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George suffers serious leg injury in US exhibition
LAS VEGAS (AP) Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George suffered a gruesome right leg injury late in the U.S. national team's intrasquad scrimmage Friday night. George leaped to contest a fast-break layup by James Harden with 9:33 left in the fourth quarter and his leg smashed against the bottom of the backboard stanchion and crumpled. Trainers immediately ran onto the floor and after roughly 10 minutes of stoppage, George was taken out of the arena on a stretcher. With players looking visibly upset, coach Mike Krzyzewski then announced to the crowd that the scrimmage would not be finished out of respect to George and his family. "This is a first for us in USA Basketball, to have something like this take place," USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. "It's a tough situation for our entire organization, the coaches, the players. Very, very emotional. There's no way the game could have gone on under the circumstances." The White team led George's Blue team 81-71. "We got all the players together, Jerry addressed them and then I did. Very emotional setting," Krzyzewski said. "There's a brotherhood in the NBA and to me at moments like this family or brotherhood shows its heart, it shows its depth, and that's what I thought our players showed during that time." George was considered a lock to make the final 12-man roster for the World Cup of Basketball that starts later this month in Spain. "Thanks everybody for the love and support," he wrote on Twitter. "I'll be ok and be back better than ever!!! Love y'all!!" The Americans planned to reduce the 20-play pool to 14 or 15 players Saturday, but put off those plans after George's injury. "Everything's on hold right and it should be," Krzyzewski said. "It would be so inappropriate for us to talk about anything else when there's a serious injury like this." The defending champion U.S. team had already been weakened by player losses. Forwards Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard had all pulled out in recent weeks. Krzyzewski and Colangelo refused to discuss the roster after the game, saying they didn't even know when they would make roster reductions. "As an organization, we're just going to let a little bit of time go by here before we address anything like rosters, all that stuff," Colangelo said. "It seems so unimportant in the big scheme of things when you have something like this take place. It puts things in perspective." George would have been a candidate to start for the Americans alongside Kevin Durant. The two, along with Harden, spent the week playing in 1-on-1 competitions after practice, pushing one another while building chemistry leading up to Friday night's game. "It's been fun, just getting to know Paul," Durant said after practice on Thursday. "Of course I know James, but it's competing against them." Only Colangelo and Krzyzewski spoke after the exhibition. George led the Pacers to the best record in the Eastern Conference before they were eliminated by Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. "We are aware of the injury sustained by Paul George in Friday night's Team USA game in Las Vegas and we are obviously greatly concerned," Pacers President Larry Bird said in a statement. "At this time our thoughts and prayers are with Paul. We are still gathering details and will have an updated statement Saturday." The Americans have to be down to 12 players before they open the tournament on Aug. 30. They are scheduled to take the next week off before reconvening in Chicago for their next practice on Aug. 14. Players throughout the NBA posted their concerns and wishes on Twitter, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement that read: "It was difficult to watch the injury that Paul George sustained tonight while representing his country. The thoughts and prayers of all of us at the NBA are with Paul and his family." Some NBA executives have long been concerned about injuries to players during summer competitions. Pau Gasol, then playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, broke his foot while leading Spain to the 2006 world title, and Manu Ginobili injured his ankle while playing for Argentina in the 2008 Olympics. He is sitting out the World Cup while recovering from a stress fracture in his right leg. "Anything can happen anywhere, a lot of things happen," said Krzyzewski, who was coaching Duke against Louisville when the Cardinals' Kevin Ware broke his leg during the 2013 NCAA tournament. "Tonight it happened during a basketball game. We need to take care of that. It doesn't mean it'll happen again and again and again; it means that it happened right now. And we need to take care of right now appropriately and then move on." Sat, 02 Aug 2014 04:20:00 +0000
Rich get richer: Price traded to Tigers
