Category Archives: Sports

Blue Jays get Grichuk from Cardinals

Toronto acquired outfielder Randal Grichuk from the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday for reliever Dominic Leone and minor league pitcher Conner Greene.

“I think he’ll have the best chance of our group to take that position over for us in right field,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told reporters. “The fact that we have options and we’ll have some balance in today’s game, asking someone to get 700 plate appearances is a lot. There’s very few players that are doing it day in and day out. So where that number ends up, we’ll see, but I think he’ll have the best chance at the outset to be that regular for us.”

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The 26-year-old Grichuk appeared in 122 games for St. Louis in 2017, batting .238, with 22 home runs, 59 runs batted in and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .758.

Grichuk has played 57 games in left field, 55 in right and five in centre. He has a career batting average of .249, with 66 homers and 182 RBI’s in four seasons with the Cardinals.

A good defender who has played 162 of his 346 big-league games in centre field, Grichuk joins a group of outfielders that includes Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson, who reached agreement on a $5-million, one-year deal with the club earlier this week pending a physical.

The Blue Jays now have between $148 and $148.9 million in guarantees this season – depending on how an arbitrator rules in the club’s cases versus Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna – leaving them an estimated $13 million to work with on a payroll of $165 million.

Losing Leone, due to earn $1,085,000 in 2018 after posting a 2.56 ERA in 70.1 innings over 65 games, removes a known element from the Blue Jays bullpen and his departure suggests there might be another relief add to come.

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Dowell Loggains hired as Dolphins OC

Dowell Loggains found a soft landing spot with a friend after being dismissed from the Chicago Bears. The Miami Dolphins officially hired Loggains on Friday, two weeks after NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the move.

Miami reassigned former OC Clyde Christensen to director of football and player development. The Dolphins also announced the hiring of offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and the firings of defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo, running backs coach Danny Barrett and defensive line coach Terrell Williams.

Loggains worked with Dolphins coach Adam Gase in Chicago during the latter’s one year as offensive coordinator of the Bears. Loggains was promoted from QB coach to OC after Gase left for Miami.

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The 37-year-old Loggains entered NFL coaching as a quality control coordinator for the Tennessee Titans in 2008. He was promoted to QB coach in 2010, and to offensive coordinator in 2012 (Mike Munchak lost his job in part because he refused to fire assistants, including Loggains). Loggains spent one year as the Browns QB coach before joining Gase in Chicago.

Loggains spent the last two seasons as Chicago’s offensive coordinator, but the Bears offense scuffled with him in charge. In 2017 his offense ranked 30th overall, averaging just 287.4 yards per game. The unit also averaged just 16.5 points per game, fourth-worst in the NFL. After the firing of John Fox in Chicago, Loggains was given the ability to look for other jobs.

Loggains, who worked with coach Adam Gase’s staff in Chicago, said he looks forward to getting going with quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

“Excited about working with him,” he said, adding, “he’s a guy that’s got a lot of physical traits. Adam thinks a lot of him so I’m excited for the offseason to start and be able to get in the classroom and start grinding on the field and doing those things to help him get better.”

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Twins hire Jim Kaat as Special Assistant

The Minnesota Twins continue adding staff to their front office, one day after Justin Morneau retired from baseball to re-join the organization.

The Twins announced Thursday they’ve hired legendary pitcher Jim Kaat as a special assistant. Kaat, 79, spent 15 of his 25 seasons with the Twins and Washington Senators. In 468 career games with the Twins, he went 189-152 with a 3.28 earned run average, had 133 complete games and more than 1,800 strikeouts.

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He’s the Twins all-time leader in wins and innings pitched. He was inducted to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2001 and named one of the 50 Greatest Twins in 2010.

Kaat spent 25 seasons in the major leagues, including 13 years with the Twins from 1961-72. He is the club’s all-time leader with 189 wins and 2,959 innings.

The Twins have Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek, Tom Kelly and Tony Oliva in similar roles. They’ve also hired former players Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Justin Morneau from the next generation as special assistants.

Kaat will be involved with Twins community and business initiatives both in Minnesota and Florida.

