Cleveland Guardians stop Tampa Bay Rays from clinching AL wild-card spot, rally to win 2-1

Small plastic strips dangled from the ceiling in Tampa Bay’s clubhouse, which had been cleared of furniture and prepped over the final innings for what was supposed to be wild, wet celebration.

The Guardians had other plans.

“We don’t want people celebrating in our house, right?” Cleveland starter Cal Quantrill said.

Rookies Oscar Gonzalez and Steven Kwan drove in runs in the eighth inning as the Guardians denied the Rays from clinching one of the AL’s three wild-card spots, rallying for a 2-1 victory on Thursday night.

The Central champion Guardians took two of three game in a tight series — and potentially a playoff preview. Two games went to extra innings and all three were decided by one run.

After Baltimore lost in Boston earlier, the Rays took the field needing a win to make the postseason for the fourth year in a row. But they couldn’t hold off a Cleveland team that has fought back all season.

“Kind of been our [modus operandi] all year long,” Quantrill said. “You can’t put us away. I don’t think we’re a very fun team to face.” Coolers filled with beer and champagne were wheeled in and out of Tampa’s clubhouse as the Rays packed their gear and left for Houston still a win away from making the postseason field.

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“There’s disappointment any time we lose,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, not wanting to put any extra emphasis on one game that slipped away late. “The disappointment is we were up in the eighth inning and we lost.”

Tampa Bay had an opportunity in the ninth inning, loading the bases on three walks by reliever Trevor Stephan. But he struck out Ji-Man Choi and then got Isaac Paredes to fly to short right to earn his third save.

“That’s a really good team,” said Quantrill, who remained unbeaten at Progressive Field in 33 starts. “I know a couple of guys on that team. I like that team. But we don’t want them to celebrate here.

“They can go celebrate wherever they’re heading next. It’s not about proving we can beat them. It comes back to proving that we can continue to play the game the way we want to play it.”

The Guardians have 37 come-from-behind victories and they extended their team record to 29 victories in their final at-bat. 

Enyel De Los Santos (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth as Cleveland improved to 20-4 since Sept. 4.

Shut out for seven innings, the Guardians got a pinch-hit single off Shawn Armstrong (2-3) from rookie Will Brennan to start the eighth. Myles Straw then sacrificed and Kwan doubled to tie it 1-all.

The Rays walked the dangerous Jose Ramirez with two outs to face Gonzalez, who hit a slow roller to the right side just out of Choi’s reach at first as Brennan scored.

“I felt bad for Army,” Cash said. “He threw the ball so well and Gonzalez swings at a pitch that almost hit him and just found that perfect spot.” Cleveland’s comeback kept Quantrill’s perfect mark at home intact. The right-hander allowed just one run and three hits in six innings but appeared to be on his way to a tough loss before his teammates rallied.

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Kansas City Chiefs-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game to remain in Tampa after Hurricane Ian

Sunday night’s match between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will continue to be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as initially scheduled, the NFL announced Thursday.

The NFL had selected U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as a contingency site for the game after the Bucs had evacuated the area because of Hurricane Ian.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the many thousands in the Southwest Florida region who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Ian,” the Bucs said in a statement Thursday. “We are also very thankful that the Tampa Bay area was spared the most damaging consequences of this powerful storm.

“We have informed the NFL, after consulting with local and state agencies, that we are ready to play Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium as originally scheduled.”

The Bucs also voiced gratitude to first responders and emergency personnel “who are already battling the elements, saving lives, and helping our neighbors in those most impacted areas to our south.” Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady hopes the game can help bring people together for “a common good.”

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“I always feel like sports has brought people together over a long period of time,” Brady stated. And watching different adversities — whether that was 9/11, whether that was [Hurricane] Katrina — sports has an amazing way of kind healing wounds and bringing people together and bringing communities together in something to cheer for and a common interest and a common good. So I think anytime you can participate in things like that, it’s a great feeling.

