in terms of the high-velocity machine. So far so good.''

    The team will decide by opening day whether to put Gurriel on the disabled list or have him join the team. Once with the team, Gurriel will begin serving his five-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball during the World Series last year. The suspension was for an inappropriate gesture directed at former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish.


    Brewers: RHP Zach Davies (2-0, 2.38 ERA) starts against Houston on Tuesday in his final tuneup before the regular season. In his last start, Davies gave up no runs in five innings against Kansas City.

    Astros: RHP Charlie Morton (1-1, 6.92 ERA) will try to bounce back in his final start of the preseason Tuesday. Last time out, Morton gave up nine runs and 11 hits against Miami on Thursday.
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    Braves add OF Bourjos, utility INF Flaherty
    March 26, 2018

    ATLANTA (AP) The Braves bolstered their bench by agreeing to one-year deals with outfielder Peter Bourjos and utility player Ryan Flaherty, who were released by other teams late in spring training.

    Under the contracts announced Monday, Bourjos will receive $1 million and Flaherty $750,000.

    Both were added to the major league roster. The Braves begin the season Thursday at home against Philadelphia.

    ''They're good acquisitions,'' Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. ''They're two pros, they're big leaguers. They should serve really good roles here with our club.''

    Bourjos played last season with Tampa Bay and hit .223 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 100 games. The 30-year-old was cut last week by the Chicago Cubs.

    Flaherty played only 23 games last season with the Baltimore Orioles, missing nearly three months with a right shoulder strain. The 31-year-old saw action at every infield position except first base, as well as left and right field.

    Flaherty was in camp with Philadelphia this spring before his release.

    Snitker said it was important to bring on players who can help defensively, especially with a suspect pitching staff.

    Bourjos cleanly handled all 122 of his chances in 2017, making him one of just five outfielders not to commit an error with at least 120 chances.

    ''It's kind of where the game's going,'' Snitker said. ''Flaherty is a really solid defensive player. Bourjos is a really above-average defensive outfielder. The 27 outs will be huge for us, and not giving them more. With those acquisitions, we're going to be able to stick to that. With the pitching and where we're at with that, we need to make all the plays.''

    Bourjos will likely get the role as the fifth outfielder instead of non-roster invitee Danny Santana. Flaherty gives the Braves another position player for the early weeks of the season, when the team will likely use a four-man rotation and a 12-man pitching staff.

    Once a fifth starter is needed, Atlanta is expected to carry 13 pitchers and 12 positions players.

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    Farrell: 'A little surprised' to be fired
    March 26, 2018

    BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) Even while his Boston Red Sox headed toward a second straight division crown, manager John Farrell sensed something was amiss.

    As in, his job could be in jeopardy.

    ''I think as the season wore on, and as we got down to the final weeks, maybe there was a little bit of a gut feeling like, you know what, this might be taking place,'' the new ESPN analyst said Monday, ''and it did.''

    Less than 48 hours after the Red Sox lost to Houston in the AL Division Series in October, Farrell was fired.

    Farrell's five-year tenure was marked by all-or-nothing results.

    He debuted in the Boston dugout with a World Series championship in 2013. The next two seasons, the Red Sox finished in last place. Then they posted back-to-back division titles for the first time in team history, but lost in the ALDS each year.

    Farrell was among three managers who got fired after making the playoffs - Joe Girardi of the New York Yankees and Dusty Baker also were let go.

    ''This has been a unique offseason in many ways, whether it's been managerial changes, the free agency situation, and we find ourselves still on the outside looking in,'' Farrell said during a conference call.

    ''If you finished in first place last year, you were twice as likely as to be fired as if you finished in last place. So from that perspective, yeah, a little bit surprised a change was made,'' he said.

    Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski made the move, saying: ''I thought it was the appropriate time to make a change for the betterment of the organization.''

    Alex Cora was hired as a first-time manager.

    ''I do know Dave came in and he inherited me,'' Farrell said. ''So he felt like there was a change that was needed because we made quick exits the two years consecutive going into the postseason. So the expectation as it is every year, whether it's New York or Boston, LA, Chicago, to go deep into the October run, we didn't do it.''