DETROIT (AP) When David Price was finally traded, it was to an unexpected bidder. The Detroit Tigers added another Cy Young Award winner to their star-studded rotation, acquiring Price from Tampa Bay in a blockbuster deal Thursday. The Rays received left-hander Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames from the Tigers. Tampa Bay also got infielder Nick Franklin from Seattle, with Detroit outfielder Austin Jackson going to the Mariners. The AL Central-leading Tigers are trying for their fourth consecutive division title, and their starting rotation was already a strength. General manager Dave Dombrowski decided to trade for Price anyway, giving Detroit a collection of stars on the mound that could be tough to match in any postseason series. "The question that we asked ourselves is: What gives us the best chance of winning the world championship this year?" Dombrowski said. "We thought adding him to our rotation at this point would give us the best chance to do that." The deal came just hours after the Oakland Athletics got an ace of their own, Jon Lester from the Boston Red Sox Price joins Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the Detroit rotation, giving the Tigers the last three American League Cy Young winners. The Tigers are the first team with three pitchers on the staff who have all won Cy Young Awards over the previous three seasons, according to STATS. "Today it's great, it's nice, it's fine. I love to have David Price," Dombrowski said. "If we win, then I'll be very satisfied." Jackson was removed from Detroit's game against the Chicago White Sox with one out in the top of the seventh inning. As he jogged in from center field, he got a nice hand from the home fans, many of whom no doubt understood the significance of the substitution moments before the trade deadline. Price's departure became a clear possibility when the Rays fell way behind in the AL East race earlier this season. Tampa Bay has played much better over the last month and entered Thursday only 5 1/2 games behind a wild card - but the Rays decided to deal their ace anyway. "Compared to the other possibilities, it was by far the most prudent thing that we could do for the best interests of the franchise," said Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay's vice president of baseball operations. "If you look ahead to next year, it would have been really challenging to be as good as we want to be within our situation, with David taking up that meaningful of a percentage of our payroll. So everything we do is in the vein of how to be competitive in the near term and also the long term." Tweeted Rays manager Joe Maddon: "No fun losing a David Price. Hate it. But we have to do what is best for our group. Continue to move it forward and that's what we've done." Tampa Bay signed Price to a $14 million deal for this season, avoiding arbitration, but he isn't eligible for free agency until after next season. That means Detroit's rotation - which also includes Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello - should be impressive in 2015 even if Scherzer leaves via free agency this offseason. "We're trying to win this year, but we do have David Price for next year," Dombrowski said. "That's helpful." The Tigers are without a World Series championship since 1984. Last season's team lost to Boston in the AL championship series. Detroit had to give up quite a bit to get Price. Smyly actually started Thursday's game and pitched five innings. The 25-year-old left-hander is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA this season. Smyly said he found out about the trade on social media, and Dombrowski came in and told him soon thereafter. "Didn't see it coming," he said. "These guys are awesome. We have a great team, a winning team. So it's hard to say goodbye, but it's part of baseball. Happens to everybody." Jackson is hitting .273 and has been Detroit's regular center fielder throughout this run of division titles. The 23-year-old Franklin hit .294 in 75 games this season with Triple-A Tacoma. He appeared in 17 games with the Mariners, hitting .128. "It's not waving a white flag at all," Rays president Matt Silverman said. "If your team plays to the level that it can, especially considering all the head-to-head games we have within our division, we have a chance to make up the deficit and get into the playoffs. It's more difficult without David, but if the rest of the team plays up to their potential, we're going to be playing meaningful games in September." With a lineup anchored by Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler - and that remarkable rotation - Detroit has remained in first place for almost all of 2014. The Tigers tried to shore up one trouble spot - the bullpen - by trading for Joakim Soria last week. Now Detroit has emerged with Price in another bold move aimed at bringing a championship to the Motor City. "I don't know if we're going to win by any means - there's other good clubs," Dombrowski said. "But getting the opportunity to add a guy like David Price doesn't come along very often." Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:23:00 +0000
Lynch ends holdout, arrives at Seahawks camp
