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March 21, 2019
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March 21, 2019
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Update on the latest in sports:





Report: Ichiro will retire in Japan after Mariners vs. A’s


TOKYO (AP) – Ichiro Suzuki started for the Seattle Mariners on Thursday in what the Japanese news agency Kyodo is reporting will be his final major league game.


Kyodo didn’t cite the source of its report.


The 45-year-old fouled out his first time up and grounded out in his next at-bat against Oakland. Each time the crowd chanted “Ichiro, Ichiro” as camera flashes and iPhone flashes lit up the 45,000 sellout at the Tokyo Dome.


Seattle manager Scott Servais (SUR’-vihs) had hinted that, after Ichiro started in a season-opening victory against the Athletics on Wednesday, he might not start the final game of the two-game series that opened the Major League Baseball season.


Ichiro has had a difficult spring, finding it hard to rebound after stepping aside last May to become a Mariners front office assistant. He was 2 for 25 in spring training games, and then 0 for 6 in two exhibition games in Japan this week against the Tokyo Giants. The Japan exhibitions do not count as official games. If they did, Ichiro would be hitting .065.


He has 3,089 hits since joining the Mariners in 2001, and another 1,278 playing earlier in Japan – baseball’s all-time hits leader.


In other baseball news:


– Rookie Brandon Lowe has agreed to a six-year, $24 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays, seven months after making his major league debut. Lowe’s deal includes club options for 2025 and 2026 with escalators that could make the agreement worth $49 million over eight seasons. The 24-year-old infielder and outfielder has just 58 days of major league service. Lowe joins Evan Longoria, Matt Moore and Chris Archer as players with less than one year of major league service when they accepted long-term deals with Tampa Bay.


– The Astros and right-hander Ryan Pressly have agreed to a three-year, $20.4 million contract, a deal that adds $17.5 million over an additional two seasons. Pressley would have been eligible for free agency after this season.


– Outfielder Matt Joyce has reached agreement on a minor league deal with the Giants following his release by Cleveland. Joyce played in just 83 games last season while dealing with a lingering back injury, batting .208 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs.


– The White Sox are nearing a $43 million, six-year contract with highly regarded outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez, a person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press. Jimenez’s deal would nearly double the previous high for a player with no major league service. Jimenez was a key part of the trade that sent pitcher Jose Quintana to the Cubs during the 2017 season.


– Bryce Harper finally got his first spring training hit with the Philadelphia Phillies after an 0 for 9 start. The slugger lined a 97-mph fastball to center on a 2-1 pitch from Detroit Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game.


– The Cincinnati Reds’ first African-American player has died at the age of 94. The team says Charles “Chuck” Harmon died Tuesday, nearly 65 years after he made his debut against the Braves in Milwaukee on April 17, 1954.




Cavs delay Bucks’ division title celebration


UNDATED (AP) – The Cleveland Cavaliers were able to prevent the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks from clinching the NBA’s Central Division title on Wednesday.


Rookie Collin Sexton scored 25 points and Jordan Clarkson finished with 23 points as the Cavs got past the Bucks, 107-102. Sexton made a 3-pointer with 1:42 left and dropped a driving layup one minute later as Cleveland dropped the Bucks to 53-19.


Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON’-poh) missed the game with a sprained right ankle that also caused him to sit out Tuesday’s win. The team also announced that forward Nikola Mirotic (NEE’-koh-luh MEER’-uh-tihch) is out indefinitely after an examination of his left thumb revealed a sprain and a fracture.


Checking out Wednesday’s other NBA action:


– Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam) had 33 points and 13 rebounds in the Raptors’ 123-114 overtime win at Oklahoma City. Fred VanVleet delivered 23 points and six assists for the Raptors, who blew a 20-point lead in the second half before beating the Thunder for the first time in their last five meetings.


– The Rockets fell for just the second time in 14 games despite James Harden’s 57 points in a 126-125 overtime loss to the Grizzlies. Mike Conley scored 35 points for Memphis and Jonas Valanciunas (YOH’-nuhs val-ehn-CHOO’-nihs) had a career-best 33, including the game-winning free throw with less than a second left.