    ''So I wish Alex Cora and everybody all the best there going forward,'' he said.

    The 55-year-old Farrell has a new job, too. Two of them, actually.

    Farrell was recently hired by Cincinnati as an internal scout, looking over the Reds' organization and focusing mostly on pitching. The former big league pitcher and pitching coach spent 10 days with the team at spring training this month in Goodyear, Arizona.

    ''This is a non-uniform position. So, like I said, it's more evaluation and recommendation from a development plan standpoint, but the focus being at the upper levels,'' he said.

    Farrell's son, Luke, made his big league debut last year with Kansas City. He later pitched for Cincinnati and threw a scoreless inning against Boston. The right-hander is in camp with the Chicago Cubs this spring.

    Last week, his dad joined ESPN as a studio analyst for ''Baseball Tonight.'' He'll begin Wednesday night when he helps preview the season, which opens Thursday.

    Mark Teixeira is among the broadcasters that Farrell will work with. He starred for the Yankees in 2009 when they won the World Series under Girardi.

    ''I think in the Yankees' perspective, Joe had a great run there, and everyone respected Joe,'' Teixeira said. ''Everyone liked Joe. But with the young crew that was coming up - the Baby Bombers, if you will - I think Joe's intensity was a little much for guys.''

    ''I think that the front office noticed that when young talent comes up, you want to play loose. You want to have fun. Maybe they just wanted a new fresh face in there, a fresh voice, and Aaron Boone was that fresh voice,'' he said. ''I don't think it is an indictment on Joe Girardi as manager. I think it's just the clubhouse culture that the Yankees wanted.''
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    Yanks' Greg Bird out 6-8 weeks
    March 26, 2018

    ATLANTA (AP) Oft-injured New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird will need surgery on his ailing right ankle and could be sidelined for nearly two months.

    The Yankees learned of the setback Monday while in Atlanta for their final exhibition of spring training, three days before the season opener at Toronto.

    ''Obviously, we were hoping it was going to be a shorter-term thing,'' said first-year manager Aaron Boone, who took over a team that reached Game 7 of the AL Championship Series. ''But we feel like we got some answers. We feel like we know what the surgery's going to accomplish.''

    Bird will have surgery will remove a small broken spur on the outside of the right ankle. Dr. Martin O'Malley is scheduled to operate Tuesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

    The slugger is expected to be out for six-to-eight weeks.

    ''Hopefully this is something he will now put behind him for good,'' Boone said. ''We feel pretty good that the surgery is fairly minor and they're going to go in and correct the problem. Then he should be good to go.''

    Tyler Austin, who had been slated to start the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will likely get the bulk of the playing time at first base in Bird's absence. There also will be games when Neil Walker shifts over from second base to first.

    Austin is looking forward to the opportunity. The 26-year-old hit consecutive home runs with Aaron Judge in their first major league plate appearances two years ago but has played a total of 51 games with the Yankees over the last two seasons, hitting .236 with seven homers and 20 RBIs.

    ''I'm just excited to be part of this team,'' Austin said ''You never want to see a guy go down. But I believe we have the pieces in here to make up for what is lost when he's out. I think that between Neil and I, we can make some special things happen.''

    The 25-year-old Bird has been promising yet perplexing since his big league debut in 2015, when he came up from the minors and had 11 homers and 31 RBIs in 46 games.

    He missed 2016 after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Last year, Bird hit .451 with eight homers in spring training but fouled a ball off his right ankle on March 30, started the season 6 for 60 and went on the disabled list May 2.

    When the foot did not improve, O'Malley operated July 18 to remove a bone in the ankle.

    Bird returned Aug. 26 and hit .253 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 29 games, then batted .241 three homers and six RBIs in 13 playoff games. Most notably, he homered off Andrew Miller to account for the lone run in a 1-0 victory over Cleveland in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

    Bird struggled this spring training, hitting just .154 in 52 at-bats with one homer, one double and four RBIs.

    In retrospect, Boone said, the player may have been favoring the ankle, though the team did not realize there was a problem until the closing days of spring training.

    ''I think it's fair that it was a contributor to him not really clicking yet,'' the manager said.