RENTON, Wash. (AP) Marshawn Lynch's holdout is over, ending one distraction so far for the Super Bowl champions. Lynch arrived at the Seattle Seahawks practice facility on Thursday afternoon following the team's morning practice. The team confirmed Lynch had reported for camp, ending a holdout that spanned a week. Lynch was caught by television cameras talking on his phone out near the Seahawks practice fields wearing a hooded "Beast Mode" sweatshirt and knit cap on an 85 degree day. He was later hanging out in the lobby of the facility. ESPN reported earlier Thursday that Lynch was expected to end his holdout. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after practice that he did not know if Lynch was on the verge of reporting. "Hopefully he's here," quarterback Russell Wilson said after practice. "He's such a good football player we would love to have him here and he's done a tremendous job for us since I've been here. I know that. He's had some unbelievable runs for us." Lynch must still pass his physical and be added to the active roster. Seattle's roster is currently at the 90-man limit. Lynch missed the first week of training camp unhappy with his contract status. Lynch is scheduled to make up to $5.5 million this season in base pay and roster bonuses. It's the third year of a four-year deal Lynch signed before the 2012 season. Seattle made clear on the first day of training camp that it had a plan in place before Lynch signed his extension and it was not inclined to stray from those plans. "We've had a substantial plan working for us for years now and Marshawn was a big part of this plan," Carroll said on the opening day of camp. "Just a couple of years back we made a big statement and made a big effort for him and we wish that he was with us now." The dispute was building throughout the offseason with Lynch staying away from organized team activities and rumors that he would skip June's mandatory minicamp in protest of his contract structure. Lynch showed up for the minicamp in June to avoid a hefty fine. But he finally decided to make a stand with the start of training camp. He could be fined by the team $30,000 per day for each day of camp missed, plus a percentage of his prorated signing bonus. Lynch has been the workhorse for Seattle's offense since his arrival via trade during the 2010 season. Lynch has 1,066 carries for 4,624 yards and 41 touchdowns in the regular season since joining the Seahawks. With Lynch away, the Seahawks have let Robert Turbin and Christine Michael get the bulk of carries during camp. That was already going to be the case during the preseason with Seattle wanting to keep Lynch healthy for the regular season opener against Green Bay. Both Turbin and Michael have been impressive thus far with Lynch gone. "The more guys that we have the better," Wilson said. "To have a guy like Marshawn Lynch ... is a good thing. We definitely want him on our team for sure." NOTES: The United States Marine Corps conducted a demonstration after practice on Thursday that featured helicopters flying over the facility and dropping Marines into Lake Washington before coming ashore on the practice field next to the water. There was large contingent of military from all branches in attendance at Thursday's practice. ... Carroll said DT Jesse Williams has a "significant" knee injury suffered in practice on Wednesday and may require surgery. ... Seattle placed TE Anthony McCoy (Achilles) on injured reserve and signed WR Ronald Johnson. ... Rookie DE Cassius Marsh sat out Thursday practice with a sore groin muscle. Carroll said they believe it's minor, but don't want it to get any worse. --- Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Fri, 01 Aug 2014 03:54:00 +0000
A's get Lester, Gomes from Red Sox for Cespedes
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Billy Beane considers Jon Lester a proven ace who can carry a pitching staff through the playoffs, just like he did last fall. The general manager acquired Lester to make sure Oakland gets there first. The baseball-leading, small-budget A's won the mighty Lester sweepstakes Thursday, acquiring the left-hander and outfielder Jonny Gomes from the Boston Red Sox for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. "Once again players like this really don't come along too often," Beane said. "When you get a guy who's a legitimate No. 1 starter in the middle of the season and we currently sit in first place, we're excited. ... There's no looking ahead. The way the playoff system is now, you want to win the division." Oakland, with the best record in baseball at 66-41, also received cash from Boston in another blockbuster deal by Beane. The Red Sox also receive a draft pick. "I believe that the deliberations leading to the two trades we did today were deeply analyzed, thoughtful and value-added," A's owner Lew Wolff said in an email. "The best trades are when all parties have potential benefits, and what Billy accomplished is an example of such a win-win. The calls I have received from other owners were very complimentary." Lester is 10-7 with a career-best 2.52 ERA in 21 starts