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Indians trade Justin Masterson to Cardinals

CLEVELAND (AP) The Indians had little choice but to give up Justin Masterson. The trade doesn't mean they're going to surrender the season.

"We will never raise the white flag," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "That's not an option. Anybody who stands next to me in the dugout knows that will never happen."

Protecting themselves in case the 29-year-old Masterson left as a free agent after the season, the Indians traded the right-hander on Wednesday to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The trade of Masterson could be followed by other moves by the Indians, who entered Wednesday 6 1-2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central and in a scramble with five other teams for the league's second wild-card spot.

The Indians could also trade shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera before the deadline. Like Masterson, Cabrera is in the final year of his contract and the Indians have shown little interest in re-signing him. Dealing the two-time All-Star could bring a prospect in return.

General manager Chris Antonetti said he's exploring deals to improve the team before Thursday's 4 p.m. trade deadline.

"Our focus is to continue to try to win as many games as we can," he said. "We're currently in the midst of having conversations to bring players in to impact our team at the major league level. Whether or not that happens over the next 24 hours, there are a lot of factors in play and it's hard to handicap that."

Masterson began the season as the Indians' ace. He'll end it with a different team in a different league after a disappointing four months.

"I was surprised," Masterson said. "It's bittersweet. I'm sad to leave the fellas and the fight we're making here in Cleveland, but I'm excited to get to St. Louis and be a part of what they have going there."

In exchange for Masterson, who was scheduled to come off the disabled list later this week, the Indians got outfielder James Ramsey. A first-round pick by the Cardinals (No. 23 overall) in 2012, Ramsey has spent this season at Double-A Springfield, where he batted .300 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs.

Antonetti said Ramsey will be moved up to Triple-A Columbus.

Masterson went 14-10 last season and then turned down an offer of a contract extension in spring training.

"It's an extraordinarily difficult day for us," Antonetti said. "It wasn't an easy decision, but it's one that made sense."

Masterson is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts this season and has had a noticeable loss in velocity. In five starts before being placed on the DL with right knee inflammation, he allowed 19 runs and 27 hits in 18 innings.

Masterson, who hasn't won since June 8, said the impending free agency didn't affect his performance.

"I guess I could try and blame that, but that would be a lie," he said.

The Cardinals are in the race for the NL Central crown, a season after going to the World Series.

"I'm excited," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said before the Cardinals played the Padres in San Diego. "I've watched this guy. Yes, the numbers don't quite look the same as what they looked last year, but we're talking a year ago. Still, good movement, he's able to attack the strike zone. We can see there's a lot of potential here to help us out."

Masterson will join the Cardinals on Friday in St. Louis and is scheduled to start against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

"Let's go. There's no sense waiting around," Matheny said.

Masterson was acquired by the Indians at the trading deadline in 2009 in the deal that sent catcher Victor Martinez to Boston. Before Tuesday's series opener against Seattle, Masterson said he wouldn't be surprised if the Indians made any moves before the trade deadline Thursday.

Masterson had said he was hoping to stay and help them make a playoff push.

Francona was Boston's manager when Masterson was dealt to Cleveland. Masterson went 48-61 with Cleveland.

"The hug was a little longer than normal," Francona said. "We may part teams, but my admiration for him isn't parting."

Joked Masterson: "Tito keeps trading me away. What's up with that?"

---

AP freelance writer Steve Herrick contributed to this report.

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 02:17:00 +0000
Jeter gets presidential farewell in Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Derek Jeter got a surprise presidential farewell before playing his final game in Texas, when former President George W. Bush took part in a pregame ceremony Wednesday night.

Retired Rangers All-Stars Michael Young and Ivan Rodriguez first presented Jeter a pair of cowboy boots inscribed with the New York team logo, his name and No. 2. A video was then shown of Bush at Yankee Stadium before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series.

