Category Archives: Sports

Rangers sign Seung-Hwan Oh

The Rangers added an arm to their bullpen on Tuesday, agreeing to a deal with free-agent reliever Seung Hwan Oh, a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, confirming a previous report by MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

The deal is pending a physical, per Rosenthal. The club has not confirmed the report. According to Morosi, the deal is for one year, $2.75 million with a $250,000 buyout and a $4.5 million club option for a second year. There are also performance bonuses up to $1 million for each year.

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Oh, who pitched for the Cardinals in 2016 and ’17, is entering his third season in the Major Leagues after 11 seasons in Korea and Japan. He’ll be looking to bounce back after a rocky ’17.

Oh’s second season wasn’t nearly as smooth as he went 1-6 with a 4.10 ERA in 62 games. He did, however, record one more save than in his first season, finishing with 20. His strikeout total plummeted to 54.

The Rangers’ bullpen blew 21 save opportunities last season. Alex Claudio finished the season as the team’s closer, converting 11 of 15 save chances. Matt Bush also saw time as the team’s closer, converting 10 of 15 save chances.

Texas will hope the Oh they’re getting will be closer to the one that broke into the majors in 2016 and that he can be a valuable addition to a bullpen with some uncertainty in its back end. If Oh does pitch well this year, he’ll be available to return at a reasonable price in 2019 thanks to the club option.

Texas will hope the Oh they’re getting will be closer to the one that broke into the majors in 2016 and that he can be a valuable addition to a bullpen with some uncertainty in its back end. If Oh does pitch well this year, he’ll be available to return at a reasonable price in 2019 thanks to the club option.

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Jazz’s Mitchell replaces Gordon in Dunk contest

Magic forward Aaron Gordon has been battling a hip flexor strain for the last few games and, unfortunately for fans everywhere, that injury has forced Gordon to withdraw from the slam dunk contest. However, the NBA has reportedly responded by putting in someone that a lot of people wanted to see in the original field. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is expected to replace Gordon.

Gordon put on one of the greatest dunk contest performances ever in 2016 and it’s a huge disappointment he won’t be able to participate. He’s a creative dunker and has the perfect mix of power and speed for the contest.

Mitchell, 21, has exploded into the NBA as a rookie this season, shoulder to shoulder with Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons in the Rookie of the Year race. He’s shown a penchant for explosive dunks and could fare well in the event.

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Mitchell is averaging 19.7 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game for Utah. He’s had two 40-plus-point performances.

“When I found out, I was excited,” Mitchell told reporters. “I have a couple of ideas. I’ve been googling YouTube and watching old dunk contests. I’m definitely excited to participate.”

Mitchell joins Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, Los Angeles Lakers center Larry Nance Jr. and Dallas Mavericks rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. in the dunk contest.

Defending Slam Dunk Contest champion Glenn Robinson III suffered an ankle injury during training camp and only recently returned to the court, playing for the Pacers’ G League affiliate.

Mitchell will no longer participate in the 2018 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge on the same night.  He will be replaced by Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield.

The Taco Bell® Skills Challenge now consists of Hield, Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets, Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets and Lou Williams of the LA Clippers as the guards in the eight-player field.  The big men in the competition are NBA All-Star Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, All-Star Al Horford of the Boston Celtics, rookie Lauri Markkanen of the Chicago Bulls and defending champion and All-Star Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks.

Also during NBA All-Star 2018, Mitchell will play for the U.S. Team and Hield (Bahamas) will compete for the World Team in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars on Friday, Feb. 16 at Staples Center.

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Nets trade Tyler Zeller to Milwaukee Bucks

Nets general manager Sean Marks has shown a knack for stockpiling draft picks, and he added another second-round pick on Monday when he traded veteran backup center Tyler Zeller to the Bucks in a deal that also brings third-year guard Rashad Vaughn to the Nets. If the Bucks’ second-round pick falls between No. 48-60, as it currently does, it will go to Phoenix in 2018 as part of a previous deal for Eric Bledsoe and the Nets will get the Bucks’ second-round pick in 2020.

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The trade first was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Most likely, the Nets will have to wait two years to collect the draft pick return for Zeller, who was signed as a free agent before this season and averaged 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 42 games, including 33 straight starts.

