All posts by phnseo

Dodgers to re-sign veteran Chase Utley

Free agent Chase Utley, who has been working out at Dodger Stadium all offseason with other Dodgers, will be returning to the team, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reports.

Utley, 39, shared time at second base last year with Logan Forsythe. Offensively, Utley’s performance continued to regress, as he hit .236 with a .728 OPS in 127 regular-season games and went 0-for-15 in the postseason.

But Utley’s leadership and clubhouse impact are immeasurable, and general manager Farhan Zaidi said two weeks ago the club was open to bringing Utley back.

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Utley’s team ethic and personal investment give him leverage when necessary. He’s manager Dave Roberts’ favorite conduit to convey the subtle reminders that keep a clubhouse running smoothly through a long, stressful summer.

The 39-year-old Utley has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Dodgers after playing 12-plus years for the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 127 games last season, Utley hit .236 with eight home runs, 34 RBI and six stolen bases. He primarily appeared at second base but also played 17 contests at first base and was a designated hitter on three occasions during interleague play.

L.A. traded for Utley during the 2015 season after his long, successful Philadelphia run.

Utley has now re-signed with Los Angeles in three consecutive winters, earning a $7 million deal for 2016 and a $2 million contract a year ago.

Utley is just the second free-agent signing of the winter for the quiet Dodgers, who inked righty Tom Koehler to a $2 million deal in December. Los Angeles has also added Matt Kemp and lefty reliever Scott Alexander this winter while losing Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson (in a trade with Atlanta) and Brandon Morrow, Curtis Granderson and Yu Darvish as free agents.

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Giants to hire Mike Shula as OC

The New York Giants have reportedly tabbed Mike Shula as their new offensive coordinator, according to NFL Network’s Kimberly Jones.

Shula, 52, spent the last five seasons as the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator. He was fired in January after Carolina finished the 2017 season ranked 28th in passing and fourth in rushing.

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, who was hired in January following a stint as the Vikings offensive coordinator, angled to interview Minnesota quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski to be his right-hand man.

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Shula previously worked with the Carolina Panthers beginning in 2011, taking over the offense two years later under then-general manager David Gettleman, who took the same position with the Giants earlier this offseason. He was also the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-1999.

Since 1988, Shula has spent all but four years working in the NFL under various titles with the Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars to go with the Buccaneers and Panthers. Those four years away from the NFL were spent as the head coach of Alabama from 2003-2006.

With the Giants, Shula will not be responsible for calling the plays on the sidelines as that will be one of new head coach Pat Shurmur’s jobs. However, he will be the team’s quarterback coach as he’ll work alongside veteran Eli Manning, backup Davis Webb and possibly a top-tier rookie depending on who the Giants draft with the second-overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft.

Shula’s has long ties to the Giants general manager in Dave Gettleman; Shula was the Carolina Panthers quarterbacks coach from 2011-2012 and then spent the last five seasons as the Panthers offensive coordinator.

Aside from being a long-time assistant coach and coordinator in the NFL, Shula was the head coach at the University of Alabama from 2003-2006. He went 26-23 in four seasons before being replaced by Nick Saban.

After Alabama, Shula returned to the NFL as the quarterbacks coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2007-2010 under Jack Del Rio before being hired in Carolina in 2011.

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Cardinals agree to 1 year deal with reliever Bud Norris

The Cardinals have signed reliever Bud Norris, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, as the club continues to reshape its bullpen following an inconsistent season and losses to the back-end. The deal is just for one year, per reports, and the terms aren’t yet known.

Norris, 32, saved 19 games in 23 chances last season with a 4.21 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 74 strikeouts in 62 innings last season for the Angels. He was actually very good in the first half, pitching to a 2.23 ERA and holding opponents to a .183/.272/.275 line, but he posted a 7.01 ERA in the second half. He was hampered by a knee injury in the final two months, so that was likely part of the issue.

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Norris, who played his collegiate baseball at California Tech, was originally selected by the Houston Astros in the sixth round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur Draft. He proceeded to make his big league debut in 2009 en route to appearing in 11 games and making 10 starts. During that same span, Norris went 6-3 with a 4.53 ERA, surrendering 59 hits while fanning 54 batters across 55.2 frames. The following year, Norris became an integral part of the Astros starting rotation while starting 27 contests and going 9-10 with a 4.92 ERA.