"I did have one good reason to leave Washington for a few hours. The New York Yankees had invited me to throw out the first pitch," Bush recalled in the video. "Seven weeks after 9/11, it would send a powerful signal for the president to show up at Yankee Stadium."

Bush, recounting the story from an excerpt in his 2010 book "Decision Points," then spoke about going into an indoor batting cage to loosen his arm.

"After a few warm-up pitches, the great Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter dropped in to take some swings. We talked a little," Bush said, adding that Jeter told him to throw from the mound, "Or else they'll boo you. ... But don't bounce it. They'll boo you."

When the video ended, showing Bush throwing a strike, the former president came on the field. He gave a surprised Jeter a framed signed picture of the two together in the batting cage that night nearly 13 years ago. The photo was from the archives of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in nearby Dallas.

Rodriguez played against Jeter and was his teammate at the end of the 2008 season with the Yankees. Young, like Jeter, was also an All-Star shortstop.

"Obviously from a competitive standpoint, the guy's off the charts, a Hall of Fame player," Young said. "He stayed his entire career in one place, a very demanding place, and was basically an impact player from the day he stepped on the field."

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:10:00 +0000
Greg Ives to crew chief Earnhardt in 2015

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) There was no shortage of candidates to replace Steve Letarte as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief

The list of applicants was long, but Hendrick Motorsports has always liked to groom its own talent. So the organization didn't have to look very far for the next leader of the No. 88 Chevrolet.

Greg Ives, who was shipped over to Earnhardt's Nationwide Series team at the end of 2012 to gain his first experience as crew chief, was chosen Wednesday as Letarte's replacement with NASCAR's most popular driver. Letarte will move to an analyst role with NBC Sports and Ives will move from JR Motorsports to crew chief for Earnhardt.

"Not only is he the most talented candidate for the job, but it will be the most seamless transition," Earnhardt said Wednesday. "I don't see how it couldn't go any smoother, being that he has that past history and understanding of the building.

"When Greg comes into that position, the boat won't rock. Everybody already knows Greg, is comfortable with him."

Ives was race engineer for Jimmie Johnson's record run of five consecutive championships, and worked under Johnson crew chief Chad Knaus and alongside Earnhardt's No. 88 team. When he told Hendrick management he wanted to be a crew chief, there were no openings in the organization. Ives was instead moved to JRM, which is co-owned by both Hendrick and Earnhardt.

The move helped Ives strengthen his rapport with Earnhardt, even though the two had been trash-talking each other for some time in their Fantasy Football league. Ives has been successful at JRM, winning two races last year with Regan Smith, and guiding rookie Chase Elliott to three wins and the top of the Nationwide Series points standings this season.

He'd paid his dues and earned the right to return to HMS with a Sprint Cup team.

"When we looked at the attributes that we would want for that crew chief, there's two key parts: One is the relationship with Dale. The other is the relationship with Chad," Hendrick general manager Doug Duchardt said.

Said Hendrick: "Greg was our No. 1 choice. This is a talented guy who already has a terrific rapport with Dale Jr. and is a fit with the organization."

Ives worked under Knaus from 2006 through the 2012 season. Like Ives, Knaus left the Hendrick organization early in his career to get crew chief experience only to return when a prime Sprint Cup Series job opened. Johnson and Earnhardt's teams work side-by-side out of the same shop, so Ives and Knaus will collaborate for both teams and the organization.

"He and Chad had a lot of success together, and all of our crew chiefs think the world of him and what he's accomplished," Hendrick said. "Greg's proven that he can win races, and he has all the tools to do big things."

Ives, from Bark River, Michigan, joined Hendrick Motorsports as a mechanic in 2004. He moved into an engineering role on the No. 48 team in 2006. In seven years working with Knaus, he contributed to 42 wins, 113 top-five finishes and 21 pole positions in the Sprint Cup Series.

"This is an incredible opportunity for me and my family," Ives said. "Dale Jr. and I have a great relationship from being in the same shop at Hendrick Motorsports and my time at JRM.

