Update on the latest sports
VIRUS OUTBREAK-MLB-BLUE JAYS
Canadian health official suggests longer Blue Jays homestand
TORONTO (AP) – A top Canadian government health official says a longer stretch of home games might help the Blue Jays to get approval to play in Toronto amid the pandemic.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo says back and forth travel from the U.S. where cases are surging is a major issue that could prevent the government from approving MLB to play in Canada.
MLB requires an exemption to a requirement that anyone entering Canada for nonessential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days. The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential travel.
The Blue Jays’ home opener is scheduled for July 29 against Washington.
In other MLB news:
– About 10 Major League Baseball umpires have opted out this season, choosing not to work games in the shortened schedule because of concerns over the coronavirus. There are 76 full-time MLB umpires and more than 20 of them are age 55 or over. Joe West and Gerry Davis are the oldest umps at 67. Umpires who are deemed at risk – either for their age, health situation or other issues – and opt out will continue to get paid. Umps get their salaries over 12 months and have already been paid through April.
– Several people familiar with the conversations tell The Associated Press that the baseball players’ association has discussed hiring noted sports lawyer Jeffrey Kessler to litigate a contemplated grievance against clubs. The grievance would accuse Commissioner Rob Manfred and management of failing to act in good faith to complete the longest season economically feasible. A grievance has not yet been filed and an agreement with Kessler has not been finalized.
– Minnesota Twins center fielder Byron Buxton has a sprained left foot but no structural damage. Further testing revealed the diagnosis Tuesday, a day after his injury in an intrasquad game at Target Field. The Twins said Buxton would be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. He got hurt tracking a fly ball and lost his balance.
-Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is unsure whether he will be able to take his first turn through the rotation as he recovers from a line drive off his head. Tanaka was hit on the right side near the temple by Giancarlo Stanton’s shot during batting practice on July 4. While the 31-year-old right-hander says he has no concussion symptoms, he has not thrown off a mound since.
-A person with knowledge of the deal says the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig (yah-SEEL’ pweeg). The agreement helps the NL East champions address a depth problem in their outfield. Nick Markakis recently opted out over concerns about the coronavirus. The 29-year-old Puig hit a combined .267 with 24 homers and 84 RBIs for Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2019. He also stole 19 bases.
– Anthony Rizzo’s back trouble flared up again after he took batting practice over the weekend, and the Chicago Cubs are sending the slugger for tests. Rizzo has been dealing with back tightness during summer camp, a recurring problem throughout his career. The first baseman took live BP on Sunday before the issue surfaced again. Manager David Ross says Rizzo remains day to day.
– Jake Burger is going to play in a local league this summer in his hometown of St. Louis after the Chicago White Sox approved the plan for their first-round pick in the 2017 amateur draft. It’s a chance for the third baseman to get back on the field after he tore his left Achilles tendon twice, sidelining him for each of the previous two seasons.
-Texas Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos could miss the start of the season because of an injured right ankle sustained in an intrasquad game. Manager Chris Woodward said Chirinos was probably better than anticipated Tuesday, a day after getting hurt. But it’s still unclear if he will be ready for the season opener July 24 against Colorado.
– Fans wanting to see their faces at Dodger Stadium this season can buy cutouts. The team says net proceeds from the sale will benefit the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. Cutouts in the Dugout Club or new Pavilion Home Run Seats cost $299. Field and loge cutout locations cost $149. The cutouts are 18 inches wide and 30 inches high. The images are subject to team approval.
Kings’ Barnes isn’t at NBA restart, says he has coronavirus
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings became the latest NBA player to reveal that he has coronavirus, making the announcement Tuesday and saying he has hopes to join his team at the league’s restart later this summer. Barnes is the only player who has started all 64 of the Kings’ games this season. To extend that streak, he’ll need to be cleared and arrive at Walt Disney World before Sacramento’s season resumes with the first of its eight seeding games on July 31 against San Antonio.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE
Southeastern Conference postpones start of some sports
UNDATED (AP) – The Southeastern Conference is postponing the start of volleyball, soccer and cross country competition through at least the end of August because of COVID-19.
The league says that provides more time to prepare for a safe return to competition on an adjusted timeline. The decision includes all exhibition and non-conference games.
Each school will be responsible for any rescheduling of non-conference contests impacted by the postponement.
The league hasn’t made any announcement on the football season. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have opted to only play conference games.
Patriots hope to play before some fans
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – The New England Patriots have joined a growing list of NFL teams who hope to play home games this season in front of a significantly reduced number of fans to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The team announced Tuesday that it plans to play in front of about 20% of Gillette Stadium’s capacity, if approved by state and local officials. The stadium’s capacity is just under 66,000. The Patriots also informed season ticket holders that if fans are allowed at the stadium, they will be asked to adhere to physical distancing of at least six feet. Tickets will be arranged in blocks of 10 seats or fewer, with the first eight rows of the stadium not in use. Face coverings will also be required at all times.
Chiefs have four-year extension with Jones
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed with defensive tackle Chris Jones on a four-year, $85 million contract extension that includes $60 million in guarantees. That word comes from a person familiar with the deal. The Chiefs and representatives for Jones have been working on a contract extension ever since last year, when they remained far apart on terms and the Pro Bowl selection skipped the entirety of the offseason program.
Elsewhere in the NFL:
– A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Cleveland Browns are closing in on a massive contract extension with star defensive end Myles Garrett. He was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 and is one of the NFL’s premiere edge rushers. Garrett and the Browns could have the deal completed in the next day or so. NFL Network reported the extension could be for five years and $125 million.
Islanders sign Sorokin for next season
UNDATED (AP) – The New York Islanders have signed goaltender of the future Ilya Sorokin to a contract for next season. The $2 million deal includes $1 million in salary and a $1 million bonus. A day earlier, the team signed Sorokin to an entry-level deal for the remainder of this season even though he’s not eligible to play. The 24-year-old Sorokin is considered one of the top prospects at any position not current in the NHL.
In NHL news:
– Right wing Troy Terry has agreed to a three-year, $4.35 million contract extension through the 2022-23 season with the Anaheim Ducks. Terry has eight goals and 20 assists in 81 career games with the Ducks. They drafted him in the fifth round in 2015. He scored 15 points in 47 games this season.
-The Minnesota Wild similarly signed fellow Russian Kirill Kaprizov to a two-year contract for this season and next. Kaprizov like Sorokin can’t compete in the resumption of the season.
– Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice because of a family emergency. Coach Jeremy Colliton said he isn’t sure when de Haan will be back. The 29-year-old de Haan is coming back from right shoulder surgery in December. He was acquired in a June 2019 trade with Carolina.
– NHL leading scorer Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award. The trophy goes to the league’s most outstanding player as voted by fellow players. None of them have won the award before.
Clergy Abuse-New Orleans Saints
News outlets seek to unseal files on Saints owner Tom Benson
UNDATED (AP) – A group of news organizations including The Associated Press are headed to court today seeking to unseal court records involving the mental competency of billionaire Tom Benson when he rewrote his will to give his third wife ownership of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans sports franchises.
The news outlets argue that interest in the 2015 case has been heightened by revelations this year that Saints executives engaged in a behind-the-scenes public relations campaign to help the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese contain the fallout from a clergy abuse crisis.
Attorneys for Benson, who died in 2018, have opposed the request.