The Cardinals ended up seventh in baseball with a 3.81 bullpen ERA last season, but consistency — notably at the back-end — was an issue for much of the season. Trevor Rosenthal worked back into the closer role and started to give them some reliability, but he tore his UCL and had to have Tommy John surgery. He’s since been released by the club. Seung-hwan Oh and Juan Nicasio also spent time closing and departed via free agency.

The 2018 Cardinals closer figures to be Luke Gregerson, who was signed as a free agent. Dominic Leone was acquired in the trade of Randal Grichuk to the Blue Jays and he will join Norris and holdover Tyler Lyons as setup men for Gregerson. Lefty Brett Cecil is also a late-inning candidate.

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Frank Reich named new Colts coach

Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich was named the next Indianapolis Colts head coach on Sunday, making him the second Eagles assistant coach to earn a new job during the weekend.

Reich, 56, has been with the Eagles during the past two seasons as Doug Pederson’s top assistant on offense. He will take the job that remained vacant when New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels backed out last week after reaching an agreement with the Colts. Reich was previously an assistant coach with the Colts from 2008-2011 and spent 13 years as an NFL quarterback.

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Although Reich did not call plays for the Eagles, he had a big role in the offense. He helped create and install the system when Pederson arrived and was a key sounding board for Pederson. The two would meet for more than an hour on the night before games and go over the play sheet.

He also helped in the decision to draft Carson Wentz and in the development of the quarterbacks on the roster as part of the quarterback-focused coaching staff that the Eagles assembled in 2016. His job included funneling information from Pederson to the position coaches and back to Pederson.

“As the role of offensive coordinator, that’s what you do: you coordinate,” Reich said last month. “You take all the great resources that you have as far as the staff and our head coach, and you pile your ideas together and then you’ve got to narrow them down and that’s what we do. And we get a lot of good input from a lot of different ways, and that’s fun. I mean, it’s fun to work with the guys we work with and have the players that run those plays.”

“We are excited to have Frank Reich as our new head coach,” General Manager Chris Ballard said in a written statement. “Frank is a leader of men who will demand excellence from our players on and off the field. I look forward to working with Frank to deliver a championship-caliber team to the city of Indianapolis.”

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Zack Wheeler wins arbitration case

Zack Wheeler may have struggled through his first post-Tommy John surgery season, but what he showed was enough to convince arbitors that he deserves $1.9 million in 2018. Wheeler won his arbitration case Thursday, being awarded a raise of $800,000 for the upcoming season.

The Mets previously offered him $1.5 million. He was the only player they failed to come to terms with this season.

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After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2015 and missing two seasons to rehab his elbow, Wheeler returned in 2017 and was expected to help anchor the rotation. But there were concerns about his elbow from the start. Wheeler showed flashes of the electric stuff that made him such an exciting prospect during his first two big league season in 2013 and 2014.

Before being shut down, Wheeler had not been able to pitch well consistently. Over his final nine starts, he pitched to a 0-5 record and a 6.70 ERA. During that stretch, opposing batters held a .978 OPS.

For the season, Wheeler posted a 5.21 ERA and a 1.587 WHIP. One good thing that Wheeler had going for him was his 8.4 K/9 ratio. He notched 81 strikeouts over 86 innings. Over his final six starts, his K/9 was 9.7 and looks as though it could have gone up.

His ability to stay healthy throughout parts of the 2018 season might even be a huge question mark as well.

The Mets do expect Wheeler to begin the season in the starting rotation, but only time will tell how healthy Wheeler really is and if he can get back on track.

Wheeler pitched to a 3.50 ERA over his first 49 starts between 2013 and 2014. Hopefully he can spend most of the season healthy and can repeat his numbers from his first few seasons. If that happens, his 2018 season will be a success and another step in the right direction for Wheeler.

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Panthers DE Julius Peppers has surgery on right shoulder

Defensive end Julius Peppers underwent surgery on his right shoulder Thursday.