in another outstanding season. He has allowed seven earned runs in his last eight games with 54 strikeouts and nine walks. But the Red Sox put him on the trading block because he can become a free agent after the season - and Beane isn't ready to commit to re-signing the lefty. Lester, 30, was sought by many teams, including Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The three-time All-Star originally was scheduled to start Wednesday night for the slumping Red Sox, who instead scratched Lester ahead of Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline. After winning their third World Series in 10 seasons last year, with Lester getting two of the four wins with a 0.59 ERA against St. Louis, the Red Sox are last in the AL East with a 48-60 record. They had Thursday off after losing for the eighth time in nine games to drop 13 games behind first-place Baltimore. While the Red Sox look to next season, the A's are determined to take the next step after losing in each of the past two Octobers in five-game division series to Detroit. Oakland was off Thursday before returning home to begin a weekend series with Kansas City on Friday night. Lester is scheduled to start Saturday's game against the Royals. "Well I am awake," Friday starter Sonny Gray posted on Twitter when the trade news broke early Thursday. Oakland later sent lefty Tommy Milone to the Twins for outfielder Sam Fuld, who will help fill a void in center field with Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry sidelined. Beane believes in starting pitching depth, and the A's sure have it. Lester joins Gray (12-3), Scott Kazmir (12-3) and recently acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, obtained in a July 4 trade with the Chicago Cubs. Gomes, a fan favorite who grew up in nearby Petaluma, provides a veteran presence who was invaluable during the A's run to the AL West title in 2012. He also was a respected clubhouse leader in Boston, which signed him as a free agent before last season. He is hitting .234 with six homers and 32 RBIs in 78 games. For Boston, this marks another big move of a starting pitcher to the Bay Area after Jake Peavy was traded to San Francisco on Saturday for two pitching prospects. The Red Sox traded John Lackey to St. Louis later Thursday. The 28-year-old Cespedes won the past two Home Run Derby titles at the All-Star game. The Cuban left fielder is in the third season of a $36 million, four-year contract he signed before spring training 2012. Cespedes is batting .256 with 17 homers and 67 RBIs. "He's a tremendous talent, we've had a tremendous amount of success since he's been here," Beane said. "It is difficult. But if you're going to separate yourself from everybody else and try to get a player like Lester, you have to do something that's unique." Speculation had centered on the Red Sox seeking prospects to add to their already deep farm system. That would have given them more young players to use in another deal for an established player, possibly a power-hitting outfielder. They got that in Cespedes, whose 17 homers is the exact number hit this season by the nine Red Sox players who spent time in the outfield. And Gomes' six were the most. Lester has said leaving the Red Sox doesn't rule out a return to the team next season. He had said he would take a hometown discount to stay in Boston, but the team's four-year, $70 million offer in spring training fell far short of what he could get on the open market. Lester leaves his only pro baseball organization. The Red Sox drafted him in the second round in 2002. He made his major league debut June 10, 2006, and got a no-decision in a 7-4 loss to Texas. In his nine major league seasons, Lester is 110-63 with a 3.64 ERA. He's also a proven postseason star with a 3-0 record in his two World Series. He pitched 5 2-3 shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies in the clinching fourth game in 2007. "In Lester's case, we're also dealing with a guy who's one of the best at his position in the game," Beane said, "and has been for a long time. It was just too good an opportunity to pass up." --- AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman in Boston contributed to this report. Fri, 01 Aug 2014 02:17:00 +0000
Lackey goes from Red Sox to Cards for Kelly, Craig
BOSTON (AP) The Boston Red Sox traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday's deadline. The deal leaves the Red Sox without their top two starters. Both teams announced the move a few hours after the struggling Red Sox said they sent their No. 1 starter, left-hander Jon Lester, to the Oakland Athletics with outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and a 2015 draft pick. The Red Sox also sent cash and minor league left-hander Cory Littrell to St. Louis. Lackey is 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA in the fourth year of a five-year, $82.5 million deal. Kelly is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in seven starts. He has made four starts since being activated from the disabled list on July 11. Craig is batting .237 