“… After what so many people have gone through in the state, it’s great to go out there and give them something to cheer about.”

Tampa mayor Jane Castor took to Twitter on Thursday to quip that she has “assured the @NFL that the only disturbance here Sunday is when the Bucs kick ass.”

The Buccaneers relocated their players, coaches and some of their families to the South Florida area and have been practicing at the Miami Dolphins’ facility.

Wide receiver Mike Evans stated he hoped the Bucs could be a “bright spot” after everything the region has gone through this week.

“I definitely wanted to be at the home,” Evans said Thursday. “I’m happy I get to go out there and entertain and it’s a blessing and I don’t take it for granted. I know we’re going through a tough time right now, so hopefully we can be a bright spot during this time.”

The Glazer family, which owns the Buccaneers, will donate $1 million to assist relief efforts, it was announced. The team said the money will be given to “organizations that are providing support to those who have been most impacted by the storm in Southwest Florida and throughout the state.”

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UFC closes off Saturday’s card at Apex facility to media, public

The UFC has closed off Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card at its Apex facility in Las Vegas to the public as well as the media.

The company declined to provide a reason for the closure at the time of the announcement earlier this week, but UFC president Dana White stated Tuesday that he just wanted to give the media “a night off.”

However, women’s strawweight contender Mackenzie Dern, who is fighting in Saturday’s main event, told reporters Wednesday that the reason behind the closure is Meta chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg.

Speaking at a media day Wednesday in Las Vegas, Dern (12-2), who is scheduled to face China’s Yan Xiaonan (15-3), provided her understanding that the closure is linked to Zuckerberg.

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“I know Mark Zuckerberg rented out the whole event,” Dern said. “I know he’ll be there, but I don’t know if it’s literally him, his wife or if he’ll have friends — some type of party. But from someone who wanted a main event with a crowd, [it’s now] going to be very, very private.”

Dern added: “I’m excited. That just makes me more driven to put on a good show. I know everyone is watching on TV, but for Mark and whoever is going to be there, put on a show. If that’s what they want to see, is a show, then we’re going to give a show.”

White took to Twitter later Wednesday and denied that Zuckerberg has rented out the Apex facility.

Earlier this week, the UFC alerted its regular media members that there would be no press credentials issued for Saturday’s card. The event is also closed to public tickets.

The UFC has still not mentioned on the matter other than White, who maintained Tuesday there is “no big secret” behind the decision.

Zuckerberg, 38, is a known fan of mixed martial arts and even made headlines earlier this month when he posted video of himself doing MMA drills.

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Los Angeles Chargers star LB Joey Bosa to have surgery, goes on IR

Los Angeles Chargers edge rusher Joey Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater were placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

Bosa suffered a groin tear in the first quarter of Sunday’s 38-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“It’s a tough loss for our defense,” safety Derwin James Jr. stated. “But it’s on us to have his back and hold things down until he gets situated.”

Bosa, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, will undergo surgery, but coach Brandon Staley said it’s anticipated that he will return this season.

“It’s going to be a ways, but we expect him to come back,” Staley said. “He’s optimistic and ready to attack it. He’s in a really good frame of mind. It’s never easy when you have an injury like that.”

The Chargers are 1-2 as they prepare for back-to-back road matches at Houston (0-2-1) and Cleveland (2-1).

In Bosa’s absence, second-year pro Chris Rumph II and veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy are expected to step in. In Slater’s absence, the Bolts will turn to rookie Jamaree Salyer.

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“He’s ready to play on the edge,” Staley said of Rumph, who will line up opposite Khalil Mack.

Staley also emphasized that flexibility and depth were among key motives in the offseason signing of Van Noy, who has the ability to play inside or outside linebacker.

The Bolts also claimed outside linebacker Derrek Tuszka off waivers Tuesday to provide depth.

Bosa has 1.5 sacks in three games this campaign. He has 59.5 sacks in seven seasons.

