All posts by phnseo

Braves look to cool off Diamondbacks OF Peralta

It will be a matchup of surging southpaw starters when the Arizona Diamondbacks and host Atlanta Braves open their three-game series Tuesday night.

Arizona kicks off a 10-game road trip by sending Robbie Ray (0-1, 3.52) against Atlanta’s Max Fried (2-0, 0.00).

The Diamondbacks broke a four-game losing streak by beating the San Diego Padres on Sunday. Atlanta has won two straight after splitting a four-game series with the New York Mets.

Ray received no-decision in his last start on April 10 against the Texas Rangers. He allowed one run on two hits with 10 strikeouts in his five-inning stint. He has allowed three or fewer runs in three straight games to start the season and opponents are batting only .137 against him.

Ray is 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA in three career starts against Atlanta, but will be making his first career start at SunTrust Park.

Fried has not given up an earned run in his two starts and has forced his way into the rotation. He was originally seen as a long man and opened the season in the bullpen. Fried threw his knee-buckling curve ball 37 percent of the time in his last start at Colorado. “In the bullpen, I noticed all my pitches were breaking about the same as they normally did,” Fried said. “So I just wanted to attack them, get ahead, throw some curveballs, some sliders, some changeups, and keep them off balance.”

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The Diamondbacks have been struggling with offense. They scored four or fewer runs three times over their past seven games. Arizona lost three one-run games during that stretch and hit only .237 overall and .185 with runners in scoring position.

One exception is outfielder David Peralta, who will be happy to see the Braves. He is a career .333 hitter (30-for-98) with two doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs in 25 games against Atlanta.

Peralta was given the day off Sunday, but got a chance to pinch-hit in the sixth inning and hit a three-run homer.

“Even if you’re not in the lineup, you always have to be ready for the opportunity, any kind of opportunity,” Peralta said. Peralta has been ready all season. His 25 hits through 16 games matches the team record set by Matt Williams in 1999 and his league-leading nine doubles are a franchise best for that span. He’s batting .373 with 10 RBIs.

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Tiger Woods wins first Masters since 2005

Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters Sunday nearly 11 years after his last major victory in one of the greatest comebacks in the sport’s history.

Woods, 43, won the tournament by one stroke in a close competition that at one point saw five golfers sharing of the lead. Things grew even more dramatic when four golfers remained tied with just a few holes left to play, Yahoo Sports reported.

Woods’ rivals, some of whom are seen as his successors, all hit disappointing shots in their final holes, with one, Francesco Molinari, sending his ball into the water.

With two holes to go, Woods took a two shot lead, and carried things over the finish line with the crowd cheering him on. “When I tapped the putt in, I don’t know what I did, but I know I screamed,” Woods said of his final stroke. “To have my kids there, it’s come full circle. My dad was here in 1997 and now I’m the dad with two kids there.”

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This is Woods’ 15th Majors victory and his first Masters since 2005. He won his first Masters at the age of 21, in 1997, simultaneously becoming the youngest golfer and first black man to win the tournament. In recent years, the champion struggled with injuries and personal troubles, leading some to believe his best years were behind him.

Those critics have now been silenced. In addition to Woods’ fifth Masters championship and 15th major title (trailing only the great Jack Nicklaus in both categories), Sunday marked his 81st victory on the PGA Tour, one away from the career record held by Sam Snead. It was also the first time Tiger had won one of golf’s four major championships when not entering the final round with at least a share of the lead.

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Kings’ Divac fires Joerger after 39-win season

The Kings are moving on from coach Dave Joerger, The team announced Thursday it has fired its third-year coach on the heels of his best season in Sacramento.

Joerger, who had one year and approximately $5 million remaining on his contract, led the Kings to a 39-43 record during the 2018-19 season — a 12-win improvement from the year before. Sacramento missed the playoffs for the third straight season under Joerger, going 98-148 (.398) overall during his tenure.

“After evaluating the season, I determined that we need to move in a different direction in order to take us to the next level,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said in a release. “On behalf of the entire Kings organization, I want to thank Dave for his contributions to our team and I wish him all the best.” The news comes after Divac agreed to a four-year extension with Sacramento to keep him through the 2022-23 season. ESPN reported “Divac is pushing to consolidate his power as Kings top basketball executive” and will hold a meeting Thursday to fire Joerger.