The 6-6 Vaughn, who was the No. 17 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, was included in the deal largely for salary-cap purposes. He is in the final year of a deal that pays him $1.89 million while Zeller makes $1.7 million this season and gets $1.9 million next season. Vaughn made 22 appearances for the Bucks this season, averaging 2.7 points in 7.9 minutes per game.

Vaughn is an aggressive shooter who hadn’t gotten much playing time in Milwaukee behind Khris Middleton, Tony Snell, Malcolm Brogdon and the shortened Bucks rotation. He only averaged seven minutes per game through 22 appearances, but Vaughn isn’t too far removed from averaging 17 points on 38 percent shooting as a scorer at UNLV. The Nets revitalized D’Angelo Russell, gave new life to both Okafor and Stauskas, and have a head coach in Kenny Atkinson who plays to his players’ strengths.

The Bucks and Nets didn’t pull off a blockbuster trade like Kyrie Irving to Boston or Griffin to Detroit, but this lower-level trade helps two teams position themselves for success. The NBA trade deadline ends Feb. 8.

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Raiders cut CB David Amerson

The Raiders began reshaping their roster on the first day of the NFL’s offseason, releasing cornerback David Amerson.

Amerson, 26, was due to earn a base salary of $5.5 million in 2018 that would have become guaranteed on Feb. 7, according to Pro Football Talk. The move was first reported Monday by ESPN’s Field Yates and confirmed by the team.

The Raiders signed Amerson to a four-year extension before the 2016 season. He started 15 games in 2016 but was limited to just six games in 2017 by injuries.

The Raiders are expected to make a multitude of roster changes to save money. Amerson is likely the first of many off season causalities.

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Amerson played in 6 of the Raiders first 7 games before missing the rest of the 2017 season with a foot injury. He did not have an interception and broke up four passes in his shortened season. The 26-year old had two interceptions in the 2016 season.

The Raiders finished 26th in pass defense last season, giving up 241 yards per game through the air. A healthy Gareon Conley, the team’s first-round pick last year, should provide a boost. But with Amerson gone and veteran Sean Smith a candidate to be released—he’s due $8.2 million next year and $8.7 million in 2019, per Spotrac.com, but can be released with no salary-cap hit—the Raiders could have several vacancies at the position.

Jon Gruden and company could seek to address the position in the draft or in free agency, depending on how much cap space they are able to free up. With players like Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, Bashaud Breeland, Aaron Colvin, Kyle Fuller, Rashaan Melvin, E.J. Gaines, Morris Claiborne and Patrick Robinson expected to hit free agency, the Raiders should have options on the market.

Amerson also sustained a concussion and shoulder injury early in the season, so the Raiders never saw him healthy for an extended period of time.

He practiced often late in the season, albeit on a limited basis more often than not, but never made it to game day. He frequented a side field at Raiders headquarters with a trainer, jogging without practice equipment on with the team on the main field.

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Danny Espinosa agrees deal with Yankees

Veteran infielder Danny Espinosa has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Yankees, a source confirmed to the News. As a non-roster invitee, Espinosa will compete for the Yankees’ starting second base job during spring training.

The Bombers, who could start youngsters Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar at second and third, also have Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Thairo Estrada and fellow minor-league invitee Jace Peterson in the mix at both spots.

Espinosa, 30, is considered a strong defender but struggled mightily at the plate last season, batting just .173 with six home runs during his time with the Angels, Mariners and Rays.

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While never a star at the plate throughout his eight seasons in the big leagues, Espinosa owns a track record of far more palatable results in the past. As recently as 2016 with the Nationals, he batted .209 and swatted 24 homers, and he’s a career .221 hitter.

In seven seasons with the Nationals, Espinosa never hit above .250. He did, however, manage two 20-plus home run seasons (2011 and ’16) while providing strong defense up the middle. According the FanGraphs, he has saved a total of 34 runs between shortstop and second base over the course of his eight years in the Majors. Unfortunately, his once saving grace was on the decline in 2017. He received a 2.6 defensive rating from FanGraphs, a career low, and finished a full win below replacement.