    Boone said he's confident Austin can fill the void at first. He hit .227 with four homers in spring training.

    ''We feel like he's a really good player,'' Boone said. ''Tyler Austin is ready for this opportunity. He was just blocked by Greg Bird.''

    The Yankees have some flexibility on the right side of the infield with Walker able to play both first and second base. With second baseman Tyler Wade also in the mix, Boone feels like he has three players for two positions.

    Austin is a right-handed hitter, Wade a lefty and Walker a switch-hitter.

    ''We'll play the match-up game pretty much each and every day.'' Boone said. ''You'll see different combinations with Walker at first and Wade at second, Austin at first and Walker at second. We feel good about it. We're certainly going to miss Greg, but we feel good about what we can do from a matchup standpoint with those guys.''

    While the loss of Bird casts a bit of a pall over the opener, Boone said he's trying to think long term.

    ''In the grand scheme of things,'' the manager said, ''hopefully we do look back and it's a short-term bump in the road and we can get him back for good.''
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    Kingery celebrates $24M deal with HR
    March 26, 2018

    CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) Scott Kingery celebrated his historic contract with a home run.

    A day after the Phillies gave the prized prospect a $24 million, six-year contract that could be worth $65 million over nine seasons, Kingery went deep in his second at-bat against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday in Philadelphia's next-to-last spring training game.

    ''It's unbelievable to be in a moment like this,'' Kingery said a few hours earlier. ''Right now, I'm just excited and with the talented group of guys we've got in this clubhouse. It's an exciting time and there's something special going on. For me, there is a lot of excitement to get up to Philly and get this thing started.''

    Kingery gets a $1.5 million signing bonus payable within 90 days of the deal's approval by the commissioner's office and salaries of $750,000 this year, $1.25 million in 2019, $1.5 million in 2020, $4 million in 2021, $6 million in 2022 and $8 million in 2023. The Phillies have 2024 option at $13 million with a $1 million buyout, a 2025 option at $14 million with a $500,000 buyout and 2026 option at $15 million with a $250,000 buyout. Only the first buyout is guaranteed.

    He received the largest guarantee for a player with no major league experience, topping Stephen Strasburg's $15.1 million, four-year deal with Washington after the pitcher was taken with the first pick in the 2009 amateur draft. Since the rules were changed after the 2011 season, forcing all draft picks to sign only minor league contracts, the largest had been first baseman Jon Singleton's $10 million, five-year contract with Houston in 2014.

    Tampa Bay gave third baseman Evan Longoria a $17.5 million, six-year contract after he played six games in 2008, a deal with options that would have been worth $44.5 million over nine seasons had not the player and team agreed to a new deal in November 2012.

    ''As an organization, this is the best success tory we can have,'' general manager Matt Klentak said. ''A guy who was drafted by the Phillies, developed through the system and achieves a moment like this through hard work and grit and determination. It's exactly what you want as an organization.''

    The 23-year-old Kingery doesn't have a full-time starting job yet, so manager Gabe Kapler plans to use him in a utility role. Kingery is regarded as the best second-base prospect in baseball but the Phillies currently have Cesar Hernandez as their starting second baseman. Kingery can play third base, shortstop and all three outfield spots.

    ''Scott has the ability and not just the willingness and overall athleticism to move around the diamond,'' Kapler said. ''We're in a unique position with great teammates, a really athletic individual, a flexibly-minded individual for all of this to work beautifully.''

    Kingery hit .304 with 26 home runs and 29 steals as a second baseman for Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Double-A Reading last year. He was a second-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft from the University of Arizona.

    The Phillies were 66-96 last year and haven't had a winning season since 2011. They've been aggressive in the offseason and signed ace Jake Arrieta and veteran Carlos Santana.
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    Ex-major leaguers struggle with retirement
    March 26, 2018

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Todd Helton now regularly drives his two daughters to school or other activities back home in Tennessee, a huge life change for Colorado's former All-Star first baseman.

    He had no idea walking away from baseball would be such a daunting and overwhelming adjustment. The daily routine that had become part of his DNA - the bantering, the batting practice, the games - replaced by chauffeuring kids, helping around the house and some golf.

