Update on the latest sports
Novak Djokovic tests positive for coronavirus
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Novak Djokovic has tested positive for the coronavirus after taking part in a tennis exhibition series he organized in Serbia and Croatia.
The top-ranked Serb is the fourth player to test positive for the virus after first playing in Belgrade and then again last weekend in Zadar, Croatia. His wife also tested positive. Djokovic says “the moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive.”
Djokovic has been criticized for organizing the tournament and bringing in players from other countries amid the coronavirus pandemic. There were no social distancing measures observed at the matches in either country.
Player’s association rejects MLB schedule
NEW YORK (AP) – Major League Baseball plans to unilaterally issue a 60-game schedule for its shortest season since 1878 after the players’ association rejected a negotiated deal of the same length, putting the sport on track for a combative and possibly unhappy return to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Six days after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and union head Tony Clark negotiated to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16, widen use of the designated hitter to National League games and introduce an experiment to start extra innings with a runner on second base, the deal was rejected by the union.
MLB asked the union to respond by 5 p.m. EDT today as to whether players can report to training by July 1 and whether the players’ association will agree on the operating manual of health and safety protocols. The schedule would be the shortest since the National League’s third season.
Given the need for three days of virus testing and 21 days of workouts, opening day would likely be during the final week of July. MLB already has started to investigate charter flights that could bring players back from Latin America, another person told the AP, also on condition of anonymity because no announcements were made.
White Sox announce deal with 1st-round draft pick Crochet
CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago White Sox have signed first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet to a minor league contract that includes a signing bonus worth $4,547,500. Crochet went No. 11 overall in the June 10 amateur draft.
The 20-year-old left-hander made one start before his junior season at Tennessee was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, striking out six in 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
The 6-foot-6 Crochet is known for his blazing fastball. He went 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA in 18 appearances with the Volunteers during his sophomore season, averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
In other MLB draft news:
– The Chicago Cubs have signed first-round draft pick Ed Howard to a minor league contract that includes a $3,745,500 bonus. The 18-year-old shortstop was a prep star at Mount Carmel High School on Chicago’s South Side. He also started for the 2014 Jackie Robinson West Little League team that advanced to the finals of the Little League World Series. Howard had committed to the University of Oklahoma. He received a signing bonus equal to his assigned slot value.
Blaney wins, race starts with show of solidarity
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) -Ricky Stenhouse Jr. edged Ryan Blaney to win the second stage of a rain-delayed race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The day began with a show of support for driver Bubba Wallace. Fellow drivers lined up and pushed his car to the front of pit road in a show of solidarity. The entire 40-driver field and all their crew members followed. After the car came to a stop, Wallace climbed out, sat on the window ledge and sobbed. Richard Petty, his Hall of Fame team owner, gently placed a hand on Wallace’s shoulder.
The move came one day after a crew member found a noose in his garage stall. Wallace is the only fulltime Black driver in the top NASCAR series. Two weeks ago, he successfully pushed NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag at its facilities.
The FBI is investigating the discovery of the noose. President Steve Phelps says security has been stepped up for Wallace since the noose was found on Sunday.
– A makeshift noose was found hanging from a tree at the Sonoma Raceway in California and officials say they’re investigating the incident. Raceway President Steve Page says “piece of twine tied in what appeared to be a noose” was found hanging from a tree Saturday behind a former administrative office. Page says the incident is under investigation by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. Sonoma Raceway was closed over the weekend due the coronavirus pandemic.
– Police are looking into an incident in which a plane pulled a banner with the words “White Lives Matter Burnley” on it over Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium at the start of a Premier League match between the teams. The aircraft came into view moments after players and coaches from both clubs took a knee at kickoff in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It circled the stadium for several minutes. Police in Lancashire say they will be “fully investigating” the incident. Burnley has vowed to “work fully with the authorities to identify those responsible and issue lifetime bans.”
NBA-RAPTORS ARRIVE IN FLORIDA
Raptors to bring preps for restart of NBA season
MIAMI (AP) – The Toronto Raptors arrived in southwest Florida on Monday, set to begin their preparations for next month’s restart of the NBA season. If the Raptors return to the NBA Finals, they could be in Florida for nearly four full months.