The 16-year veteran posted an image to his Instagram account following the procedure, writing that “everything went smooth and I’m recovering well.”

Peppers played in every game this past season and recorded a team-high 11 sacks, moving him up to fourth place in NFL history with 154.5. He wore a brace on his right shoulder at times during the season.

Peppers, who is not under contract for 2018, has not yet revealed whether he intends to return for another season. A source told the Observer that Peppers’ surgery was a labrum repair.

Peppers, 37, returned to Charlotte in 2017 on a one-year deal and tied for the team lead in sacks with 11. Carolina coaches have stated their hope that Peppers, a future first-ballot hall of famer, will return for another year.

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At the end of the season, Peppers said that he needed to take some time to reflect before making a decision.

Peppers was added to Carolina’s injury report the day before the Panthers played New England in Week 4. He played that game with a large brace on his shoulder, and was listed as questionable the following week. He didn’t miss any games in 2017.

He also practiced on a limited basis throughout the year, as the team gave him rest days to preserve his body.

For his career Peppers, who was selected second overall in the 2002 NFL Draft by the Panthers, has 154.5 quarterback sacks. He’s currently ranked fourth in the NFL’s all-time sacks list, behind Bruce Smith (200.0), Reggie White (198.0) and Kevin Greene (160.0).

Peppers leads all active players in career sacks by a wide margin, with Suggs and Dwight Freeney next in line at 125.5 sacks apiece.

Ninety-two of Peppers’ sacks have come as a member of the Panthers, as he spent the first eight seasons of his career with the team before signing with the Chicago Bears in March 2010. Peppers spent four seasons in Chicago before making the move to Green Bay, where he played three seasons before returning to Carolina on a one-year contract last March.

In addition to being selected to play in nine Pro Bowls, Peppers is also a three-time All-Pro selection.

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Bulls trade Jameer Nelson to Pistons for Willie Reed

The Bulls made a small move about four hours before the 2 p.m. trade deadline Thursday, sending veteran guard Jameer Nelson to the Pistons in exchange for center Willie Reed, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported.

As part of the deal, the Bulls and Pistons are also swapping their second-round picks in the 2022 draft, Charania reported.

The Bulls acquired the 35-year-old Nelson in the trade of Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans last week. He didn’t project to play for the rebuilding Bulls down the stretch, as they’re looking to give playing time to youngsters. That includes the team’s desire to get a look at point guard Cameron Payne, who made his playing debut this season for the Windy City Bulls in the G League on Wednesday night.

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Reed, 27, is averaging 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10.2 minutes per game in 42 games. He was recently acquired by the Pistons as part of the deal with the Clippers in which star Blake Griffin was sent to Detroit.

The trade is a reunion. Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy coached Jameer Nelson in Orlando from 2007-12 during the Dwight Howard era. Nelson averaged a career-high 16.7 points on borderline 50-40-90 club numbers (50 percent shooting from the field, 45 percent from three, and 88.7 percent from the foul line) in the 2008-09 season as a pick-and-roll ball-handler adept at finding Howard with pinpoint lob passes.

He projects to play a similar role in Detroit, and the Pistons have a present-day Howard. Andre Drummond is an All-Star center with similar athleticism and rim-protecting prowess as Howard in his prime. The Pistons also traded for Blake Griffin and are 5-0 since acquiring him.

Nelson helps stabilize a Detroit back court that also includes Ish Smith and Langston Galloway. The Pistons will also see Reggie Jackson return from a severely sprained ankle in late February or early March.

Nelson began the season with the Pelicans but was traded to the Bulls in the deal for Nikola Mirotic. The 35-year-old guard averaged five points and 3.6 assists in 20 minutes per game in Denver and did not play a game in Chicago.

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Spurs’ Murray with sprained ankle

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday after the Spurs’ 129-81 win over the Suns that there is no timetable for Murray’s (ankle) return, Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com reports.

