Update on the latest sports
Felix Hernandez opts out of 2020 season
ATLANTA (AP) – Former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez has joined the list of major leaguers opting out of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 34-year-old’s decision at least temporarily ends his bid to revive his career. The news comes amid growing unease in major league clubhouses with the season less than three weeks away.
Stars Christian Yelich and Jose Altuve say they plan to play the 60-game season scheduled to start later this month. Reliever Sean Doolittle, who helped Washington win the World Series, plans to play but says that if he feels uncomfortable, he’ll opt out.
A six-time All-Star in 15 seasons with Seattle, the player known as King Felix needed a fresh start following 2019, his worst season.
The decision was made after Hernandez participated in workouts Friday and Saturday at Truist Park.
The Braves announced Saturday that four-time All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, reliever Will Smith and two more Atlanta players tested positive for COVID-19.
In other virus-related baseball developments:
– Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez says two players out of 60 tested turned up positive for the novel coronavirus. Martinez says the two players took their tests Wednesday before reporting to Nationals Park and that some are still awaiting their results. Reliever Sean Doolittle minutes earlier lamented not having his COVID-19 test results back from Friday and implored baseball to “clean this up.”
– The Chicago White Sox say two players have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation. The team said Sunday that the two unidentified players are asymptomatic, and contact tracing for both was conducted. They are being monitored by team medical staff and will receive follow-up testing in the coming days. They will be allowed to return to baseball activities after they test negative twice and pass other appropriate COVID-19 protocols.
– The Oakland Athletics’ first full-squad workout was pushed back from Sunday following the July 4 holiday given the club hadn’t received results from position player intake testing done Friday, according to general manager David Forst. Manager Bob Melvin is eager to get everybody on the field together at the Coliseum while understanding he must be flexible during this fluid time.
– Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich acknowledges he benefited from fortunate timing in his contract negotiations. The Brewers held a March 6 news conference to announce that the 2018 NL MVP had agreed to a nine-year, $215 million contract. Spring training was halted less than a week later because of the coronavirus pandemic. Yelich’s deal was finalized before the loss of revenue from Major League Baseball’s shortened season and labor unrest created at least some uncertainty about the game’s financial future. He says everybody is in a unique situation this season.
– Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is so serious about not contracting the coronavirus that he’s asked wife Daniella, a former pageant queen, to stay out of beauty salons until the season is over. Correa’s wife was Miss Texas in 2016. The pair wed in the Dominican Republic in December. Correa spoke at length after Sunday’s workout about the importance of personal responsibility among the players if they hope to get through this 60-game season. It’s scheduled to begin July 23 or July 24.
– Arizona manager Torey Lovullo says that relief pitchers Silvino Bracho and Junior Guerra have both tested positive for COVID-19. The Diamondbacks had previously revealed that three players on the 40-man roster had tested positive but Sunday was the first time any were identified. Lovullo said both players are doing well.
Tanaka back in ballpark, but on concussion protocol
NEW YORK (AP) – The Yankees had their Sunday brightened by Masahiro Tanaka, who came to the ballpark and seemed well a day after being hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive.
They’re hoping Yankee Stadium’s lights will do the same this week. The Yankees are planning to hold intrasquad night games Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx as they prepare for the July 23 start of a 60-game regular season condensed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tanaka is in concussion protocol after a CT scan came back negative. Manager Aaron Boone says it looks like the Japanese right-hander “dodged a bullet.”
In other news from baseball’s summer training:
– Cleveland Indians’ Manager Terry Francona believes it’s time for the team to change their nickname. Francona says the Indians should “move forward” and consider a new name. The American League team has been called the Indians since 1915. On Friday, the team released a statement saying it was committed to determine a “best path forward with regard to our team name.” The move came hours after the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced plans to review their contentious logo and nickname. Last year, the Indians removed the much-criticized Chief Wahoo logo from their game worn caps and jerseys.
– Left-hander Andrew Heaney is expected to make his first opening day start for the Los Angeles Angels. Manager Joe Maddon confirmed his selection before the Angels’ third workout of summer camp. Los Angeles is expected to open the season July 24. The 29-year-old Heaney will be the Angels’ fourth different opening day starter in four years. He went 4-6 last season with a 4.91 ERA and 118 strikeouts while missing time with injuries to his left elbow and shoulder.
– The San Francisco Giants expect Pablo Sandoval to be in baseball shape and ready to contribute when games begin later this month. Sandoval’s larger size and round middle have ignited the internet and brought out the body critics as baseball begins again. Manager Gabe Kapler expressed empathy for the scrutiny Sandoval faces over his fluctuating weight and is confident the 2012 World Series MVP can make an impact as both an infielder, switch-hitting slugger off the bench or as designated hitter.
NHL, NHLPA agree on protocols to resume season
UNDATED (AP) – Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have agreed on protocols to resume the season but are still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement extension. The league’s board of governors and players’ executive committee and full membership must approve it for it to happen.