At left tackle, Slater tore his left biceps tendon in a loss to the Jaguars, causing him to undergo season-ending surgery.

Salyer, a sixth-round pick, played left tackle in his final two seasons at Georgia, where he helped the Bulldogs attain a national championship last January.

“What we’re trying to do is keep the sides the same, keep continuity,” Staley said. “For us, we feel like that is the best option for us going into this game plan.”

“It means a lot to me that my coaches and teammates believe in me enough to give me the opportunity,” said Salyer, who becomes the second rookie to start on the line this season, along with right guard Zion Johnson, the 17th overall pick last April.

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FIA approve three more sprint sessions in F1 calendar from 2023

Six Formula One grands prix from the 2023 season onwards will have sprint sessions after the governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), on Tuesday approved an increase from three events this year.

Sprint sessions have become highly popular with fans since it was introduced last year with qualifying taking place on Fridays and Saturday’s short sprint race deciding the grid for Sunday’s main race as well as awarding additional points.

The 2022 season has had sprint sessions at the Emilia Romagna and Austrian Grands Prix, with the Sao Paulo Grand Prix set to host the final one.

The FIA added next year’s additions will be confirmed in due course.

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“The sprint provides action across three days with the drivers all fighting for something right from the start on Friday through to the main event on Sunday — adding more drama and excitement to the weekend,” F1 President and CEO Stefano Domenicali stated.

“The feedback from the fans, teams, promoters, and partners has been very positive and the format is adding a new dimension to Formula 1, and we all want to ensure its success in the future.”

Earlier this year, Formula One teams had agreed to double the number of sprint events to six in 2023 at a meeting in April before it was sent for approval by the FIA who sought to evaluate the proposal. Azerbaijan’s promoter also stated they want its Grand Prix in Baku to be one of six proposed Sprint weekends next season.

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New York Giants lose top receiver Sterling Shepard to torn ACL

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in Monday night’s game versus the Dallas Cowboys, coach Brian Daboll stated Tuesday.

The injury will end his season and perhaps his time with the Giants. Shepard, the longest-tenured player on the team, is in the final year of a restructured deal he signed this offseason off a torn left Achilles.

“He’s a tremendous person. He’s worked so diligently to get back,” Daboll said. “Feel so terrible for him that he’s had that injury. Big part of our team. Going to miss him out on that field.”

The Giants plan to look internally for Kadarius Toney (hamstring), Wan’Dale Robinson (knee) and the struggling Kenny Golladay to fill the void. Shepard was serving as the team’s No. 1 receiver.

The noncontact injury happened in the final minutes of New York’s 23-16 loss to Dallas. It came on a seemingly innocuous play where Shepard was simply jogging near the right sideline when he crumbled to the ground. “I’m thinking the same thing as you watch it. He’s just slowing down,” Daboll said.

“It could have happened, I’m not saying it happened, but you see a couple plays before where he kind of turns when he’s running an in-cut and he’s extended. But he went out there on the next play and did something. Again, kind of looked like a freaky accident there.”

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This latest odd injury to Shepard only exacerbates the turf vs. grass debate.

“I know there have been a lot of studies. Not just here but probably in every stadium,” Daboll said on Tuesday. “I think, again, you look at Shep’s injury, he was jogging. I’m sure throughout the season and the offseason we’ll sit down and discuss those types of things.”

The turf at MetLife Stadium in particular has been the subject of some complaints in the past, including by the San Francisco 49ers after five players suffered game-ending lower-body injuries in the same game versus the New York Jets during the 2020 season. The knee injuries suffered by Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas were season-ending.

Most recently, the Baltimore Ravens weren’t happy after cornerback Kyle Fuller tore an ACL there in a game versus the Jets in Week 1.

“Everybody in this league should do everything they can to put the best surface out there. How much is invested in the players who go out there and play, and our league really is a player-driven league, and we want those guys to have the best of the best, especially surfaces to play on,” coach John Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh added about the MetLife field surface: “That turf was matted down, it was packed down, it was a little tight. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. I don’t know, but that’s what I saw. It was a little tough.”