“The Twins organization is thrilled to have Jim Kaat back on board,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said. “Jim’s history with this franchise as well as our game is rich and legendary. It’s special to have this opportunity to bring him back home to the community and region he loves so much.”

Kaat has worked as a broadcaster since retirement, including stints with the Twins, Yankees and MLB Network. He retired from calling Yankees games full time in 2006. He remains a candidate to be elected to the Hall of Fame as part of MLB’s Golden Era Committee.

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John Morton fired as Jets OC

John Morton’s stint as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets has reportedly come to an end after one season.  Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News first reported the Jets were firing Morton on Wednesday. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport confirmed the move.

After the 2017 regular season ended, ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini reported some Jets players had mixed feelings about Morton’s play-calling and “felt he relied too heavily on the passing game.”

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Morton, in his first year with the Jets, had the 24th-ranked passing attack (198.9 yards a game) and 19th-rated ground game (106.4) in the NFL. The Jets averaged 18.6 points, putting them 24th. Todd Bowles, according to a source, said the change was more about philosophy than anything else.

One of the leading candidates to replace Morton is Jets quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. Bowles praised Bates for his work with backups Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg this past season.

“He gives them tips, tidbits, fundamentals and techniques and things to work on and things to watch,” Bowles said of Bates when the season ended. “I thought Jeremy did an outstanding job this season.”

Todd Haley, who was let go by the Steelers on Wednesday, is another candidate. Haley, 50, was Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator for the past six seasons. He and Bowles were on the same staff in Dallas for two seasons, and an NFL executive, who requested anonymity, said he believes Haley and Bowles could work together.

Haley has strong ties to the Jets. He was the Jets’ wide receivers coach in 1999 and 2000, and his father, Dick Haley, was the Jets’ player personnel director from 1991-2002.

When the season ended, Jets’ officials were aware the Raiders wanted to hire Morton for an offensive coach’s position. But the Jets were still evaluating what to do with their offensive staff.

Now the Jets are searching for a starting quarterback and a play-caller. McCown is 38 and a free agent, and it hasn’t been determined whether he will return in 2018. So the new play-caller could be working with a rookie quarterback as the starter or a high-priced free agent.

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Todd Haley will not return as Steelers OC coach

The Pittsburgh Steelers parted ways with offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Wednesday, opting not to renew his contract for a seventh season.

“I have made the decision to not renew the contract for offensive coordinator Todd Haley,” Tomlin said in a statement. “I would like to thank Todd for his contributions to our offense the past six years, and we wish him the best in his coaching future.”

Haley, 50, helped the Steelers rank among the best offenses in the NFL. They ranked third in total offense during the 2017 season.

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Haley, whose father Dick spent two decades as Pittsburgh’s director of player personnel in the 1970s and 80s, was hired in 2012 and tasked with developing an offence around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Though there appeared to be some tension between the two early in Haley’s tenure, the results rewrote much of the team record book.

Pittsburgh won three division titles and reached the playoffs in each of those seasons thanks in part to Haley’s playcalling, the ascension of All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to one of the best players in the league and the arrival and development of All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell.

Brown is the only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions. Bell is one of the best all-around backs in the league and his 406 touches in 2017 were 60 more than any other player.

Roethlisberger tied for the NFL lead in yards passing in 2014 and just as importantly saw the number of times he was sacked decrease substantially even as he put the ball in the air more frequently.

Haley and Roethlisberger downplayed any discord between the two, though Haley swapped places with Randy Fichtner in the middle of the season, moving from the sideline to the coach’s box.

Whoever replaces him will have one of the most talented offences in the NFL at his disposal. The entire starting offensive line is under contract for 2018. Roethlisberger has already stated publicly he will be back for a 15th season.

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Nicolas Otamendi extends contract with Manchester until 2022

Defender Nicolas Otamendi has extended his contract with Manchester City until 2022, the Premier League club has announced. The Argentina international has played in all but one of City’s 23 Premier League matches so far this season.

