Category Archives: Sports

Rafael Devers joins Red Sox for summer camp

Rafael Devers didn’t work out with his teammates at Fenway Park for the first week of summer camp because the Red Sox feared he had been exposed to COVID-19.

After three tests came up negative, however, Devers was cleared to return and joined his teammates at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for live batting practice.

He had been working out at Boston College with other possible positive cases, manager Ron Roenicke said, out of an abundance of caution.

“We had some guys that were possibly exposed to somebody with coronavirus,” Roenicke said via Zoom on Wednesday.

“This group has tested negative three times. We will continue to test them, just because we’re being overly cautious. That’s kind of why we’ve separated some of the guys from the later workouts.”

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Devers hopes to bat in Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage, Roenicke said, because he’s eager to lock in his timing at the plate versus big league pitching.

If all goes well, he’d likely play third base in Friday’s scrimmage.

“He’s concerned about seeing velocity,” Roenicke stated. “We were able to do that over there with him with the pitching machine in the cage. He’ll do that again and see live BP today, which is helpful, and then if he’s ready for a couple of at-bats, we’ll have him in the intrasquad tomorrow.”

Added Roenicke: “I know with him, he’s a little concerned, because he’s trying to catch up and make sure he’s getting all the work in that he needs.”

There’s no overstating Devers’ significance to the lineup after a breakout 2019 in which he hit .311 with 32 homers, 115 RBIs, and a league-leading 54 doubles and 359 total bases. With Mookie Betts in Los Angeles, Devers is expected to be one of the driving forces in the lineup, alongside Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.

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Short handed Nets reach deal with veteran guard Jamal Crawford

When the Brooklyn Nets boarded their plane out of New York on Tuesday, there were only 12 healthy players on board. But reinforcements are coming. Jamal Crawford is signing with the Nets for the remainder of the season, league sources told ESPN.

Crawford, 40, will fill one of the Nets’ three vacant substitute roster spots. Crawford is qualified to be signed after Brooklyn had three players — Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince — test positive for the coronavirus.

All three have been ruled out for the campaign restart in Orlando, Florida. Wilson Chandler, citing familial obligations, also did not make the trip. The team signed forward Justin Anderson in his place.

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Now the Nets have two roster spots available to be filled.

According to NBA rules, Crawford could fly or drive to Florida. If he hasn’t been tested regularly since June 23 — when the league started testing players every other day — he will need to quarantine and be tested every day for a week in Orlando before he will be eligible to join his new teammates on the court.

Crawford hasn’t played in the NBA in the 2019-20 season. He most recently played for the Phoenix Suns and scored 51 points in the last match he played in 2019. The 20-year veteran has averaged 14.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game over the course of his career.

The Nets arrived in Orlando on Tuesday as one of the 22 NBA teams listed to resume games on July 30. They are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of the Orlando Magic, who currently hold the final playoff spot.

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Masahiro Tanaka returns to Yankee Stadium only two days after taking 112 mph liner to head

The Yankees had their Sunday brightened by Masahiro Tanaka, who came to the ballpark and seemed well a day after being hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive.

They’re hoping Yankee Stadium’s lights will do the same this week.

Encouraged by Tanaka’s progress after Saturday’s scare, the Yankees are planning to hold intrasquad night games Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx as they prepare for the July 23 start of a 60-game regular season condensed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 7 p.m. scrimmages will both air on YES Network, giving fans at least a couple of live looks at the defending AL East champions this summer. Left-hander J.A. Happ is expected to start against young righty Clarke Schmidt on Monday, and new ace Gerrit Cole — signed to a $324 million, nine-year free agent deal last winter — is set to pitch Tuesday.

New York has also been working to calendar exhibition matches in the next 2 1/2 weeks with other clubs, possibly the Mets, but nothing has been formalized. “We’re putting a premium on live reps as much as we can,” manager Aaron Boone said.