If ratified, the agreement will end a pandemic-forced shutdown for 31 teams across North America that began in mid-March.
Games would resume in late July or early August with 24 teams taking part in expanded playoffs, finishing with the Stanley Cup being awarded in October.
Bucks shut training facility
UNDATED (AP) – The Milwaukee Bucks have closed their practice facility following the team’s Friday round of testing for the coronavirus. Bucks officials confirmed Sunday that they had closed the facility and that they aren’t planning to reopen it before leaving for Florida on Thursday to prepare for the NBA’s resumption of the season at Walt Disney World.
GOLF-ROCKET MORTGAGE CLASSIC
DeChambeau takes the Classic
DETROIT (AP) – Bryson DeChambeau got the result he was looking for from transforming his body. With jaw-dropping drives and some clutch putts, DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic by three strokes Sunday for his first victory of the season and sixth overall.
DeChambeau shot a 7-under 65 at Detroit Golf Club to finish at a career-best 23-under 265. DeChambeau came into the week with six straight top-eight finishes and was the only player with top 10s in the first three events after the restart from the coronavirus.
He won for the first time since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November 2018. Matthew Wolff was second.
Harvick takes advantage of Hamlin’s crash to win Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Kevin Harvick took advantage of Denny Hamlin’s late crash and wound up winning his third Brickyard 400 title. The Cup points leader beat Matt Kenseth across the yard of brick by 0.743 seconds to win his fourth race of the season.
Harvick won for the 53rd time to move within one of tying Lee Petty for 11th on NASCAR’s career list, and it gave Stewart-Haas Racing a sweep of the weekend following Chase Briscoe’s win Saturday in the Xfinity Series race.
For the third straight race, Harvick and Hamlin were in a league of their own.
Until the stunning twist as the sun was setting over the historic 2.5-mile oval, it looked is if Harvick and Hamlin would sweep the top two spots for the third consecutive race.
Harvick beat Kenseth off the final restart with two laps to go and pulled away for the victory.
NASCAR-CREW MEMBER INJURED
Blaney crew member taken to hospital for further evaluation
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – A tire changer for NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney was taken to a hospital after being injured Sunday early in the Brickyard 400. Zachary Price was pinned between Blaney’s No. 12 car and another car, the result of a six-car pileup near the entrance of pit road 16 laps into the race.
Five of the drivers were checked at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s infield medical center and were released.
Blaney, meanwhile, returned to the race.
NASCAR said Price had been transported to a hospital for further evaluation.
Bottas wins F1’s season-opening Austrian GP, Hamilton 4th
SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) – Valtteri Bottas has won a chaotic season-opening Austrian Grand Prix which saw Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton finish fourth after getting a late time penalty.
Hamilton’s penalty saw him drop from second to fourth on Sunday. That meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari and Lando Norris was third.
The race was interrupted three times by a safety car and nine of 20 drivers abandoned. The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon both went out the race.
F1 DRIVERS AGAINST RACISM
F1 Drivers all wear “End Racism” T-shirts, but 6 don’t kneel
SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) – Valtteri Bottas kneeled holding the winners’ trophy at Formula One’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday and the podium trio held up a black T-shirt with “End Racism” written on it.
That message was delivered before the race when all drivers wore that T-shirt. World champion Lewis Hamilton, the only black driver in F1, had Black Lives Matter on the front and End Racism on the back.
But six drivers did not join Hamilton and 13 others in taking the knee. One of the six, Charles Leclerc, later tweeted that behavior in everyday life matters more than “formal gestures that could be seen as controversial in some countries.” He said his failure to take a knee doesn’t mean he’s “less committed than others in the fight against racism.”
Hamilton has spoken widely about racism in recent weeks following the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd in May.
British diver Blagg retires at 23 because of shoulder injury
LONDON (AP) – British diver Alicia Blagg says she is retiring from the sport because of a shoulder injury that has ended her chances of competing in a third Olympics at next year’s Tokyo Games.
The 23-year-old has won medals at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships but says “injury after injury” have taken a toll.
Blagg had shoulder surgery in May 2019 to repair a torn labrum. She previously had two wrist surgeries.
Blagg competed at the London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics. She hoped to recover from the shoulder surgery and qualify for the Toyko Games.
SKorean officials vow to look into triathlete’s abuse claims
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Top South Korean officials have offered a public apology and vowed to delve into the death of a triathlete who had repeatedly told government and sports bodies she had been abused by her team coach and others.
Sports Minister Park Yang-woo told lawmakers he “feels heavy responsibility” for Choi Suk-hyeon’s death and apologized to her bereaved family and the South Korean public.
A team of investigators was formed to look into why authorities didn’t properly respond to the athlete’s petitions about the alleged abuse.
Two former teammates said they had been abused as well. The team coach denied the accusations.