– The Trail Blazers earned a 126-118 victory over the Mavericks behind Damian Lillard’s 33 points and 12 assists. Seth Curry scored 20 off the bench for the Blazers, who have won five of six to climb within a half-game of Houston for third place in the West.


– Joel Embiid (joh-EHL ehm-BEED’) had 37 points, 22 rebounds and a key block on Kyrie Irving with 35 seconds remaining to help the 76ers close out a 118-115 triumph over the Celtics. Jimmy Butler scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter of Philadelphia’s sixth straight win, which gives the Sixers a three-game lead over Indiana and four over Boston for third place in the East.


– The Spurs’ nine-game winning streak is over after Goran Dragic (GOHR’-uhn DRAH’-gich) had 22 points to help the Heat down San Antonio, 110-105. Dion Waiters added 18 points and Josh Richardson had 15 in Miami’s third straight win, which gives the Heat a 1 1/2-game lead over Orlando for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.


– Utah cruised to its fifth straight lopsided victory as Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and Rudy Gobert (goh-BEHR’) provided 18 on 7 of 7 shooting in a 137-116 thrashing of the Knicks. Joe Ingles made six 3-pointers and also scored 18, while Mitchell made five 3-pointers as Utah finished 20 of 42 from behind the arc.


– Evan Fournier provided 22 points and Aaron Gordon added 20 in the Magic’s 119-96 rout of the Pelicans. Terrence Ross had 19 points and Nikola Vucevic (NEE’-koh-lah VOO’-chech-vihch) chipped in 15 points and 17 rebounds as Orlando won its third straight to improve its playoff chances.


– Kris Dunn dropped in eight of his season-high 26 points in overtime and had 13 assists as the Bulls topped the Wizards, 126-120. Lauri Markkanen hit five 3-pointers and finished with 32 points and 13 boards for Chicago, which damaged Washington’s fading postseason hopes.




North Dakota State gets First Four win…Arizona State holds off St. John’s


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Duke now knows its opponent for the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.


Tyson Ward scored 23 points and North Dakota State earned the right to face the Blue Devils on Friday by posting a 78-74 victory against North Carolina Central in a First Four tournament game. Vinnie Shahid had 14 points, including a pair of foul shots with 8 seconds left to seal the game for the Bison.


The Eagles squandered an outstanding night by senior center Raasean Davis, who scored 20 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.


In Wednesday’s other NCAA Tournament game, Luguentz Dort overcame a hard foul and a leg injury to score 21 points and lead Arizona State to a 74-65 win over St. John’s. The Sun Devils represented the Pac-12 well after the conference went 0-for-3 in the tournament last season.


Arizona State will take on Buffalo on Friday.


Shamori Ponds had 25 points for the Red Storm.




Calipari tweet: Plan and desire is to retire at Kentucky


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – John Calipari has tweeted that his “plan and desire” is to retire at Kentucky, quashing the latest rumor in what has been an annual ritual linking him as a candidate for vacant coaching jobs.


The 10th-year Wildcats coach said on his verified Twitter account Wednesday night “there is no better job in the world” to coach basketball than at Kentucky. Calipari has periodically been mentioned as a candidate for NBA jobs, only to state his commitment to the Wildcats. His tweet did not refer to a specific opening, but the 247Sports UCLA website had reported the Hall of Fame coach was showing “serious interest” in coaching the Bruins, who fired coach Steve Alford early in the season.


Calipari is set to coach second-seeded Kentucky in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament game against No. 15 seed Abilene Christian. He followed with another tweet that said, “Now let’s focus on this game tomorrow.”




Bolts top Caps in OT


UNDATED (AP) – Don’t tell the Tampa Bay Lightning they have nothing to play for after clinching the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.


Andrei Vasilevskiy (va-sih-LEHV’-skee) set a team record with 54 saves and the Lightning earned their sixth consecutive win by outlasting the Capitals, 5-4 in overtime. Vasilevskiy was on top of his game as Washington set a franchise record with 58 shots.


NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov (KOO’-cheh-rahv) had a pair of goals, but the Bolts needed Victor Hedman’s tally at 3:01 of OT to win a battle of the two Eastern Conference division leaders.


The Caps now top the Metropolitan Division by three points over the Islanders and five over the Penguins. New York has a game in hand on Washington and Pittsburgh.


Elsewhere on NHL ice:


– Connor Hellebuyck (HEH’-leh-buhk) made 29 saves and Kyle Connor had a goal and an assist in the Jets’ fourth straight victory, 3-0 over the Ducks. Mark Scheifele (SHY’-flee) netted a power-play goal and Nikolaj Ehlers (NIH’-koh-ly EE’-lurz) also tallied as Winnipeg increased its lead in the Central Division to three points over the Predators.


– The Maple Leafs picked up a 4-2 win over the Sabres as John Tavares and Austin Matthews each contributed a goal and assist. Garrett Sparks stopped 22 shots in helping Toronto climb within four points of the Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.


– Bo Horvat had two goals and an assist in the Canucks’ 7-4 rout of the Senators. Tanner Pearson scored twice for Vancouver, which won its third in a row to move four points out of a playoff berth with eight games remaining.




Lightning’s Dan Girardi out indefinitely


UNDATED (AP) – Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.


Girardi has missed the past five games.


Tampa Bay also is without defenseman Anton Stralman, who has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury.


Also in the NHL:


– The Red Wings have signed goalie Jimmy Howard to a one-year, $4 million contract extension that keeps Howard in the fold for next season. The 34-year-old Howard has played for the Red Wings his whole NHL career, ranking third on the team’s all-time lead with 240 wins and fourth with 24 shutouts.


– The Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers will open next season in Prague and the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning will play two games in Stockholm as part of the NHL’s Global Series. Chicago and Philadelphia will face off in the Czech Republic’s capital Oct. 4, while Buffalo and Tampa Bay play their games in Sweden’s capital on Nov. 8 and 9. The league announced the games Thursday. It’s the third consecutive year the NHL is staging games in Europe as part of its Global Series.




Bears re-sign O’Donnell


UNDATED (AP) – The Chicago Bears say they have re-signed veteran punter Pat O’Donnell to a two-year contract.


O’Donnell has spent all five of his seasons with Chicago and is the franchise’s leader with a 44.9-yard career gross average. He averaged 45 yards per punt last season and tied a career high with 28 punts inside the 20.


In other news:


– The Jets have found another backup for quarterback Sam Darnold by working out a one-year package with Trevor Siemian. A person with direct knowledge of the contract says it is worth $2 million, with a maximum value of $3 million with incentives.


– Safety Clayton Geathers has agreed to a 1-year deal with the Colts. Geathers started 12 games for Indy last season and finished third on the team with a career-high 86 tackles.


– The Vikings have signed former Tennessee right guard Josh Kline for their thin offensive line. The Vikings worked out a three-year, $15.75 million deal for Kline, whose streak of 46 games started is the longest active run among all NFL guards.




Alabama approves several contracts for football staff


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) – Alabama has approved new contracts for several members of the football staff, including offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Golding.


Sarkisian, who was hired last month, has a three-year contract worth an average of $1.6 million annually. Golding, who was promoted from within the staff, also has a three-year deal. He will be paid $1.1 million this year and $1.2 million in each of the next two years.




School says ex-hoops coach part of bribery inquiry


SAN DIEGO (AP) – The University of San Diego said former basketball coach Lamont Smith was the previously unnamed “varsity coach” alleged to have taken a kickback in what federal authorities called the largest college admissions cheating scam ever prosecuted in the United States.


The private school said it was able to publicly identify Smith only after the U.S. Department of Justice modified a confidentiality order. The school said the only other people involved in the scandal who were connected to the school are a current student and one who was denied admission.


Smith resigned last March, 10 days after he was arrested for investigation of domestic violence the day after the regular-season finale in San Francisco. No charges were filed, and he became an assistant coach at UTEP.