The reigning NBA champions will start training for the season restart later this week at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, making that school their home base until they head north to the Disney complex near Orlando, Florida, around July 7.
What awaits the Raptors is a different setup than what will be the case for the other 21 NBA teams that will be participating in the restart at Disney. Other teams will be working out at their home facilities, but as the NBA’s lone team from outside the U.S., the Raptors would have had some logistical difficulties in having players gather in Toronto to prepare for the trip to Disney.
Elsewhere in the NBA:
– The Dallas Mavericks will be without veteran guard Courtney Lee when organized workouts resume. The Mavericks say Lee injured his left calf during the NBA hiatus and won’t be available when workouts are scheduled to start up again July 1. Lee had become a part-time starter after Jalen Brunson injured his right shoulder. After playing in only 10 of the first 50 games for the Mavericks this season, Lee appeared in 14 of their last 17. That included March 11 against Denver in the final NBA game completed before the season was put on hold because of the coronavirus.
– Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans will skip the Florida-based resumption of the NBA season. He is the first known example of a healthy, eligible player sitting out. Bertans can become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is expected to command a big contract as one of the league’s top 3-point shooters. The Wizards are allowed to sign a replacement player for Bertans as early as Tuesday.
– The Detroit Pistons introduced Troy Weaver as their new general manager. The former Oklahoma City Thunder executive joins a Detroit team that was interested in him previously – and he takes over a GM spot that was vacant for a couple years. Pistons owner Tom Gores said the team tried to talk to Weaver a couple years ago, but the Thunder weren’t ready to let him go. Detroit has not had an official GM since shaking up its front office in 2018. Ed Stefanski, a senior advisor to Gores, has been running the front office. Gores says Weaver will work with Stefanski and coach Dwane Casey.
KOBE BRYANT-HIGH SCHOOL
Kobe Bryant high school footage to be auctioned on July 23
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Kobe Bryant’s time in high school will be showcased when about 22 hours of footage of the late basketball star playing games and giving interviews will be sold on July 23 by the auction house Profiles in History. The footage is from the media library of Stu Ross, who produced “High School Sports Show,” a syndicated weekly television series seen in 35 cities.
About 60% of the Bryant footage is of games involving the Lower Merion Aces from the Philadelphia suburbs. Ross’ library includes 130 hours and more than 700 athletes, including LeBron James, Tom Brady, Michael Phelps, Ryan Braun, Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal.
Mystics’ Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders to skip WNBA season
WASHINGTON (AP) – Washington Mystics players Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders are opting out of participating in the 2020 WNBA season for the league’s reigning champions. Cloud says she wants to “fight on the front lines for social reform.” Sanders says taking the season off “is what’s best for my health and family.”
Their announcements follow those of other WNBA players who have said they won’t be a part of plans for a 22-game schedule that would begin in late July.
Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones is going to sit out because of concerns about COVID-19.
Atlanta’s Renee Montgomery is missing the season to focus on social justice issues.
Veteran NHL forward Chris Thorburn announces retirement
UNDATED (AP) – Veteran forward Chris Thorburn has announced his retirement after playing more than 800 NHL games since 2005. Thorburn spent his last time on the ice celebrating the St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup last season. Despite playing just one game for the Blues in 2018-19, he was the fourth player handed the Cup. Thorburn played 801 regular-season games for the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets and Blues. He skated in four playoff games with Winnipeg in 2015. The 37-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, finishes his NHL career with 53 goals, 81 assists and 968 penalty minutes.
Oklahoma State’s Cunningham staying despite postseason ban
UNDATED (AP) – Cade Cunningham, one of the nation’s top basketball recruits, has chosen to remain at Oklahoma State despite the program being banned from the 2021 postseason. Cunningham won the Naismith High School Trophy given to the nation’s best player. The 6-foot-7 point guard was a key piece of Oklahoma State’s highly ranked recruiting class. Many wondered what the one-and-done prospect would do. Cunningham announced in a video he posted to social media that he would stay.
Earlier this month, an NCAA infractions committee panel handed down numerous penalties related to findings that former assistant coach Lamont Evans accepted up to $22,000 in bribes intended to help steer athletes to certain financial advisers. Oklahoma State is appealing.