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A separate ESPN report revealed there has been growing tension between Joerger and the front office, while The Athletic noted there has been a trust issue between Joerger and assistant general manager Brandon Williams for much of the season.

One potential candidate to replace Joerger is Luke Walton, The New York Times reported. The Lakers coach has faced speculation all season about his future with Los Angeles. After former Lakers president Magic Johnson stepped down Tuesday, reports surfaced that Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss had given Johnson permission to fire Walton.

The Kings lost to 136-131 to the Trail Blazers on Wednesday when Joerger decided to sit his starters in the second half. Sacramento managed to lose a 28-point lead from the first half.

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Jets bring Montgomery to backup Bell

The Jets added some depth to their running back room Thursday when the team and former Packers running back Ty Montgomery agreed on a one-year deal.

Montgomery will contend to be Le’Veon Bell’s backup along with Elijah McGuire, Trenton Cannon and De’Angelo Henderson.

Montgomery was a wide receiver at Stanford and was drafted in the third round by the Packers. Green Bay converted him into a running back in 2016 due to a rash of injuries at the position. He finished that season with 457 yards rushing on 77 carries and scored three touchdowns.

The 2016 totals are his career highs. He only ran for 273 yards on 71 carries in 2017, again scoring three touchdowns.

In 2018, the Packers traded him at midseason after he messed up in a game against the Rams.

With the Packers losing 29-27 and 2:05 left in the game, Montgomery returned a kickoff from the end zone and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the Rams and the Packers lost. It was later reported that Montgomery had been instructed to take a knee. He was traded to the Ravens two days after the game for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft.

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Montgomery, 26, rushed 15 times for 83 yards in six games with the Ravens. His 2018 totals with both the Packers and Ravens were 41 rushes for 188 yards and one touchdown.

Montgomery will have to compete with McGuire to be Bell’s primary backup. The Jets also could be eyeing Montgomery as a kick returner. He has 35 kickoff returns in his career, averaging 22.7 yards per return. Jets coach Adam Gase has spoken highly of backup Elijah McGuire, but he evidently wanted a more experienced player behind Bell, the team’s marquee addition in free agency.

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Tigers OF Jones activated from IL

JaCoby Jones is back with the Tigers.

With Jones activated off the injured list Thursday, the Tigers designated outfielder Mikie Mahtook for assignment.

Mahtook, who began the season hitless in 23 at-bats, will be exposed to waivers. If Mahtook clears, he will be re-assigned to Toledo or given his outright release.

“(Mahtook) knew it when he sat down. He said ‘I get it, I’m not playing well,’” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And after a good spring, a real good spring. He was scuffling at the plate, hitting a lot of balls into the air, which in this ballpark, is real tough.

“Defensively, in center field, he’s a corner guy more so than anything, so we put him in a spot, but he could play it out there and he did OK. A couple of boo-boos, but he did OK.

“It’s just one of those situations where the other guys, we’re comfortable with right now and he’s the one that was struggling the most. It’s unfortunate.”

Jones began the season on the sidelines after sustaining an A.C. joint sprain in the left shoulder late in spring training.

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Head coach Jon Gruden praised Richard on multiple occasions last season, at one point saying Richard “might be the MVP of our team” and comparing him to former Raiders and 49ers back Charlie Garner.

After signing free agent Isaiah Crowell last month, the Raiders’ running backs group includes Crowell, Richard, DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren III. Warren spent last season on injured reserve after leading the Raiders in rushing yards during the preseason. Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch, the team’s lead backs in 2018, are both unrestricted free agents. A native of Alexandria, La., Richard played four years at Southern Mississippi, appearing in 41 games with 29 starts. He totaled 2,082 rushing yards on 397 carries with 19 touchdowns and added 83 receptions for 675 yards with five touchdowns.

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Raiders re-sign free-agent RB Richard

The Oakland Raiders have re-signed restricted free agent RB Jalen Richard, the club announced Wednesday.