    ''It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life,'' Helton said. ''I've been a baseball player since I could walk, always knew I was going to be a baseball player.''

    As baseball begins anew, many former players realize just how tough it is.

    No more opening days. No adrenaline rush from batting with the bases loaded and two outs in front of 40,000 fans going crazy. No clubhouse camaraderie, sharing a goal of reaching the World Series.

    The planes, the hotels, the autograph seekers and, sure, the money. But a structure totally built around being at the stadium, suddenly replaced by mundane tasks with nobody watching.

    ''You step away and the game goes on without you, no matter how great you were,'' former outfielder Randy Winn said. ''And there are some really great players standing around here that aren't playing anymore: world champions, All-Stars, Barry (Bonds) walks in and some of the greatest of all time. And the game goes on. There's younger people that come in that get talked about. That's maybe not the hardest thing but it's kind of the `What's next for me?' that is the hard part.''

    Injuries forced ex-San Francisco pitcher Noah Lowry to retire early , and he now owns an outdoors store in Northern California and joined the Chamber of Commerce.

    Like Helton, he also felt lost without his sport.

    ''I felt dead inside,'' Lowry said.

    One-time Giants teammate Jack Taschner became a police officer in Wisconsin. He blossomed into an internet sensation last fall when he showed up at a high school football game and fooled fans by leading a group cheer in the stands.

    Helton retired after the 2013 season following a 17-year career, all with the Rockies. He returned to Coors Field last Sept. 15 for a reunion of the 2007 NL champions who were swept by Boston in the World Series. While there, Helton visited a back room in the clubhouse and reminisced while looking at the bat rack where his lumber once rested.

    It can be a difficult change even when you know your time's up. Especially for those players who didn't earn the kind of salaries to support them for decades to come.

    ''If you're lucky you're in your mid-30s, right? Let's say you make it to the big leagues when you're 25 and if you're lucky you play five years - you're 30 years old,'' said Winn, who retired in April 2011 after 13 major league seasons in the outfield with Tampa Bay, Seattle, San Francisco, the New York Yankees and St. Louis.

    ''You have 50 years of being retired, so that's daunting. Even if you do play 20 years you still have a lot of years on the other side to figure out kind of `What do I want to do?' Fred McGriff told me when I first retired - that's my guy, he took me under his wing when I was a rookie - he said, `Randy, there's only so much golf you can play.'''

    Retired reliever Scott Eyre, who pitched 13 big league seasons with five teams, announced ''I need a job!'' in a Facebook post on Aug. 31.

    Those still working in baseball realize how fortunate they are to have stayed part of the game they love.

    ''I always planned to be involved in the game. I never dreamed I would be managing, that was new for me,'' said A.J. Hinch of the World Series champion Houston Astros. ''But being able to be in the game, it's what we know, it's what we love. We're used to the rigors and the routine of the season.

    ''It's hard to be away. You spend so much time on a baseball team or in a baseball season, it's impossible not to miss it.''

    Winn said the regimented baseball schedule always has players somewhere at a specific time - from buses to flights to stretching and batting practice. And that's often all these men have known for years.

    ''And even in the offseason, you don't have somewhere to be but you have a goal,'' said Winn, now a Giants special assistant and analyst. ''You take however much time you take off then you have a goal - I want to be ready for spring, so that requires me being places: at the gym, cardio, throwing, hitting, kind of on a regimented schedule.''

    To be part of a team for so long, for most way back to their Little League days, and then no longer having that daily interaction and togetherness can take a toll.

    A 13-year big league catcher, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had to walk away because of about 30 concussions from years of taking foul tips and hard collisions at the plate.

    ''It happens to everybody in any walk of life, it just happens to our guys a lot younger,'' Matheny said. ''I think some guys handle it extremely well. Most of them have a balance and once again they kind of do figure out what is going on in their life besides the game.''

    ''There's other guys that are very content with the fact of putting the title on themselves they're going to be a lifer. They're going to be in this game no matter what. ... It all comes down to most of the guys just finding peace with where it is they're supposed to be,'' he said. ''It's not easy. I've talked with some guys who have had unbelievable careers. They just can't get their mind around not being part of something or part of a team.''


