Update on the latest in sports:
Hall of Famer Cox in hospital, Braves manager ‘very concerned’
ATLANTA (AP) – Hall of Famer Bobby Cox, the Atlanta Braves former longtime manager, has been admitted into an Atlanta-area hospital. Braves manager Brian Snitker told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he reached out to Cox’s family and was “very concerned” but couldn’t share details of his condition. The 77-year-old Cox was admitted with undisclosed medical issues on Tuesday.
Cox wore a Braves jersey while shouting “play ball!” before the first pitch of Monday night’s home opener against the Chicago Cubs. Cox ranks fourth all-time with 2,504 wins in 29 years as a manager, including 25 years in two stints with the Braves and four years with Toronto. Cox led the Braves to 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005, including the 1995 World Series title.
In other MLB news:
– The Cleveland Indians may have some injury issues, bullpen worries and payroll problems, but, they’re set at manager. The club signed Terry Francona to a two-year contract extension on Wednesday through the 2022 season, giving him more security and a chance to become the longest tenured manager in Cleveland’s rich history. Francona’s deal was set to expire after 2020. But as he begins his seventh season with the Indians, the club decided to lengthen its relationship with the popular manager known as “Tito” – also his father’s name – for at least another two years.
-And, the Indians may provide a more definitive timetable for Francisco Lindor’s return from a sprained left ankle. Lindor visited a specialist Monday, and Cleveland said Tuesday that Lindor would miss more time, but the injury only appears to be a minor setback for the star shortstop. Lindor is meeting with manager Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti, the club’s president of baseball operations, and the Indians might have more info on Lindor’s prognosis after that.
Harper back against the Nationals tonight, Nationals Turner out with injury
WASHINGTON (AP) – Bryce Harper and the Phillies are 4-0 for the first time since 1915, when they opened 8-0 en route to an NL pennant. Harper has been a driving force after signing a $330 million, 13-year deal, crushing his third homer in his first game at Washington since ending his seven-year tenure with the Nationals.
While, Nationals shortstop Trea Turner will be out indefinitely after breaking his right index finger while trying to bunt. Standing at the plate in the first inning yesterday against Philadelphia, Turner squared to bunt versus Zach Elfin. The fastball hit the finger on his right hand, which was wrapped around the bat. Wilmer Difo replaced Turner and will assume the role of starter for the time being. The Nationals host the Phillies again tonight.
Elsewhere in the majors:
-NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom makes his second start this season for the Mets, this time facing the Marlins. DeGrom is seeking his 31st consecutive start allowing three runs or fewer, already a major league record, after striking out 10 in a thrilling matchup against Washington’s Max Scherzer on opening day. DeGrom is 4-6 against the Marlins, who have beaten him more than any other team. The Mets play the Marlins in Miami tonight.
-Kevin Pillar is expected to make his first start with the Giants after being acquired Tuesday from the Toronto Blue Jays. Pillar has been one of the AL’s best defensive center fielders, a highlight machine nicknamed Superman for his high-flying catches. But he’s expected to play more right field for San Francisco in deference to youngster Steven Duggar. Pillar batted .252 with 15 homers last season. The seven-year veteran also has a strong clubhouse reputation. L.A. Dodgers hosts San Francisco tonight.
-The Orioles have won four straight, already matching their longest winning streak during a 115-loss 2018 season. They’ll try to make it five against Toronto tonight. All the victories have come on the road, Baltimore’s first four-game streak away from home since 2016. Nate Karns will take his second turn as an opener – he pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday. Blue Jays righty Matt Shoemaker looks for a second straight strong outing to open the season after shutting down the Tigers last week.
Also on the MLB schedule (all times Eastern):
Chicago White Sox (Rodon 0-1) at Cleveland (Kluber 0-1), 1:10 p.m.
Colorado (Marquez 1-0) at Tampa Bay (Morton 1-0), 1:10 p.m.
Minnesota (Gibson 0-0) at Kansas City (Bailey 0-0), 1:15 p.m.
Detroit (Boyd 0-1) at N.Y. Yankees (Loaisiga 0-0), 4:05 p.m.
Houston (Cole 0-1) at Texas (Minor 0-1), 8:05 p.m.
Boston (Eovaldi 0-0) at Oakland (Estrada 0-0), 10:07 p.m.
Milwaukee (Peralta 0-0) at Cincinnati (Castillo 0-0), 12:35 p.m.
Colorado (Marquez 1-0) at Tampa Bay (Morton 1-0), 1:10 p.m.
Arizona (Ray 0-0) at San Diego (Lucchesi 1-0), 3:40 p.m.
St. Louis (Mikolas 0-1) at Pittsburgh (Taillon 0-1), 7:05 p.m.
Chicago Cubs (Lester 1-0) at Atlanta (Teheran 0-1), 7:20 p.m.
Red Wings extend Blashill contract
DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Red Wings announced a two-year contract extension with coach Jeff Blashill on Tuesday, giving their young leader a vote of confidence in a rebuild that will now include a third straight year without a playoff berth after a 25-year postseason run.
The 45-year-old Blashill is in his fourth season as coach of the storied franchise, which has won five straight games but was still just 31-38-10 going into Tuesday night’s home game against Pittsburgh.
General manager Ken Holland praised Blashill for keeping the Red Wings competitive and “hard to play against every night.”
UNDATED (AP) – The Calgary Flames have already clinched the Western conference and are on the ice against Anaheim tonight. St. Louis has already clinched a playoff spot and face the Chicago Avalanche. And, the N.Y. Rangers host Ottawa Senators.
Virginia Tech AD: Buzz Williams taking Texas A&M job
Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock says coach Buzz Williams has accepted the same job at Texas A&M.
Babcock made the announcement Wednesday and lauded Williams for making “a very positive impact on the culture of our basketball program at Virginia Tech.”
Virginia Tech was 100-69 during those five seasons and went to four postseason tournaments, including the last three NCAA Tournaments, with this year’s run ending in the Sweet 16.
Williams, who will be returning to his native Texas, did it despite taking over a program that had finished last in the Atlantic Coast Conference for four straight seasons and had a culture in which postseason departures were becoming commonplace.
Before his first season, the Hokies lost five players who transferred, then a sixth during the season.
NCAA Tournament talent, AP Analysis
UNDATED (AP) – To make it consistently to the NCAA Tournament, it takes NBA-ready talent. An Associated Press analysis of rosters of Tournament players found that those who leave school early, go far consistently. Though there are exceptions scattered about, AP found that the teams that regularly advance to the Elite Eight are also the teams with the most early entries in the NBA draft. Even without the star “one-and-dones”, this Final Four has several players who will leave college with eligibility remaining.
Light-filled stadium creates complex Final Four conversion
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A loss in the one-and-done NCAA Tournament pulls the curtains on a team’s season. As for those that made it to the Final Four in Minneapolis this year? They’ll literally be greeted by giant drapes, one of several complex and expensive tasks that’s part of converting a football-sized venue to a basketball-friendly facility. At first-time host U.S. Bank Stadium, the temporary blinds for the front windows and translucent roof cost $4.6 million and took about a week to install.
The NCAA first began using an “in-the-round” seating configuration at Ford Field in Detroit in 2009, where the court is placed on the middle of the turf instead of in one of the corners and the entire bowl is used. The minimum-capacity requirement for a Final Four was raised to 60,000 seats.
That whittled the candidate pool to the 10 climate-controlled NFL-level venues,
There are currently only 10 covered stadiums big enough in the entire country to bid to host the event.