The Ravens will play again at MetLife Stadium this season in Week 6 when they face the Giants.

The injury had Shepard’s close friend and former teammate Odell Beckham Jr. expressing his disgust with stadiums using turf over grass.

“Billions made off this game I can’t understand why we can’t play on grass,” he tweeted, also offering prayers for Shepard.

Shepard was cleared to practice late this summer after tearing his left Achilles last December. He leads the Giants with 154 receiving yards through three matches. He has also played the most snaps (157) of all the team’s receivers.

The injury occurred on the Giants’ final offensive play Monday night. The result of the play was essentially a game-ending interception by Dallas’ Trevon Diggs. Shepard limped onto the cart and players from both teams came over to offer words of encouragement. The Giants (2-1) move forward now hoping to get either Toney or Robinson back this week. Both missed Monday night’s game due to injury.

Robinson, the Giants’ second-round pick in the 2022 draft out of Kentucky, was injured in the opener versus the Tennessee Titans. Toney, their first-round pick in 2021 out of Florida, recently aggravated the hamstring that plagued him this summer.

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‘Stronger’ Kawhi Leonard ready to start training camp with rest of LA Clippers this week

Kawhi Leonard stated he “definitely got a lot stronger” after a season off and is ready to start training camp when the LA Clippers open practice on Tuesday.

In his first comments since media day prior to last season, Leonard said he is good to go for camp — which opens in Las Vegas — after missing all of last season due to a torn right ACL.

“Plan is tomorrow to start training camp,” Leonard said at Clippers media day before the team flew to Las Vegas. “For me individually, I’ll be participating in training camp. Then from there, just seeing how my progression is, how I feel, what I’m not feeling, is it moving correctly, and just keep going from there, just gradually building up.

“But right now, I feel good, and the plan is to start camp and play.”

Leonard is cleared to fully participate, but the Clippers will be cautious with their franchise star, who hasn’t played since tearing his right ACL in Game 4 of the second round versus the Utah Jazz on June 14, 2021.

“I feel stronger, for sure,” Leonard said. “It’s been, what, 14, 15 months of no basketball — well, playing in an NBA season for me, no basketball. That whole 13-, 14-month process is just lifting weights and getting stronger. I definitely got a lot stronger.”

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The two-time NBA Finals MVP said he isn’t sure how different of a player he will be once he returns to the court.

“Right now I feel good in my workouts, weightlifting,” Leonard said. “I don’t feel like I have a subconscious mind of not jumping off my leg per se. I feel good. We’ll just see how the season goes.

“And can’t really tell you how that’s going to work out.”

The Clippers have assembled perhaps the deepest team in the NBA.

Head coach Ty Lue could go 11 to 12 players deep on his roster, which is loaded with interchangeable veteran wings who can play both ways. And there are championship expectations on the Clippers and owner Steve Ballmer, who was walking around the team facility at media day on Monday.

In addition to Leonard and star guard Paul George, the Clippers have Norman Powell, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac, Nic Batum, Terance Mann, Robert Covington and Luke Kennard.

“I think really that mindset of Team USA,” George said of how the Clippers might approach using their depth. “You take the best guys, and of course everybody is good and they’re all on teams, everybody is the star of their own teams. But when you put us all together, it’s how do I make you better now and how do I shine with this environment.”

“It should be a lot of fun with this team,” George added. “And should be a lot of good nights being a Clipper fan.”

Lue stated he did not know yet exactly how much Leonard will practice or play in the preseason but that it was good to know that he is feeling good again and the team will listen to how Leonard is feeling daily.

Leonard says he is ready to get back on the court, something he thinks possibly could have happened late last season if the Clippers had gone deep into the postseason. Leonard laughed after entertaining that notion. The Clippers, though, failed to make it out of the play-in tournament.