with seven homers and 44 RBIs. Lackey has had two strong seasons since being sidelined for all of 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He was 10-13 with a 3.52 ERA last year when he pitched his second World Series-clinching game, allowing one run in 6 2-3 innings in a 6-1 win over the Cardinals in Game 6. In 2002, he won Game 7 for the Anaheim Angels over the San Francisco Giants, a 4-1 victory in which he gave up one run in five innings. The Cardinals, in a tight race with the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central, had obtained right-hander Justin Masterson from the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. "I felt good about our club before we did these deals," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "When you look at adding a top of the rotation starter with Lackey, getting somebody like Masterson, who has a history of eating innings, when you look at our rotation prior to this deal, sometimes our third, fourth and fifth starters were having trouble going deep in games, putting a lot of pressure on our bullpen. "I think this will help alleviate some of that." Kelly joins a Red Sox rotation with a much different look than the one that began the season. Lester, Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront all are gone. Peavy was traded to the San Francisco Giants last Saturday and Doubront was sent to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. Only Clay Buchholz, an inconsistent right-hander, remains from the original group. The 26-year-old Kelly was 5-7 with a 3.53 ERA as a rookie in 2012 and 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA last season. He's "not a finished product but really talented," Boston general manager Ben Cherington said, "someone our scouts have liked for a long time." He said Kelly would immediately go into the rotation. Craig brings more power to a weak-hitting outfield that was bolstered by the acquisition of Cespedes. In the past two seasons, Craig totaled 35 homers and 189 RBIs, hitting .307 in 2012 and .315 in 2013. The 30-year-old Craig has been in a season-long slump after batting a major league-best .454 with runners in scoring position in 2013. He's gotten days off to help emerge from his slide with little success. He hasn't been the same since missing the last month of regular season with a left mid-foot strain but came back for the World Series, playing some designated hitter and first base. Kelly and Craig both were hurt running to first, Craig when he landed awkwardly rounding the base and Kelly injuring his hamstring sprinting to beat out a bunt. "When you think about the success this organization has had over the last three years, Joe Kelly and Allen Craig have been a major part of that," Mozeliak said. "Pulling away from that is never easy." While the Cardinals make their playoff push, the Red Sox are in last place in the AL East and looking ahead to next season. With the departure of four veteran starters, several of their top prospects should get a long look the rest of the season. --- AP Sports Writers R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis and Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report. Fri, 01 Aug 2014 01:12:00 +0000
Stern sees Sterling saga ending well, lauds Silver
NEW YORK -- Former Commissioner David Stern praised the NBA's handling of the Donald Sterling controversy and predicts it will "end well" for the league. Stern said his successor, Adam Silver, has been "forceful" but also "demonstrated a compassionate side" in his reaction to the racist remarks that were made by the Los Angeles Clippers owner. "He's done great. He has been forceful, he has been reflective, he has been buttoned-down and I think he has also demonstrated a compassionate side as well," Stern told The Associated Press on Wednesday during a phone interview. "So I think it's going to end well." Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million and banned him for life after the recorded comments became public. Sterling's wife, Shelly, later agreed to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion, a transaction the league believes will close shortly even as Donald Sterling continues trying to fight in court. Stern retired after 30 years as commissioner in February. He will be enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame next week. During his tenure, Shelly and Donald Sterling faced allegations that they discriminated against tenants based on race in Los Angeles according to a lawsuit filed by U.S. Department of Justice in 2006. The Sterlings, who at the time owned and managed about 119 apartment buildings or 5,000 apartments throughout Los Angeles County, agreed to settle the suit for $2.725 million. Stern has remained an adviser to the league and remained in frequent contact with Silver, who worked under him since 1992. Silver was the commissioner for less than three months when TMZ released audio of Sterling's remarks. Silver handed out his punishment days later and has navigated the league as it tries to oust Sterling, who owned the