Otamendi, 29, joined City from Valencia during the summer of 2015, having moved to Spain from Porto. The defender has become an integral part of Pep Guardiola’s side, which remained unbeaten in the Premier League until the 4-3 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday. Otamendi, who has 51 international caps, is expected to feature for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Otamendi feels very settled in a “beautiful city”. He said in an interview with CityTV:  “At the club, I am really enjoying my experience since the first day I got here. I am very happy to be staying here a couple more years.”

The defender added: “For the way I have improved, I am in a really good moment, but I can still improve. The players keep learning every day, and I try to be a better player after every single game.”

Despite City’s impressive start,  Otamendi believes no-one in the team will allow any complacency as they look to close in on the Premier League title.

“The season is going really well and we want to keep going in that way,” the defender said. “We are very focused on every single game, and afterwards we try to recover in the best way we can and be focused for the next.”

Otamendi has scored five goals so far this season – including the winner over rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

“Every movement, how you need to be positioned, how you can receive the ball, all this information is in your brain and this is very important for a football player. I am very happy to be playing this kind of football.”

Otamendi added: “When a manager like Pep praises you, it means a lot. Since he got here, I have learnt a lot. I am still learning and I’m trying to enjoy it.

“We are in a certain timeframe where we all enjoy his football – he is mad about sport and tactics. I am really enjoying it and am very grateful to him.”

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Tyler Johnson suffers sprained ankle

The Miami Heat suffered a huge blow on Monday as Tyler Johnson went down with an ankle injury in the third quarter. He was not able to leave the court on his own and had to be taken off in a wheelchair which was not a good sign at all for the South Beach faithful.

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The 25-year-old Fresno State product was brought immediately to their locker room where an X-ray was done to check on the extent of the injury and if there’s any structural damage to it. If there’s any good news for the Heat at this point, head coach Erik Spoelstra has shared, via Nick Friedell of ESPN, that results came back negative. An MRI is still expected to be done on Tuesday to make sure team doctors find out its severity. He also added that Johnson is relieved he did not suffer a serious injury to his knee which will most likely force him to miss the remainder of the season.

Johnson is averaging 22.6 FanDuel points in 40 games (12 starts) this season. Over the remainder of the year, numberFire’s models currently project him to record 12.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.4 3-pointers per game.

There’s still a decent chance Johnson misses some time, with Wednesday’s game against the Bucks coming as the first potential absence. Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson are candidates to see big minutes if Johnson does indeed remain sidelined for that contest.

After a collision with Bulls big man Robin Lopez in the third quarter of Miami’s 119-111 loss in Chicago, Johnson stayed down on the floor for several minutes before being carted off in a wheelchair.

“It’s actually the back of his foot, his ankle,” Spoelstra said. “Everything was fine with [the X-rays] so the first part of the news is he’s relieved. We were all thinking the worst but we’ll see if we can get an MRI done [Tuesday]. Right now he just has it wrapped in tape so that’s a good sign but we’ll know more.”

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Ken Norton Jr takes Seahawks DC Job

The Seahawks are reportedly hiring Ken Norton Jr. as their new defensive coordinator to replace Kris Richard, whose status remains uncertain but won’t return as the DC.

The news was first reported by Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network and then confirmed by the 49ers, who had hired Norton last week as assistant head coach-defense/inside linebackers.

“Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense,” said a statement from 49esr coach Kyle Shanahan. “Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position.”

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Norton was with the Seahawks from 2010-14 as linebackers coach before leaving to become the defensive coordinator of the Raiders when the Seahawks chose Richard to replace Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator. Quinn left to become the head coach of the Falcons.

Norton was fired by the Raiders in November and then announced as hired last week by the 49ers.

But his San Francisco contract included an out allowing him to take a job as a coordinator.

Norton is the son of former heavyweight boxer Ken Norton and spent 13 years as a linebacker in the NFL with the Cowboys and the 49ers, winning three straight Super Bowl rings in 1992-93-94.

He spent all of his coaching career under Pete Carroll until the move to the Raiders in 2015, beginning at USC in 2004 as a defensive assistant and then from 2005-08 as linebackers coach and 2009 as assistant head coach-defense/linebackers before coming to Seattle with Carroll in 2010.