"We have a lot left to do this season in the Nationwide Series, but I'm excited about what's ahead and look forward to sharing some wins with JR Nation in the future. I couldn't ask for a better situation than working with one of the best drivers and teams in racing."

Earnhardt and Letarte opened this year with a win in the Daytona 500, and the No. 88 team is currently ranked second in the Sprint Cup standings.

"Nobody is going to be like Steve," Earnhardt said. "Nobody is going to be like Chad. No crew chief is identical. A driver likes to hear positive reinforcement, and I'm sure Greg and I will learn how to give-and-take that. I'm sure he wants to hear it as well."

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:10:00 +0000
Scully humbled to return to Dodgers booth in '15

LOS ANGELES (AP) Vin Scully poked fun at himself after word came out that he plans to return for his record 66th season in the Los Angeles Dodgers' broadcast booth next year.

"I agree with everybody else: It's a long time to be working at one job with no advancement," he said, smiling.

The 86-year-old Hall of Fame announcer, his red hair faded by the years but still in good health, continues to be thrilled describing the action on the field.

"It really is a privilege and good fortune to have this job," he said Wednesday. "I've loved it from Day One."

Scully was reminded of his love for the game in the third inning of Tuesday night's game against Atlanta. B.J. Upton tagged up at third and charged toward home on a fly ball to center. Yasiel Puig used his cannon of an arm to throw home, with Upton scoring ahead of the tag.

"After that I sat back and thought that's the way you were the first day you started doing this game," he said. "You see this play building and it just gets to you. That play last night convinced me."

The Dodgers revealed Scully's return on Tuesday, when talking microphones featuring his dulcet tones were given away to fans. The crowd reacted with a standing ovation for Scully, who waved from his booth. The umpiring crew joined in the applause.

"It was very difficult last night, not only to stand there and hear and receive the ovation, but I still feel like I haven't done anything except show up every day at work," he said. "When I sat down, as quickly as I could, it was this overwhelming `Thank God I can get back to doing the game."'

Scully has never prepared words to say, only statistics to read on the air.

"I want it to be as honest as possible," he said. "There are a lot of times I drive home saying, `Dummy, why didn't you say what you're thinking of right now?"'

Scully's consecutive years of service make him the longest-tenured broadcaster with one team in sports history. He calls all nine innings of the team's home games and road games in California and Arizona for the Dodgers' new television home on SportsNet LA, while the first three innings of his games are simulcast on the radio.

He acknowledged that the years have slowed him in some respects.

"Maybe I was quicker in coming up with an occasional good thought more so than now," he said. "Once in a while I'll blunder into a good line."

Scully said his decision to return was not influenced by the dispute between Time Warner Cable and other cable subscribers that is keeping 70 percent of the Los Angeles television market from seeing the team's games so far this season.

Only customers of Time Warner and a couple of its partners have been able to watch, while subscribers of major providers such as DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon and AT&T have been shut out. Even Scully can't watch road games since he lives in an area not served by Time Warner.

"It's heartbreaking not to be able to share with the entire community," he said.

Scully began his professional broadcasting career in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He has called three perfect games, 25 World Series and 12 All-Star games. He was behind the microphone for Kirk Gibson's Game 1 homer in the 1988 World Series, Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, Hank Aaron's record-setting 715th home run and Sandy Koufax's four no-hitters, including a perfect game.

After wrapping up his 30-minute chat with the media, manager Don Mattingly came into the room.

"I've got to follow that act?" he joked.

Mattingly is busy during games so he doesn't hear Scully, but fans often tell him what he's missing.

"It's like the gospel," he said. "The way he paints the picture is so cool."

Scully isn't sure he'll know when it's time to retire because, as he says, "I've never had the feeling."

What he does know is that once he bids farewell, he won't hang around. And unlike many of his listeners, to whom his voice has meant summer in the city for decades, he is unsentimental about leaving.