Clippers franchise even before Stern became commissioner. "Adam has been a part of the fabric of every important decision and event for the last 22 years," Stern said. "He knows exactly what to do, he's done mostly everything, and he's continuing his run as being a terrific manager." Sterling still has lawsuits against Silver and the league, though his best attempt to block the sale may have slipped away when a Los Angeles judge ruled Monday that Shelly Sterling had the authority to sell the team. That's a relief to players, some of whom have said they wouldn't want to play if Sterling is still in the league. New Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said the response to Sterling would likely be on the list of things she would discuss with the players, whose president, Chris Paul, plays for the Clippers. Interim CEO Dick Parsons testified that coach Doc Rivers said he would not return if Sterling did. "Coach Rivers and Chris Paul and those guys made their statement in what they would do if he was back as an owner. It's very tough to play for someone like that, that came out with a statement," said Washington Wizards guard John Wall, who is trying to make the U.S. national team. --- AP freelance writer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report. --- Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:47:00 +0000
Riley speaks out, insists Heat will be competitive
MIAMI (AP) One of the last things Miami Heat President Pat Riley told LeBron James before free agency began this summer was that he would be selling potential players on the notion of playing alongside a four-time NBA MVP. And James never made him think otherwise, Riley said - until roughly the same moment that the entire world was made aware of his plan to go home. Riley made that revelation Wednesday, shortly after the Heat completed the signing of Chris Bosh to a $118 million, five-year contract and essentially wrapped up their roster-rebuilding project for next season, the first of the post-LeBron era in Miami. The Heat have 12 players locked in for next season, Bosh and Dwyane Wade foremost among them, and Riley expects the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions to compete once again this coming year. But much of his first session offering in-depth remarks about free agency revolved, predictably, about James - the MVP who got away. "I went into it with the thought and the notion that he was coming back and I was selling that to players," Riley said. "I believed that firmly so I was selling that to players. And that's the only way I went into it. I let him know that. . He never said to me, `No, don't do that."' Riley, however, noted that he did not feel misled by James during free agency. James is now back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that he left for Miami in 2010, four trips to the NBA Finals and two championships ago. The Heat scrambled quickly to move on to Plan B, locking up Bosh (whose signing was agreed to weeks ago) and Wade before long and avoiding what could have been an absolute disaster otherwise. Riley said he's become energized by the task of building a champion again. "We are up to the challenge," Riley said. "We're going to be as competitive as anybody, I think, in the Eastern Conference. I feel great, right now, today, making sure that we got Chris signed, got him under contract, and got D-Wade back and Udonis (Haslem) and the core of our foundation and we'll go from here." Before he announced his decision, James and his inner circle summoned Riley and Heat general manager Andy Elisburg to Las Vegas for a meeting. Riley and Elisburg left believing they had done well. A day later, James was meeting with Sports Illustrated, collaborating on the first-person essay that would come out and announce his decision to return to Cleveland. The Heat were told of the contents of that essay moments before it was released publicly. "I don't get hurt," Riley said. "This is business. This is all business. As soon as something happens in this business, I had to react, we had to react as an organization, and we did." Riley said Wednesday that once the Heat learned that James was leaving, it was too late to get involved in the pursuit of Carmelo Anthony, who wound up re-signing with the New York Knicks. Still, it was more than a salvage project. Wade and Bosh are both likely Hall of Fame players. The Heat wound up with some of their top free-agent targets in players like Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts, both of whom Riley raved about about. Perhaps most importantly, the Heat not only figure to be good enough to compete now, but have the flexibility financially for Riley to go out in the already-anticipated free-agent summer of 2016 and try to build what he did when he got James, Wade and Bosh to team up. And instead of blasting James - as Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert did when he left Cleveland in 2010 - the Heat have taken the high road, with managing general partner Micky Arison writing an open letter to fans this week reminding them that even without James, the franchise's goal of winning more titles hasn't changed. "We're going to try to make it another generational team," Riley said. Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:24:00 +0000