“I mean, it’s all woulda, coulda, shoulda right?” Leonard said when asked if he could have returned had the Clippers made the postseason. “But yeah, if they would have made it to the Finals last year, you would have seen me playing.”

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Los Angeles Chargers LT Rashawn Slater (torn biceps) out for season, LB Joey Bosa (groin) week-to-week

Left tackle Rashawn Slater and edge rusher Joey Bosa are among the Los Angeles Chargers players who suffered significant injuries in a lopsided Week 3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Slater will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his left biceps tendon and Bosa will be sidelined indefinitely because of a groin injury, as per coach Brandon Staley.

“It’s going to be a tough loss for us,” Staley said about Slater, the Bolts’ 13th overall pick in 2021 who earned Pro Bowl recognition as a rookie last season. “We’re going to make sure over the next couple of days that we put good contingency plans in place.”

Staley stated he was unclear if Bosa would be placed on injured reserve. “He’ll probably be week-to-week,” Staley said. Wide receiver Jalen Guyton also will be sidelined for the remainder of the season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament late in the fourth quarter.

“It’s a tough one, he was playing a good game,” Staley said of Guyton, a fourth-year pro who in a reserve role had two catches for 64 yards.

Storm Norton, who lost a training camp competition with Trey Pipkins III for the right tackle job, took over at left tackle when Slater left the game in the third quarter. Veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy and edge rusher Chris Rumph II took over for Bosa.

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With the 38-10 loss to the Jaguars, the Chargers fell to 1-2, and now prepare for back-to-back road match at Houston and Cleveland.

Staley expressed confidence that despite losing multiple key players, several other starters who have been dealing with injury issues, including quarterback Justin Herbert, were holding steady, if not improving.

“Not setbacks at the game,” Staley stated of Herbert, who completed 25 of 45 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown, with an interception and lost sack fumble, while playing through fractured rib cartilage suffered 10 days earlier.

A day removed from leaving Herbert in the game late in the fourth quarter, down 20 points, Staley would not go so far as to say he regretted leaving the Pro Bowl quarterback in the game, but indicated that moving forward, a different decision would be made.

“It definitely was my decision to keep him out there,” Staley said, adding later, “If I had to do it again or if I have to do it again, I need to make sure that I communicate to Justin [that] in a tough circumstance like that when you’re behind, that you’ve already done enough. I look forward to that next time, but in that moment, I don’t regret how we went through that together.”

Herbert told reporters after the game he stayed in the game because he “just didn’t want to quit on the team.”

Staley said that Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley, who was inactive Sunday because of a knee issue, was improving and expressed optimism that he would return to practice, along with receiver Keenan Allen, who has been sidelined the last two games because of a hamstring injury.

And Staley provided some clarification in regard to the situation surrounding cornerback J.C. Jackson, their marquee offseason free agent acquisition. Jackson underwent ankle surgery last month and was sidelined for the season opener, but played 100% of the snaps in Week 2 before he was inactive again Sunday.

Staley said Jackson had “inflammation” inside his ankle, but that there was “nothing structural.” “Just making sure that he doesn’t go out there and have something else happen,” Staley said. “There was just some inflammation that we were taking a look at and again, just being cautious looking at the long term.”

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UFC lightweight Bobby Green disappointed after positive drug test

Popular UFC lightweight Bobby Green stated in an Instagram video Friday night that he was forced out of a scheduled fight at UFC 276 due to a positive drug test.

Green said — as he was in training camp for the scheduled July 2 fight versus fellow veteran fighter Jim Miller — that he received a call from the UFC informing him he had tested positive for a banned substance. Green said he believes the adverse finding came from a dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplement he was taking.

DHEA is a banned substance in the UFC’s anti-doping policy, which is administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), under the anabolic category. USADA, in a statement to ESPN, confirmed Green’s “adverse analytical finding,” which the agency was able to do because Green made it public first.