He held the title of linebackers coach for all five years of his Seattle tenure before leaving for the Raiders in Feb., 2015.

Sources have confirmed to the Seattle Times that Brian Schottenheimer is expected to officially be named the team’s offensive coordinator soon after reports emerged Saturday that he had been offered the job.

Garafolo also reported that the Seahawks are hiring Mike Solari as offensive line coach to replace Tom Cable, which a source later confirmed to the Seattle Times.

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Howie Kendrick agrees two year deal with Nationals

The Washington Nationals are bring back a quality veteran bench player. According to multiple reports, the Nationals and Howie Kendrick have agreed to a two-year contract worth a mere $7 million.

Kendrick, 34, finished last season with the Nationals after coming over in a midseason trade with the Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .345/.368/.475 (119 OPS+) with nine home runs in 91 total games last year, including .340/.397/.454 (127 OPS+) with two homers in 39 games with Washington.

These days Kendrick is more of a utility player than a full-time starter. He hasn’t played second base regularly in two years, and last season he spent time at four positions first base, second base, left field and right field.

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The Nationals have a full infield and figure to go with Brian Goodwin and Michael Taylor in left field following the departure of Jayson Werth. Kendrick could be in that left field mix as well. The $3.5 million annual salary is a relative bargain these days, even for a high-end bench player. Quality depth players are a necessity, not a luxury, and that’s what Kendrick is for Washington.

The club has not yet confirmed the agreement, which is worth $7 million and is pending a physical, according to the source.

Kendrick’s speed is also a potential asset for new manager Dave Martinez off the bench, as the 12-year veteran has racked up double-digit steals in eight big league seasons, including 12 last year.

“Love Howie Kendrick,“ Rizzo said. “Love what he brought us in the clubhouse, with the young players, and he’s got a good skill set, and it all depends on what value he brings to us, but he’s a guy that did nothing but great things for us between the lines and in the clubhouse.”

Kendrick is expected to fill out the team’s bench that currently projects to include Matt Adams,Wilmer Difo, Brian Goodwin and Pedro Severino.

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Mularkey and Titans mutually agree to part ways

The Titans and coach Mike Mularkey have mutually agreed to part ways, the team announced early Monday. He went 20-21 in two-plus seasons as the Titans coach.

“I want to thank Mike Mularkey for his contributions to our franchise over his tenure with our organization,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “He took over our team during a low moment and together with(GM Jon Robinson) built a solid foundation for our franchise. I appreciated that Mike devoted himself to this team and the community.”

There were rumors Mularkey could be fired if the Titans lost their AFC wild-card game to the Chiefs, but the team rallied from a 21-3 deficit for a 22-21 victory. However, the season came to an unceremonious end Saturday with a 35-14 loss to the Patriots.

The Tennesseean reported a potential extension Sunday and that Mularkey spoke with team owner Adams Strunk, who gave Mularkey a vote of confidence last week.

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Robinson might secretly wish this parting happened sooner. The former protégé of Bill Belichick holds ties to Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator who is viewed as a “clear favorite” to take the Colts job, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

After joining the organization as a tight ends coach in 2014, Mularkey was named the Titans’ interim head coach midway through the 2015 season when Ken Whisenhunt was fired following a 1-6 start.

The Titans took the interim label off Mularkey in January 2016, as Strunk said at the time he was the right person to lead the franchise back to prominence in the AFC.

“Mike is a quality coach and an outstanding person who will help us build this team the right way,” she told reporters. “He has experience as a head coach and a track record for developing young quarterbacks and dynamic offenses, and he also brings continuity for our franchise quarterback.”

Strunk also said the turnaround “may take time” because of the state of Tennessee’s roster after a 3-13 performance in 2015. Things turned quickly as the Titans went 9-7 in 2016, their first winning season in five years.

With expectations raised after that winning season, the Titans’ 9-7 record in 2017 was a disappointment, even though they managed to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round.

Mularkey’s squad lost handily to the Patriots, but he did help set a solid foundation that his successor can build on in 2018.

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