Scully ticks off the names of famed announcers Red Barber, Mel Allen, Jack Buck and Harry Caray who left their respective teams after years on the job.

"I'm not fooling myself," he said. "The Dodgers will roll right along merrily whether I'm here or not."

Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:23:00 +0000
Arizona's Peterson relishes being highest-paid CB

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Patrick Peterson is the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.

Just ask him.

Not only did he tweet out the terms of his new contract - five years, $70 million, $48 million guaranteed - he referred to himself as the highest-paid at his position at least five times in the Arizona Cardinals news conference announcing the new deal on Wednesday - twice before he was ever asked a question.

He's long maintained he's the league's best cornerback. Now he says has higher goals - the playoffs, a Super Bowl title, the Hall of Fame.

And Peterson doesn't speak as if he's boasting, rather just a matter of the facts.

In just three years, he has become, as he put it, "a face of the organization."

"He's earned it," Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said, "and I agree - he's the best defensive corner in the league."

Peterson is the first of the 2011 draft class to sign a second contract. He had two years left on his previous deal after the Cardinals picked up his fifth-year option.

"It shows that we're a first-class organization," Peterson said. "We want to get the job done. We want to win, that's the most important thing."

By tweeting out his deal, Peterson made sure everyone knew his contract was bigger than that of Seattle's Richard Sherman. The two have carried on a Twitter rivalry for some time.

Sherman signed a four-year, $56 million contract - $40 million guaranteed - earlier this year.

Peterson rubbed it in with a tweet on Wednesday that said "You mad bro!!!" followed by five faces crying.

Sherman responded with a close-up photo of his Super Bowl championship ring and said "Can't ever be too mad."

"I don't have any beef with Richard," Peterson said at the news conference. "I'm having fun. I don't know if he's having fun, but I think it's going to make me take my game to the next level."

He noted some of Sherman's tweets are "a little salty."

"I guess it will be must-watch TV when we play Seattle," Peterson said.

It's the second-largest contract in Cardinals' history, exceeded only by the eight-year contract worth up to $120 million - with nearly $50 million guaranteed, that Larry Fitzgerald signed in 2011.

Peterson doesn't cover a particular part of the field, as Sherman does, but is assigned to the opponent's best receiver, wherever he lines up.

"Twenty-four years old, 48 straight starts," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. "In my humble opinion there isn't another corner in the league that has his size, speed, athleticism, explosiveness, ball skills.

"On top of that, Pat will probably be the first to tell you he hasn't even scratched the surface yet, which is actually scary considering the fact that he could redefine the position."

Peterson said "it's a big deal" to have the biggest contract at his position.

"I think I have done a lot in my young career to be recognized not only as the best cornerback in the league," he said, "but as the highest-paid cornerback in the league. I think my body of work is only going to get better."

Peterson said the contract won't mean an added burden.

"Honestly, I don't think my responsibilities have grown," he said, "because I've been the guy that wants to get better each and every day. I want to be the guy who leads this team. I want to be a face of this organization. I have accomplished that in my first three years. Now it's getting championships."

Peterson, who turned 24 on July 11, has made the Pro Bowl each of his three NFL seasons after Arizona selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft. He made it as a punt returner in his rookie season, and as a cornerback the past two years. He and Sherman were first-team All-Pro last season.

"He's very, very mature," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "I don't like using that role model word, but he's a perfect citizen."

Peterson has become a mentor for safety Tyrann Mathieu, who also went to LSU and had marijuana-related problems before coming to the NFL last year and excelling as a rookie before going down with a late-season knee injury.

Now, Peterson said, it's time for him to aim for more.

"I want to be in the Hall of Fame someday," he said. "I have bigger goals than a massive contract. I haven't been to the playoffs since I've been here. I had one winning season since I've been here. I want to bring a championship to this city, to this organization. I want to hoist that Lombardi Trophy."

---

Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 22:38:00 +0000

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