The veteran Torreyes could get the job at second base until after the Yankees have secured another full year of control over Torres. However, Espinosa, a right-handed hitter with two 20-plus home run seasons under his belt and a career .221/.297/.378 slash line, shouldn’t be overlooked.

Should new manager Aaron Boone prefer to keep Torreyes on the bench due to his versatility, the 30-year-old could wind up in the Yanks lineup on Opening Day.

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Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski cleared from concussion protocol

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared from the concussion protocol and will be ready to face the Eagles on Sunday in Super Bowl LII.

Gronkowski suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the Patriots’ 24-20 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship  game on Jan. 21. He was a limited participant in  practice Wednesday. On Thursday he was a full participant.

“We got the word today that I was cleared and it was nice to hear from the doctors,” Gronkowski said to a large press gathering. “We went through the whole process and we are ready to roll.”

Gronkowski said having the extra week before arriving in Minneapolis last Sunday helped him recover. The Patriots’ medical staff put him through a series of “brain games” and other tests on his road to being cleared, he said.

“We knew the whole time I’d be good to go,” he said.

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The Patriots proved they could win without the 6-foot-6, 265-pound Gronkowski by coming back to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also sat out last season’s epic Super Bowl comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons because of a back injury.

Brady is happy to have Gronkowski back in the field.

“Gronk is just a dominant player,” Brady said. “He always finds ways to have space.

“He’s tall, he’s fast, he’s quick, he’s got incredible hands. I mean, look at the guy. I mean, it’s pretty nice to throw to guys like that.”

As he held court with reporters for more than 30 minutes, Gronkowski appeared upbeat and excited to participate in media responsibilities that visibly wear on other players, especially by the end of the week.

But he declined to revisit specifics of the play that resulted in the concussion.

As Gronkowski attempted to make a catch late in the first half of the Patriots’ 24-20 victory at Gillette Stadium, he was struck by Jaguars safety Barry Church, who was penalized for unnecessary roughness and fined $24,309.

“It’s football. It is what it is,” Gronkowski said. “I mean, it’s a split second to make a decision. And it’s running full speed one way. I’m going the other way.

Before Gronkowski faced reporters, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was typically understated when asked how it felt to have the five-time Pro Bowl tight end clear concussion protocol.

“Good,” Belichick said. “Good to have everybody back.”

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Indians Martinez has surgery, out 6 months

Indians utility man Michael Martinez will miss the next six months with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. He underwent surgery on Wednesday at Cleveland Clinic. Martinez, 35, has squeezed the most out of a career that started in 2005. This could put his career in danger.

The switch-hitting Martinez suffered the injury doing agility drills in his native Dominican Republic in preparation for spring training. The Indians signed him to a minor league deal and invited him to big league camp.

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Martinez has spent the last three years bouncing in and out of the Tribe’s organization. He has spent big-league time with them in all three seasons, gaining the trust of manager Terry Francona as a reliable defender no matter what position he played.

He will be remembered by many for making the last out of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series against the Cubs, but in truth he had more good moments than bad for the Indians.

Martinez has played in 89 games with the Indians over three years, primarily as a late-inning defensive replacement. He has 35 hits with one home run and six RBI. He has also played with the Phillies, Red Sox, Pirates and Rays over a seven-year career.

Martinez started his career in the Washington Nationals system back in 2006. After a half-decade with the team, he was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Rule 5 draft. Martinez debuted in 2011, his first season with the Phillies.  He played in a career-high 88 games and hit .258 with three homers and 24 RBIs.

Martinez’s injury should help the causes of Erik Gonzalez and Giovanny Urshela as they compete for the utility job in spring training.

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Jeremy Hill says goodbye to Cincinnati Bengals

Jeremy Hill’s last game with the Cincinnati Bengals was on Oct. 29, 2017, when he rushed four times for 11 yards against the Indianapolis Colts.

A week later, as the team prepared to play in Jacksonville, Hill was a surprise inactive and then – to the surprise of head coach Marvin Lewis – elected to have season-ending ankle surgery.

An unrestricted free agent in 2018, the 25-year-old made a business decision. With the drafting of Joe Mixon, and the starting reins about to be handed to the rookie, and an already-reduced role, Hill decided he had to get healthy for potential new suitors come March.