Richard originally joined the Silver and Black after participating on a tryout basis at the team’s rookie mini-camp in May 2016. Over his three seasons in Oakland, the 5-foot-8, 205-pound running back has played in all 48 career games with two starts, totaling 1,025 rushing yards on 194 carries (5.3 avg.) with three touchdowns and adding 1,057 receiving yards on 124 receptions with three touchdowns. Richard has also recorded 62 punt returns for 464 yards and 25 kickoff returns for 492 yards and was named a Pro Bowl alternate as a return specialist in 2016.

In 2018, Richard played in all 16 games with one start and set career highs in receptions (68) and receiving yards (607), while adding 55 carries for 259 yards with one touchdown. His 68 receptions tied for the team lead and also tied with Marcus Allen for the fourth-most receptions by a running back in franchise history.

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Head coach Jon Gruden praised Richard on multiple occasions last season, at one point saying Richard “might be the MVP of our team” and comparing him to former Raiders and 49ers back Charlie Garner.

After signing free agent Isaiah Crowell last month, the Raiders’ running backs group includes Crowell, Richard, DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren III. Warren spent last season on injured reserve after leading the Raiders in rushing yards during the preseason. Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch, the team’s lead backs in 2018, are both unrestricted free agents. A native of Alexandria, La., Richard played four years at Southern Mississippi, appearing in 41 games with 29 starts. He totaled 2,082 rushing yards on 397 carries with 19 touchdowns and added 83 receptions for 675 yards with five touchdowns.

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Magic abruptly steps down as Lakers president

Magic Johnson abruptly quit as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations Tuesday night, citing his desire to return to the simpler life he enjoyed as a wealthy businessman and beloved former player before taking charge of this tempestuous franchise just over two years ago.

Johnson didn’t tell owner Jeanie Buss or general manager Rob Pelinka about his shocking decision before he announced it in front of reporters about 90 minutes before the final game of the Lakers’ sixth consecutive losing season.

Los Angeles were 37-44 heading into its game against Portland, missing the playoffs yet again despite the offseason addition of LeBron James. “I want to go back to having fun,” Johnson said before fighting off tears. “I want to go back to being who I was before taking on this job. We’re halfway there with LeBron coming (last summer). I think this summer, with that other star coming in, whoever is going to bring him in, I think this team is really going to be in position to contend for a championship with the growth of the young players.”

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Johnson didn’t directly tie his decision to the future of Luke Walton, but the third-year coach was widely expected to be fired by Johnson. Without using names, Johnson repeatedly mentioned Buss’ affinity for Walton, who was in place before Johnson got the job in February 2017, and Johnson’s desire not to cause upheaval between the owner and her chosen coach.

Johnson’s desire for his old life wasn’t the only reason for his departure. He also said he is tired of being investigated or fined by the NBA for tampering when he comments on basketball on Twitter or even speaks to another organization’s player. The Lakers are finishing this season with their best record in six years, but they were eliminated from playoff contention back on 22 March. They had never missed the playoffs in more than two consecutive seasons before this six-year drought.

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DE Clayborn returns to Falcons on 1-year deal

Free-agent defensive end Adrian Clayborn is heading back to familiar territory.

The Atlanta Falcons signed Clayborn to a one-year contract, the team announced Tuesday. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Clayborn’s deal is worth up to $4 million. ESPN first reported the signing.

Clayborn, who turns 31 on July 6, spent three seasons with the Falcons from 2015 to 2017 before signing with the New England Patriots in 2018. He entered the league in 2011 as a first-round pick with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 30-year-old had just 2.5 sacks during the 2018 regular season and one in the playoffs. He’s only a year removed from nearly reaching double digits, though six of Clayborn’s 9.5 sacks in 2017 came during a single impressive performance against the Dallas Cowboys.

Atlanta struggled to rush the passer in 2018. It produced a total of 37 sacks (tied for 22nd), led by Takkarist McKinley with seven. The cap-poor Falcons have been relatively quiet during free agency, retooling their offensive line by signing guards Jamon Brown and James Carpenter and adding depth to the offensive skill positions.