Murray seemed well on his way to a big night before his left leg buckled during a driving layup with five and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter. He remained in the game to shoot a pair a free throw before heading to the bench for the remainder of the evening, finishing with 14 points (7-12 FG, 0-1 FT), four rebounds, three assists and one steal in 13 minutes. Murray was later diagnosed with a sprained left ankle, but the severity of the injury might not be known until the Spurs have a chance to send him in for an MRI. At the moment, Murray is looking highly questionable — at best — for Saturday’s game against the Warriors. His absence for any length of time would open up more minutes at point guard for Tony Parker and Patty Mills.

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The team recently promoted Murray, the organization’s 2016 first round pick, to the starting lineup while moving veteran point guard Tony Parker into a backup role.

So far this season Murray has played in 56 games with 23 starts, averaging 6.9 points along with 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

San Antonio, as a club, usually is very cautious with bringing injured players back. A good example of that is star forward Kawhi Leonard who has played only nine of the Spurs’ 56 games thus far this season. At the same time, Rudy Gay continues to nurse right heel bursitis.

The team will have time to heal moving forward. After its game on Saturday versus the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio will have time off for the All-Star Game festivities.

On Saturday, in a game the Spurs lost to the Utah Jazz, Murray recorded his 500th career point. He became the first player for the Spurs since Leonard to reach 500 points or more as well as 300 or more rebounds during his first 100 games.

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Yankees get Seahawks QB Wilson in trade with Rangers

The New York Yankees have acquired Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a trade with the Texas Rangers in exchange for future considerations. Wilson is set to appear with the Yankees in Spring Training at some point in February or March.

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Wilson has no plans to double up as a two-sport athlete like Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson.

This, however, doesn’t mean the four-time Pro Bowler is hanging up his shoulder pads or even planning a Deion Sanders- or Bo Jackson-like career of pursuing both sports. The NFL remains Wilson’s top priority, but he wants to maintain his love for and ties to baseball, ESPN reported. Wilson, 29, is expected to appear in some Yankees Grapefruit League games in Tampa, Florida, in February or March.

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Russell, a second baseman, was a fourth-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2010. He played two seasons of minor league ball — one for the short-season Class A Tri-City Dust Devils and one for the Class A Asheville Tourists.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman described the move as a “unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete.”

“We’ve admired Russell’s career from afar for quite some time,” Cashman said in a statement. “After talking to a number of our players, there is a genuine excitement in having Russell join us for a short time in camp. We are all looking forward to gaining insight into how he leads teammates toward a common goal, prepares on a daily basis for the rigors of his sport, and navigates the successes and failures of a season.”

Wilson, a  Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowl player, hit .228 with five home runs in 315 minor league at-bats during the 2010 and ’11 seasons.

The Yankees open spring training play under new manager Aaron Boone against the Tigers on Feb. 23.

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Porzingis suffers torn ACL

The New York Knicks say All-Star Kristaps Porzingis has torn the ACL in his left knee.

Porzingis was hurt in the second quarter of New York’s loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday night. He dunked with 8:46 left in the half and landed awkwardly, crashing to the court and holding his left knee. He was eventually helped up and taken to the locker room.

Porzingis, 22, is averaging 22.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists and a league-leading 2.4 blocks per game. He was voted to his first-ever All-Star game as a reserve.

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The Knicks entered Tuesday night’s contest with a 23-31 record and sat four games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Should Porzingis miss an extended period of time, New York’s hopes of a playoff push would take a serious hit.

A number of All-Stars have suffered significant injuries since being named to the All-Star team. DeMarcus Cousins will miss the rest of the season after he tore his Achilles, John Wall had knee surgery that will keep him out for six weeks and Kevin Love will miss time with a broken bone is his hand.

Earlier this season, Porzingis appeared to suffer a severe injury when he turned his right ankle in a game against the Heat. He also punched the floor and needed help to get to the locker room that night. Porzingis only missed two games.

But Porzingis has had issues with the left knee this season. He left a game in December against the Nets because of pain in the knee, and missed the next two contests. Two weeks ago, Porzingis sat out against the Warriors because of “left-knee irritation.”

The announcement was something of a surprise following the measured reactions from Knicks coaches and players after the game. Coach Jeff Hornacek had said “hopefully he’s O.K.,” and Enes Kanter left the arena hoping for the best for his friend and teammate.

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