Update on the latest sports
MLB holds off on imposing schedule until protocols locked in
NEW YORK (AP) -Major League Baseball has issued a 60-game schedule that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony. This will be MLB’s shortest season since 1878. Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games against each of the five clubs in the corresponding division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press. The sides expanded the designated hitter to games involving National League teams and will start extra innings with a runner on second base.
The union committed its members to start reporting July 1 – those who decide to report. High-risk individuals would be allowed to opt out and still receive salary and service time, but others who sit out would get neither money nor the service credit needed for eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.
Playoff teams remain at 10 for now – there is still talk of a possible expansion. The rejected deal had called for 16 teams.
Cardinals sign 1st round pick 3B Jordan Walker for $2.9M
ST. LOUIS (AP) – The St. Louis Cardinals have signed first-round draft pick Jordan Walker for $2.9 million, which comes just under the slot value for the 21st overall pick. Walker is a power-hitting third baseman picked out of high school. The Cardinals continued Tuesday to bring their selections from the first-year player draft under contract. The Cardinals already signed their second-round pick, East Carolina outfielder Alec Burleson; third-round pick Levi Prater, a left-hander from Oklahoma; and fifth-round pick L.J. Jones, an outfielder from Long Beach State.
Elsewhere in the draft:
– The Minnesota Twins have signed first round draft pick Aaron Sabato with a $2.75 million bonus. Sabato, a first baseman from North Carolina, was taken with the 27th overall pick in the first round earlier this month. He signed for about $180,000 above the value for his draft slot assigned by Major League Baseball. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Sabato set a Tarheels freshman record with 18 home runs in 2019. As a sophomore in the virus-shortened 2020 season, Sabato batted .292 with seven homers, 18 RBIs and 22 walks in 19 games.
– The Tampa Bay Rays have reached terms with first-round draft pick Nick Bitsko, giving the Pennsylvania high school pitcher a $3 million signing bonus. The 18-year-old right-hander was the 24th overall selection after going 4-2 with a 1.27 ERA and 68 strikeouts in two seasons at Central Bucks East High. Several months after announcing plans to graduate a year early, Bitsko’s final prep season was canceled this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
– The Kansas City Royals have signed all six of their draft picks, including first-rounder Asa Lacy, along with seven undrafted free agents that together give the rebuilding franchise one of the best incoming crops of first-year players in the majors. The club announced the 13 signings on Tuesday with Lacy being the headliner. The big, rangy left-hander out of Texas A&M was widely considered the top college arm in the draft, yet he slid to the Royals at the fourth overall pick.
Canada open to MLB in Toronto, needs plan
TORONTO (AP) – The Canadian government is open to Major League Baseball playing in Toronto this summer, but the league has not submitted the required plan to Canadian authorities. A senior federal government official says if MLB were to submit an acceptable restart plan to the government, an exemption letter similar to the one provided to the NHL could be provided. Ontario’s chief medical officer also says Major League Baseball hasn’t submitted a plan to local health authorities that is needed for the Blue Jays to play in Toronto amid the pandemic.
Cavs’ Drummond picking up $28 million option for next season
CLEVELAND (AP) – Cavaliers center Andre Drummond plans to exercise his $28.7 million player option for the 2020-21 season and stay with Cleveland. Drummond was acquired in a February trade with the Detroit Pistons. He said on an ESPN podcast that he intends to pick up the option. Drummond’s decision had been expected, but this is the first time he’s publicly stated his intentions. Drummond must notify the Cavs in writing about the option by Oct. 17. The NBA’s offseason calendar has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other NBA news:
– Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley has decided to sit out the NBA’s upcoming resumption of the season in Florida. He tells ESPN that he wants to remain with his wife and three children, including a 6-year-old son with a history of respiratory illnesses. By sitting out, Bradley figures to lose a projected $650,000 in salary. He averaged 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds while starting 44 games before the season was shut down in March due to the coronavirus. The Lakers are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference heading into the 22-team restart.
Women’s soccer appeal denied
UNDATED (AP) – A federal judge has denied a request by American women’s soccer players to allow an immediate appeal of his decision to throw out their claim of unequal pay against the U.S. Soccer Federation. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles has scheduled a trial for Sept. 15 on the players’ remaining claim of discriminatory work conditions. Lawyers for the women had asked him to enter a final judgment on his decision to dismiss the pay claim, which would have allowed them to take the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
NASCAR-WALLACE GARAGE- NOOSE
Rope found hanging in Wallace’s garage was called coincidence
undated (AP) – The rope found hanging in Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway was not a hate crime. Federal authorities said the rope had been hanging at the Alabama track since at least October. Video evidence showed it had been hanging from the garage door but was the only one fashioned as a noose. Wallace coincidentally was assigned that garage. NASCAR stood by its decision to investigate the discovery found in the stall of its only Black driver. Wallace successfully called for a ban of the Confederate flag and has become an activist for the sport during a push for racial equality.