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After the season, he held the door open – slightly – for a return. But on Wednesday, Hill tweeted “Been one hell of a ride Cincinnati on to the next chapter”

Despite being phased out of the offense after Mixon was drafted and putting up his worst season, statistically, in four years with the Bengals, Hill said it was not a difficult year to go through.

“Not at all,” he said. “I think this league presents all different type of challenges. Guys have gone through a lot more than I have. I’ve had the best of both worlds in that way, the highest of highs and lowest of lows in this league. That’s just part of it. Every player has their own journey that they go through and this is just part of mine.”

Hill, a second-round pick out of LSU in 2014, ran for 1,124 yards as a rookie that year. He then led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 11 in 2015, but he’s rushed for just 3.7 yards per carry and 955 total rushing yards in 22 games from 2016-17.

He enters a crowded running back market that could be led by Pittsburgh All-Pro Le’Veon Bell, but Hill is one of the youngest free agent runners hitting free agency.

“I’m not nervous at all,” he said. “I think the chips will fall where they may and I’m good with that going forward. I’m going to put the work in and when you do that you can sleep good at night knowing you did everything you could, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

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Arsenal sign Aubameyang Pierre-Emerick

Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund for a club-record fee, understood to be £60m.

The length of Aubameyang’s Arsenal deal has not been confirmed, with the club saying the Gabon international striker has signed “a long-term contract”.

Arsenal announced on their official website the transfer is subject to the completion of regulatory processes and the 28-year-old’s squad number will be confirmed soon.

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said: “Apart from the unpleasant events of recent weeks, we like to remember that the story of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund for more than four years was a success story.

“He has done great things for Borussia Dortmund at this time, scored many important goals and is part of the team that brought the DFB Cup to Dortmund in 2017.

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“We wish Pierre-Emerick all the best for his future at Arsenal.”

Aubameyang links up with former Dortmund team mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan after the Armenia midfielder joined the Gunners from Manchester United last week, with Chile forward Alexis Sanchez going the other way.

Aubameyang, who scored 98 goals in 144 Bundesliga games for Dortmund, expressed his delight at the deal and his hope of emulating Arsenal’s record goalscorer Thierry Henry.

“I’m happy to be here in this great team,” Aubameyang told the club’s website.

“I think the club have such a big history with great players like Thierry Henry, so it’s an example for us strikers… he was fast and scored a lot of goals. I have to work to be like him, but I will do.”

A cool finisher like former France international Henry, Aubameyang will add acceleration, power and a dose of unpredictability to Arsenal’s attack.

Aubameyang is most effective as a lone centre forward but with Lacazette currently occupying that position, it remains to be seen if Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is willing to tweak his formation to accommodate both forwards.

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Chiefs agree to trade QB Alex Smith to Redskins

The Kansas City Chiefs have agreed to trade quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins, a person familiar with the negotiations told USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be completed until the start of the league year on March 14. The Chiefs are expected to receive a third-round draft pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller in return, the person said.

Smith, who turns 34 in May, spent the past five seasons with the Chiefs, leading them to the playoffs four times while throwing for 102 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He carries a $17 million salary-cap hit for 2018.

Kansas City saves cap space and can turn to Mahomes, the 10th pick in last year’s draft out of Texas Tech, as its new starter.

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Smith becomes Washington’s new franchise quarterback after throwing for 31,888 yards and 183 touchdowns in 12 NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and Chiefs.

Smith is “one of the best competitors and teammates I’ve ever been around,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce posted on Twitter. “Someone who I owe a lot of my success to, and a guy that’s been a class act through all the ups n downs.”

The Redskins acquired Smith and signed him to the kind of long-term deal they balked at with Cousins, who became the first QB to play back-to-back seasons on the franchise tag. Cousins can become a free agent next month at age 29.

Cousins has been the biggest question hovering over Washington’s offseason — and, indeed, hovering over the whole organization for a couple of years as the team failed to sign him to a long-term deal.

This is the second time a team coached by Andy Reid has traded a 33-year-old QB to the Redskins. Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles dealt Donovan McNabb to Washington in 2010 for second- and third-round picks.

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