    For Lowry, four surgeries on his troublesome pitching arm sent the lefty into retirement at age 26 after parts of just five seasons. It took time to deal with the sadness and anger of his situation, the shame, the depression. He called the transition to his next chapter ''a disorienting and chaotic experience.''

    He has worked with an organization called ''The Revenant Process'' to help him take new steps, redefine his life's meaning and deal with what came next. A father of three, he also gives his time to Bay Area youth in various capacities.

    In a video he shared, Lowry opens up about how losing baseball brought back anxieties from his childhood that kept him from developing close friendships.

    ''In a moment, my identity crumbled, who I thought I was, the man my wife thought she had married, fell apart. The innocence of my childhood turned to shame as I grew older,'' he shared. ''... Leaving the majors was the final crack in the dam that had been holding back years of pent-up anger, doubt and fear.''


    Taschner pitched six seasons in the majors and owns a 10-5 lifetime record. His 50 innings for the Giants in 2007 were a career high and he pitched 189 innings in all.

    He had to go back to work.

    The 39-year-old Taschner is a police officer in Appleton in his home state of Wisconsin. He works as a school resource officer and investigator .

    ''I was somewhat prepared. I knew that law enforcement was my next step,'' Taschner said. ''I didn't know what that looked like, but had the initial plan.''


    At age 59, Mike Scioscia can only imagine what the day might look like when he's no longer in uniform, and he knows that's not too far off.

    Another former catcher now managing has seen players struggle through their departures from baseball.

    ''I think it's a huge adjustment. I think everybody's different. A lot of us that are closer to retirement than just starting in this game. It's not that you dwell on it. But sure, it's a different lifestyle,'' the Los Angeles Angels manager said.

    ''Most of these guys come through the minor leagues and even if they played for five years in the minor leagues and seven years in the major leagues, you're on a schedule for 12 years. Even that changes things when you wake up February and there's no spring training and you actually have a Fourth of July picnic at home, things that you take for granted,'' he said. ''Some guys I know it's seamless, they go from one thing to another ... some guys it's just that their career ends and they're 33 years old or 34 years old and all of a sudden there's no spring training.''

    From that first reporting day of spring through a six-month season with almost daily games, when it's all over the sense of loss can be overwhelming.

    ''You always talk about that camaraderie and it's almost like working toward something bigger than just you,'' Matheny said. ''It's hard to go find anything that could ever replicate what you had here.''


    Years later, Helton is accustomed to his new, far-different routine. At 44, he golfs, he goes fishing, he is director of player development for Tennessee's baseball team.

    He works out most mornings, while acknowledging ''it's a lot harder to work out now when you don't have anything to work out for.''

    ''I thought I was totally prepared for it. I knew it was coming, so it's not like it was any surprise. I was 40 years old and still playing,'' he said. ''Stopping playing and taking your kids to and from school, that's a big adjustment. It was hard.''

    He came to the point he appreciates being there for all his girls' after-school activities.

    Helton had to fight through being down the way he did a hitting slump. He had been No. 17 for so long.

    ''Life's good again. It took a couple years,'' he said. ''Every day's a Sunday for me.''
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  19. #194  
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    Tuesday’s 6-pack

    Odds on teams to make the playoffs this season:

    Chicago Cubs: Yes -$310, No +$280

    Boston Red Sox: Yes -$310, No +$250

    Arizona Diamondbacks: Yes +$115, No -$135

    Cleveland Indians: Yes -$1,100, No +$700

    Los Angeles Angels: Yes +$145, No -$170

    Miami Marlins: Yes +4,000, No -$20,000

    Quote of the Day

    “Because of fit, I would take Sam Darnold if I were the Cleveland Browns. I think [he has] that blue-collar, gritty attitude. I think his teammates will love him. I think the city will love him. He’ll say the right things. He’ll come in and represent well. I think he kind of represents what Cleveland is. And then if I was one of the New York teams, I’d take Josh (Rosen) like that. I think they’re both going to be great pros.”
    Jim Mora, who was ROSEN’S coach at UCLA last year

    Tuesday’s quiz

    How many colleges in Illinois have won the college basketball national championship?

    Monday’s quiz

    Klay Thompson played his college basketball at Washington State.