Novak Djokovic tests positive for coronavirus
UNDATED (AP) – Novak Djokovic (NOH’-vak JOH’-kuh-vich) 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.
Djokovic and other players were seen hugging each other and partying in night clubs and restaurants.
In other virus-related sports developments:
– A person with knowledge of the situation says All-Star forward Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has tested positive for the coronavirus and is quarantining in his native Serbia. Jokic is expected to be back in Denver long before the team leaves for the Disney complex for the restart of the NBA season next month.
– The Philadelphia Phillies say two more players and two additional staff numbers have tested positive for COVID-19. That raises the number of total members in the organization who have the virus to 12. The Phillies say all other tests within the organization have come back negative. One of the two players tested positive outside the team complex in Clearwater, Florida. The Phillies shut their spring complex after five players tested positive on Friday for COVID-19. Philadelphia became the first big league team known to be struck by the outbreak. Three staff members at the camp also tested positive. The Phillies didn’t identify any of those affected.
– Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says two unidentified players have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered. Tomlin says the players tested positive at some point earlier this year. Both players went through what Tomlin called “the appropriate protocol” and have since returned to work. Neither player visited the team facility at any point during the offseason. The Steelers, like the rest of the NFL, have been meeting and training remotely rather than in person since mid-March.
– Pittsburgh is out of the running to be one of the two hubs for the NHL when the league resumes its season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Penguins submitted what the club called an “aggressive” bid to be a hub city and was among the 10 finalists announced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse says simply being a finalist reflected the city’s support of the team and the NHL. Seven of the finalists were in the United States.
– Ontario’s chief medical officer says Major League Baseball hasn’t submitted a plan to local health authorities that is needed for the Blue Jays to play in Toronto amid the pandemic. Dr. David Williams says he has read a Major League Baseball proposal but it doesn’t mention anything about travel to Canada. He says baseball will have to provide a plan. Anyone entering Canada for non-essential reasons must quarantine for 14 days and the U.S. Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel until at least July 21.
– U.S. national team players Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Christen Press have opted out of the National Women’s Soccer League tournament opening this weekend in Utah. Heath and Press played with Rapinoe on the champion World Cup team last summer in France. The two cited concerns about the coronavirus for their decisions not to play. The monthlong Challenge Cup opens Saturday with a nationally televised game between the Portland Thorns and the defending champion North Carolina Courage.
– Fifteen minor league baseball teams have filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract by insurance providers after being denied claims for business-interruption insurance due to the coronavirus pandemic. Major League Baseball announced Monday that it will attempt to play a 60-game regular season, but its 160 affiliated minor league clubs are unlikely to play at all until at least 2021. Minor league franchises say that even though they continue to pay yearly premiums to insurance providers for business-interruption insurance, they have been denied coverage at a time when minor league clubs have essentially no means of making money.
– Maine’s Bowdoin College and UMass Boston are canceling their fall sports schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bowdoin President Clayton Rose cited limitations on campus attendance in an announcement detailing the school’s plans for the fall semester. UMass Boston interim Chancellor Katherine Newman said in a memo that the school will focus on remote instruction in the fall with no on-ground student activities. Both schools compete in Division III. Bowdoin has 31 varsity teams. UMass Boston has 18.
– Monmouth Park will reopen for simulcast wagering and sports betting on July 2, with live horse racing returning the following day. The complex will operate at 25% capacity as part of New Jersey’s second stage of loosening of restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The racetrack has been closed to the public since March 16 because of the pandemic. The 37-day meet runs through Sept. 27, highlighted by the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 18.
– The U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame has postponed its 2020 induction ceremony to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s induction ceremony had been scheduled for Sept. 19-20 in Frisco, Texas, where the Hall of Fame is located. Members of the 2020 and 2021 classes will be inducted together in a ceremony next year. Voting for the 2020 class was completed earlier this year but not yet announced.
– This year’s karate world championships have been postponed for one year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The World Karate Federation says the championships will now take place from Nov. 16-21, 2021, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Karate was set to make its debut at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo but that event has also been postponed by a year. The karate worlds are held every two years.
– Four players on French soccer team Toulouse have tested positive for the coronavirus. The club says the testing was conducted Monday to ensure the safety of players and staff ahead of the resumption of training.
– Tiffany Hayes has become the second Atlanta Dream guard to announce plans to sit out the 2020 season. The Dream says Hayes, a 2018 all-WNBA first-team selection, has said she won’t play this season. Last week the WNBA announced plans for a 22-game season in Florida without fans in attendance.
– A second member of the Tennessee men’s basketball team has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation. Tennessee had reported Friday that one player had tested positive.