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Clayborn started all 16 games for Tampa Bay during his rookie campaign and was impressive, totaling 42 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. Then, the following year, he appeared in just three contests due to injury, logging two tackles. He returned to the field in 2013, registering 64 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and a couple of forced fumbles, but injuries cost him all but one game in 2014.

Due to the fact that Clayborn had trouble staying healthy, the Buccaneers let him walk via free agency that offseason, and he ended up signing with the Falcons.

During his first season in Atlanta, Clayborn recorded 15 tackles, three sacks, and a fumble recovery. The next year, he was a bit more productive, posting 22 tackle, 4.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, and a defensive touchdown in helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl. His final season with Atlanta represented the best year of his career, as he racked up 21 tackles, 9.5 sacks, a couple of forced fumbles, a pair of fumble recoveries, and a defensive score.

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Pedroia returns, to make ’19 debut for Red Sox

The Red Sox on Tuesday activated second baseman Dustin Pedroia off the injured list. Infielder Tzu-Wei Lin was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Pedroia.

On Sunday, Pedroia completed his three-game rehab stint with the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’ Single A affiliate. He went 3 for 9 with a pair of walks and a strikeout, hitting line drives while getting a workout both on the bases and in the field that included back-to-back games on Thursday (nine innings) and Friday (five innings), as well as an additional nine innings Sunday.

Pedroia felt he checked all the necessary boxes.

“I’m pretty confident that I’m going to be back for good and it’s going to be fun,’’ Pedroia told WSPA-TV in Greenville. “Everything went perfect. I feel great. I’m ready to go.’’ Pedroia, 35, played in just three games at the end of last May in his return from multiple surgeries on his left knee before he landed back on the sidelines for the rest of the season, during which time he required another procedure to remove scar tissue.

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But since returning to the field in spring training, Pedroia has tolerated a steady buildup of activity without any setbacks.

Though the 2008 AL MVP likely won’t be asked to handle an everyday role this season after back-to-back injury shortened campaigns, Pedroia should still see the bulk of the action at the keystone moving forward, resulting in Eduardo Nunez handling more of a utility role for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox are in last place and have the worst run differential (minus-26) in all of baseball. Only four teams have made more errors, and Boston’s five-man pitching rotation (aggregate salary: $88 million) has an ERA of 9.13. The Red Sox have won four championships since 2004. They are the dominant major league baseball team of the 21st century. And on Tuesday, Fenway will be full of fans happy to remind the Red Sox that they were a very good team just a few months ago.

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Cardinals re-sign DT Rodney Gunter, ink 4 more free agents

The Arizona Cardinals re-signed free agent tackle Rodney Gunter to a one-year contract on Monday, solidifying another rotation piece on the defensive line.

The team also announced it has signed one-year contracts with tight end Darrell Daniels and offensive lineman Jeremy Vujnovich, who were both exclusive rights free agents.

Alliance of American Football offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Jeremiah Poutasi additionally agreed to one-year deals with Arizona after the upstart football league released them to join NFL teams this past week.

Gunter, who reportedly received interest from the Green Bay Packers as a free agent, has been with the Cardinals since coming out of the 2015 NFL Draft as a fourth-round pick from Delaware State. In his four seasons with the team, he has recorded 95 total tackles, 8.0 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

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The defensive tackle put together his best season in 2018, making a career-high 44 total tackles. He added 4.5 sacks, tying Robert Nkemdiche for second on the team behind only defensive end Chandler Jones (13.0).

With Nkemdiche suffering an ACL injury toward the end of 2018, Gunter will likely be leaned upon heavily to start 2019. He joins a front headlined by vetern Corey Peters and free agent addition Darius Philon.

Daniels, a 6-foot-3, 246-pound tight end, played in two games last year and brings depth behind Ricky Seals-Jones and Charles Clay, who presumably are the favorites to impact the offense led by first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Vujnovich started two games and played in five before he ended the season on the injured reserve list. Lauderdale played for the Arizona Hotshots in the AAF this spring and has spent time in the NFL with the 49ers, Bills and Saints. Poutasi played for the AAF’s Salt Lake Stallions and was a third-round pick of the Titans in 2015.

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