    Sunday’s quiz
    QB Mark Sanchez (2009) was the last offensive player the Jets drafted in the first round.


    Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……..

    13) Allow me to start today with a rant……

    Texas-Arlington’s basketball team went 72-33 the last three years, 37-19 in conference games, but they didn’t win the Sun Belt tourney in the last 10 years- their only NCAA appearance was in 2008, which was the second year as head coach for Scott Cross, a UTA alum.

    Tex-Arlington fired Cross Monday, after a 21-13 season when the Mavericks had the most experienced team in America, starting five seniors. Why?

    Firing a mid-major coach who is an alumnus and is an honest guy (the school’s statement went out of its way to say so) and who won 72 games the last three years? No bueno.

    You wonder why coaches break the rules so they can win? Stuff like that is why……

    12) Whoever the next coach is at Arlington has a full rebuild on his hands; of the eight players who played in the Sun Belt final vs Georgia State, seven were seniors.

    11) I saw this on Twitter Monday night and I’m borrowing (stealing) it. The only seven players who hit 2+ homers in an Opening Day game more than once:

    Adam Dunn, Juan Gonzalez, Eddie Mathews, Raul Mondesi, Xavier Nady, Albert Pujols, Joe Torre.

    10) Bronx 1B Greg Bird is out 6-8 weeks because of an ankle injury that requires surgery; they could move Neil Walker to 1B and play young Tyler Wade at 2B.

    9) I’m watching Billions on Showtime (a great show) Sunday night and one of the characters goes into a New York City deli and orders an egg cream, which looks like a milkshake but I have no idea what it really is. It looked good, so I did some research.

    Several people had no idea what I was talking about, but my cousin hooked me up with some knowledge: 1/2 cup of whole milk, one cup of seltzer, two tablespoons of chocolate syrup.

    I’ll report back when I have one of these and let you know if they’re any good.

    8) There are 32 NFL teams, two coordinators per team. Of those 64 high-paying jobs, 31 of them have changed hands since last season ended. Football coaches are nomads.

    7) Los Angeles Rams signed Ndamukong Suh to a 1-year, $14M deal; Rams had 6th-most cap space in the league before this signing- their defensive line should be really good.

    6) ESPN’s Chris Mortensen predicts the college QB’s will be drafted in this order next month:

    “Darnold, Allen, Mayfield, Rosen”

    Surprising to me that Mayfield passed Rosen, since Rosen is considered the best pure passer of the rookie QB’s right now. As always, the draft will be interesting.

    5) NASCAR race got snowed out in Virginia Sunday; weird having a car race live on TV at 2:00 on a Monday afternoon.

    4) RIP Wayne Huizenga, 80; he founded three Fortune 500 companies (Waste Management , Blockbuster and AutoNation), and also owned the Dolphins-Marlins-Florida Panthers.

    RIP Zeke Upshaw 26, a player in the G-League who collapsed during a game last week and later passed away, apparently due to heart failure.

    3) Sounds like Tubby Smith will surface as the coach at High Point, his alma mater. Panthers fired former North Carolina player Scott Cherry after nine years as coach, despite his going 68-36 in Big South games the last six years.

    2) According to the Associated Press, the average salary in major league baseball is on track to be around the same as last year’s $4.45 million, maybe slightly higher.

    1— Daytime television is horrendous, except for March, when MLB Network shows spring training games every day. With baseball season starting Thursday, that’ll be the end of good daytime TV for 11 months. Unless you like politics, but I’m not one of those people.
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  20. #195  
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    DET at TB 12:35 PM
    TB -120

    PIT at PHI 01:05 PM
    PHI -126

    CHC at BOS 01:05 PM
    CHC +103

    CIN at TEX 02:05 PM
    TEX -130

    MIL at HOU 02:10 PM
    HOU -195

    SEA at COL 03:10 PM
    COL -127

    CLE at ARI 03:40 PM
    CLE -120

    MIN at WAS 04:05 PM
    MIN +142

    STL at TOR 07:07 PM
    STL +120

    OAK at SF 09:05 PM
    SF -117

    LAA at LAD 10:10 PM
    LAA +170
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