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
Packers sign GM Ted Thompson to extension
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) With four NFC North titles and a Super Bowl victory in the past decade, Ted Thompson has had quite a run as Packers general manager. Thompson sees no reason to stop now, even as retirement age nears. The team announced after practice Wednesday the signing of Thompson to a multiyear contract extension. "The more you think about it, the more you think how nuts are you that you'd walk away from something like this," Thompson said. "To get a chance to continue to do that after you put all the chips on the table, there's very little choice there. I want to be here." Terms of the deal were not announced. Thompson didn't comment on the specifics, either. "No. I'm not a very specific guy," he said when asked if could be more specific about his contract, drawing laughs from reporters. Extending coach Mike McCarthy's contract appears to be the next decision. Both the general manager and coach last signed extensions in 2011, within about a month after the Packers won the Super Bowl. "Big priority. It's been the plan the whole time," Thompson said about an extension for McCarthy. "The way the organization is set up ... it's the way it's always been done here. The general manager kind of gets put away and then you do the head coach." Thompson, 61, took over in 2005; McCarthy was hired in January 2006. "We anticipate each other's thoughts often, which might drive both of us crazy sometimes, but I think it's working well and has worked well," Thompson said. Thompson missed the NFL meetings in March for a personal matter. He appeared energized last week in addressing the annual Packers shareholders meeting. He might make a few more short trips home to go see family in his home state of Texas, though Thompson had no plans to delegate authority. He professed a continued love for scouting. Thompson doesn't have a timeline for how much longer he wants to work. "His outstanding work has been the key factor in the success that we've enjoyed in recent years," team president Mark Murphy. Thompson's deal is the second high-profile extension announced by the club in the opening week of camp, following the deal signed by top receiver Jordy Nelson on Saturday. They are among the highlights of what has been a smooth start to camp so far - though both McCarthy and Thompson bristled slightly when asked about the lack of distractions. "That's me knocking on wood because you said something like that, jinxing it," said Thompson after knocking on the podium. "You never talk about your good fortunes." Also: IN AND OUT: Starting safety Morgan Burnett sat out some of practice Wednesday with what McCarthy called a "tweaked" ankle, though the injury didn't appear serious. Burnett remained on the sideline while Micah Hyde and first-round draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix got a few looks with the first team as the safety duo in red zone drills. Linebacker-defensive end Mike Neal practiced for the first time after watching the first few days with an abdominal injury. Inside linebacker Jamari Lattimore also returned after sitting out a few days because of illness. Guard T.J. Lang (shoulder) took part in position drills. IN THE HOUSE: McCarthy singled out fourth-year cornerback Davon House's start to camp. He is part of what is looking like a deep position group in the secondary, especially with Casey Hayward at full speed from a hamstring injury that limited him last season. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are the starting corners. RED ZONE: Nelson caught a couple of touchdowns during two-minute drill practice, including one from a scrambling Aaron Rodgers around the right edge that had the pass rushing Julius Peppers yell out in frustration. "The biggest thing when you get out there in two minutes is that you're a little ahead of the game because we've been going no-huddle since Day 1, so a lot the mechanics" carry over, McCarthy said. --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL --- Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:26:00 +0000
Dolphins' credo on T-shirts after bullying scandal