Brady continues group workouts despite NFLPA recommendation
UNDATED (AP) – Tom Brady continues to prepare for his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, working out with teammates at a private school despite a union recommendation that players not conduct any more group practices before training camp.
The six-time Super Bowl champion was joined on the field Tuesday by a group of teammates that included tight end Rob Gronkowski, quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin, center Ryan Jensen, cornerback Jamel Dean and safety Mike Edwards.
With NFL training facilities still closed to players because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brady has been leading small voluntary workouts near downtown Tampa for much of the past month.
The latest session came just three days after the Bucs confirmed an unspecified number of “individuals” tested positive for COVID-19 at the team’s training center. The same day, NFL Players Association medial director Dr. Thom Mayer, recommended all NFL players refrain from working out in group settings until training camp begins next month.
In other NFL news:
– The Las Vegas Raiders have opened their new training facility in Henderson, Nevada. About 70 team members were on hand Monday at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center, a 335,000-square-foot complex. No players are allowed yet unless they are rehabbing injuries, but coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock were in attendance.
– New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins says his criticism of Drew Brees’ opposition about kneeling during the national anthem, and Brees’ later apology, is a microcosm of what the country needs. Jenkins was among Drew Brees’ harshest critics when the Saints quarterback made his comments about kneeling earlier this month. He said the video he posted on Instagram criticizing Brees was filmed before he spoke with his teammate. Jenkins said he decided to post the video after they spoke because he thought people needed to see it.
– Martha Firestone Ford is stepping down as principal owner of the Detroit Lions. The Lions announced that Ford’s daughter, Sheila Ford Hamp, is taking over as the team’s principal owner and chairman. The 94-year-old Ford had been in charge of the Lions since 2014, when her husband, William Clay Ford, died. The 68-year-old Hamp has been one of the team’s vice chairmen during her mother’s ownership.
– Eli Manning has won the Pro Football Writers of America’s Good Guy Award for his cooperation with the media. Manning, who retired after the 2019 season, has been lauded for years for his dealings with local and national media. He’s the second member of the New York Giants to win the award, joining Tiki Barber (2006). Manning was the Giants’ starting quarterback for nearly every game in his first 15 years in the league.
Flyers F Lindblom skates with team, recovering from cancer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom skated with the team Tuesday in one of the few times he’s hit the ice since he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer.
The 23-year-old Lindblom, a native of Sweden, has been ruled out of play should the NHL season resume. Lindblom said he was down to his final chemotherapy treatments. Lindblom suffers from Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones. He had 11 goals and 18 points in 30 games this season. Lindblom has 30 goals in 134 career games over two-plus seasons with the Flyers.
GOLF-2ND PLAYER POSITIVE
Champ becomes 2nd PGA Tour player to test positive for virus
CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) – Cameron Champ is the second PGA Tour player to test positive for the coronavirus. Champ did not play last week at the RBC Heritage. That’s where Nick Watney tested positive. Champ tied for 14th at Colonial in Texas. He was tested when he arrived at the Travelers Championship, and it came back positive. Champ says he feels fine and was surprised to learn of the positive test. He now has to self-isolate for 10 days and will get as stipend from the PGA Tour to pay for the expense. He also had to withdraw from the tournament.
WEST VIRGINIA-KOENNING LEAVE
West Virginia DC Koenning on leave after player accusations
UNDATED (AP) -West Virginia has placed defensive coordinator Vic Koenning on administrative leave after a player alleged the assistant coach made a series of inappropriate comments.
West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons announced the move Tuesday after safety Kerry Martin posted the allegations on his Twitter account. Lyon says the athletic department will conduct a thorough investigation. He thanked Martin for having the courage to voice his concerns.
Coach Neal Brown says he has talked with all parties involved, including the team. He says the culture of the program will be of acceptance, respect, tolerance and positive relationships.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL-STEVENS RETIRES
Veteran Bentley U. women’s coach Barbara Stevens retires
BOSTON (AP) – Longtime Bentley University women’s basketball coach Barbara Stevens is retiring after a four-decade run that included more than 1,000 wins, the 2014 NCAA Division II national championship, and recent election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
She became the first non-Division I women’s basketball coach, and the fifth overall, to reach the 1,000-win milestone, with Bentley’s 78-66 home victory over Adelphi University on Jan. 17, 2018.
Landmarks to highlight Australia-New Zealand World Cup bid
SYDNEY (AP) – The Sydney Opera House and Auckland’s Sky Tower will be lit up simultaneously to highlight the joint bid from Australia and New Zealand in the final hours before FIFA decides on the venue for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
The lights will go on in advance of a decision from the 37-member FIFA Council on Thursday in Europe, expected about 2 a.m. local time Friday on Australia’s east coast and 4 a.m. in New Zealand.
The co-confederation bid is favored to win in a two-way contest with Colombia.