USADA does not typically announce anti-doping policy violations until the conclusion of its adjudication process. USADA did not comment on the substance found nor any discipline. Green said he knew he could face a longer suspension by coming forward with the information before USADA and the UFC announced it, but he wanted to be open with his fans.

Green could face up to a two-year suspension for testing positive for such a prohibited drug, though a full, two-year suspension is uncommon in these situations.

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Green stated DHEA was recommended by a doctor he frequently watches on YouTube, and his wife bought the supplement from the company Spring Valley at Walmart. In the video, Green apologized for his mistake, said he has never tested positive before in 14 years as a professional MMA fighter and is vehemently against performance-enhancing drug use.

“I’m crushed,” Green said. “I’m like what the f—? I had no idea, guys, what I was doing, that it was wrong, that there was any benefits to what I was doing. I would never try to cheat. I would never try to lie to my public. I’m against drugs, I’m against PEDs.”

Green stated he had purchased multiple all-natural supplements recommended by Dr. Eric Berg, a doctor with more than 8.5 million YouTube subscribers. Green said he’s a “hoarder” of pills, and is willing to try anything for his physical and mental health, provided the pills are “all natural.” He said he earnestly did not know DHEA was a banned substance.

“It’s not USADA’s fault; it’s my fault,” Green said. “I did wrong in this. I f—ed up and I’m taking responsibility. … I don’t want any way to cheat. I do not want any edge that’s not natural over any of my opponents. I believe my skills should pay the bills.”

Green (29-13-1) was coming off a UFC Fight Night loss on short notice versus top contender Islam Makhachev in February. Prior to that, the California native was on a two-fight winning streak and had won five of seven overall. Green, 36, has been in the UFC since 2013, compiling a 10-8-1 record.

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New York Yankees not worried about Aaron Judge’s mental or physical state in his quest for 62 home runs

Aaron Judge has been a mainstay in the New York Yankees’ lineup all season as he keep to put up numbers that could define his MVP-caliber 2022 season as one of the best ever.

Manager Aaron Boone, however, isn’t concern about the mental or physical state of his All-Star outfielder before the playoffs while he is steeped in the chase for home run history.

Judge is one home run from tying Roger Maris’ American League single-season record of 61, but he has played in 45 consecutive matches — he also played 47 straight earlier this season. In total, he has played 147 of the Yankees’ 151 games, and he has 73 starts in center field, which is a career high.

“Hopefully, we can continue to kind of stack up some wins here and put ourselves in a position to where, in the last week, [we can] rest,” Boone said before Saturday’s 7-5 win, in which Judge went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts versus the Boston Red Sox.

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“Paying attention to not just Aaron, but to all the guys and what their needs are. I feel like [Judge] is in a good spot, as fresh as you can be mentally. I don’t think this has been something that’s worn him down. Because if I felt like it was, and he needed a day, I would give it to him.”

Boone stated Judge has benefited not only from the rest days built into the schedule of late — the Yankees had three days off during their latest road trip — but noted that Judge’s physical conditioning and durability are better than last year.

“That’s a unique part of the schedule that I think served [Judge] and us well,” Boone said. “But coupled with the fact that, I think, this year, more than last year where he remained remarkably healthy, there were still days where I knew he was a little beat up and felt like he needed something. It’s been a little cleaner throughout. There were some true strategic [days off] early in the middle of the year around some off days that hopefully served him well.”

Boone stated Judge’s chase for history hasn’t worn him down mentally, either.

“I don’t think it has taken that mental toll, because you are always paying attention to that with players,” Boone said. “Sometimes you feel like a guy does need a break. I haven’t felt that to be the case [with Judge].

“I think it’s the evolution of him. He’s done a better job knowing he doesn’t have to do everything every day. He knows how to preserve and save some bullets, especially when you get into the second half of the season and some of the dog days. He’s really learned how to prepare and understanding that, especially physically, that less is more a lot of times.”

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