DAVIE, Fla. (AP) The Miami Dolphins, rocked by a bullying scandal last season, are now wearing T-shirts bearing a credo of togetherness that was coined by the players. One by one some of the members of the offense and defense removed their shoulder pads Wednesday and changed into the new gray shirt. On the back was a list of 10 sayings bordered by the words "I am a Miami Dolphin" that encompass their approach to the upcoming season. Among the sayings that bring to mind last year's scandal involving former offensive linemen Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin is this one. "If I see something - I will say something - I commit to call it as it is." Head coach Joe Philbin applauded the gesture made by his players. "I think the best way to do things is to give them some ownership and let them feel like I'm not coming down from the mountaintop and saying this is a must and this is a mandate," Philbin said. "I thought they did a good job. I thought they gave some consideration and some thought to it and I think it's good. Probably `I'm a professional,' is one of them I like. But I think I like them all. They're all good, but that one sticks to me. It's kind of all encompassing, entails a lot. `Team first,' too. Maybe I like team first better. I'm trying to picture the T-shirt." Considering that Philbin has come up with plenty of his own rules, he joked that some of the players think he has too many and that he's "a little stiff." He had approached a group of veterans during the offseason to emphasize his desire for them to take ownership of the team. The idea for an official credo came naturally. Defensive end Cameron Wake, a three-time Pro Bowler, had showed off a T-shirt last year in the locker room that he and other members of the defense designed specifically for defensive players. That one was adorned with the words "Respect The Brotherhood" on the back surrounding a military style logo, so he was probably a good person to go to with the new shirt. Fellow defensive lineman Jared Odrick also was one of the players approached by Philbin. "I think it means a lot," Odrick, a first-round draft pick in 2010, said of the T-shirts. "I think it gives us a visualization, something that we see every day, to try to embody every day in the locker room and onto the field. It's something that helps because you're there reading on everybody's shirt. And it's words that we've actually said. It's words that have come out of our mouths." Notes: Wide receiver Mike Wallace and center Sam Brenner both were kept out of practice. Brenner was carted off the field Tuesday during practice. The two players joined Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey and free agent running back Knowshon Moreno as spectators. Pouncey is recovering from hip surgery that is expected to cost him at least the first month of the regular season and Moreno is coming off of knee surgery. --- Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:27:00 +0000
Report: Browns' Gordon hires lawyer, preps appeal
BEREA, Ohio (AP) Josh Gordon has a new, high-profile teammate to help him fight the NFL. Facing an indefinite suspension for marijuana use, Cleveland's talented wide receiver has hired attorney Maurice Suh to represent him at his appeal hearing with the league this week, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Suh, who helped Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman win an appeal for a suspension in 2012, will be with Gordon in New York on Friday, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks. ESPN first reported Suh's hiring. Gordon is facing an indefinite ban under the league's substance abuse policy. While he awaits his hearing, the Pro Bowler has been at training camp with the Browns. He has declined interview requests. Suh helped Sherman win his appeal of a substance abuse violation on the grounds of a faulty test. According to the person who spoke to the AP, Gordon will contend failed test results were caused by secondhand marijuana smoke. Gordon's attorney also is expected to point out that Gordon only tested positive once despite being tested over 70 times, and even then two samples taken did not match. ESPN and profootballtalk.com were first to report Gordon's plans to clear his name. Gordon, who failed at least three drug tests in college for marijuana, was suspended for two games last season for what he claimed was for a prescribed cough medicine. Despite the suspension, he still led the league in yards receiving and broke several team records. The 23-year-old reportedly checked into rehab following a recent DWI arrest in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Browns are eager to find out if they will have Gordon at all this season. Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron said the uncertainty has weighed on Gordon as he waits to learn his fate. "He's trying to be positive," Cameron said after Monday's practice. "It's one of those things, he doesn't know. It's up in the air right now. It's hard for him to have a say either way, so he's just grinding. He's out here every day and he's working hard and that's all you can ask of him." If Gordon loses his appeal, he'll have to wait one year to apply to Commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement. Gordon could be helped by the public outcry over the league's handling of Baltimore running back Ray Rice's case. Rice was suspended two games by Goodell for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Rice was arrested following a Feb. 15 altercation in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in which he allegedly struck then-fiancee Janay Palmer. Wed, 30 Jul 2014 00:10:00 +0000
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