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Sunday’s second day of summer camp certainly went smoother than the first. The opener carried a somber feel after Stanton’s comebacker drilled Tanaka in the right side of his head in the third at-bat of the session.

Left-hander James Paxton said Sunday that Stanton’s shot was measured at 112 mph (180 kph).

Tanaka was released from the hospital Saturday night after a CT scan came back negative, and he is in concussion protocol. Boone is cautiously optimistic Tanaka could be ready by opening day.

“I think all the signs are pointing that he really dodged a bullet there,” Boone stated.

All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman and catcher Gary Sanchez took the field Sunday after missing Saturday’s workout. They arrived in New York a day later than teammates due to travel issues and had to wait for results from intake virus testing.

Chapman threw a bullpen, and Sanchez took live at-bats against Paxton, who looked sharp in his first simulated game of this camp.

Paxton is ramping up following back surgery in February that would have cost him much of the campaign if not for the delay.

The big left-hander walked Sanchez to start, then struck out Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade and Sanchez successively. It was an encouraging sign for a club already without starter Luis Severino for the year due to Tommy John surgery and now facing questions about Tanaka’s availability.

“I had no problem with the back,” Paxton said. “Everything felt really good.”

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Browns DE Vernon restructures contract, will get $11 million guaranteed in 2020

The Cleveland Browns have renegotiated defense end Olivier Vernon’s contract, an unnamed source told ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.

Vernon was set to make $15.25 million, non-guaranteed, in 2020.

Now, Vernon gets $11 million guaranteed through a $7 million signing bonus, $3.75 million in base salary and a $250,000 workout bonus, according to Yates.

Vernon, 29, is also entitled for $2 million more in incentives.

There were reports earlier this offseason of the Browns’ interest in signing free agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney, 27, and Griffen, 32, remain free agents as of Tuesday morning.

However, OverTheCap.com showed the Browns had $37.27 million left in cap space before renegotiating Vernon’s deal.

It means the Browns still could add either Clowney or Griffen and keep Vernon.

At the same time, the Browns likely need to let some of the salary cap space roll over to next offseason to offer Garrett a contract extension.

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Garrett, 24, is entering his fourth season in the league and is due to make $4.61 million this season.

The Browns already picked up Garrett’s fifth-year option in 2021, which is worth $15.18 million.

In the offseason, Pro Football Focus reporter Ben Linsey ranked Garrett and Vernon as the second-best edge defender duo in the NFL.

In 2019, Vernon played in 10 matches, compiling 26 tackles, four tackles for a loss, 11 quarterback hits and a career-low 3.5 sacks.

Pro Football Focus graded Vernon as the Browns’ third-highest graded pass rusher.

Vernon missed three games after injuring his knee during a Week 9 loss to the Denver Broncos.

In Week 13 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vernon played only 10 snaps before missing three more games.

Vernon played in the regular-season finale versus the Cincinnati Bengals.

Injuries forced Vernon to miss time during the last three seasons, playing in 11 games for the Giants in 2018 and 12 games in 2017.

However, Vernon did not miss a game during his first five seasons in the league from 2012-2016. Headed into the 2020 season, Vernon is entering the final year of his contract after the Browns acquired him in a trade with the New York Giants.

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Chiefs Patrick Mahomes agree to 10 year contract extension

Patrick Mahomes, a year removed from his first league MVP award and just four months after leading the Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl LIV, is about to cash in on his early success. Mahomes, the first player in league history to win league and Super Bowl MVP honors before his 25th birthday, has come to terms on a 10-year deal with the Chiefs, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The contract is reportedly the richest deal in NFL history. Also, per Schefter, Mahomes’ 10-year extension is worth $450 million with a $140 million injury guarantee. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reports Mahomes’ 10-year extension will be guided by a mechanism that ensures the quarterback’s annual salary never drops below certain cap thresholds — in other words it will always be above a certain percentage of the NFL’s salary cap.

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It is unusual to see a contract extension of this length  — and with those clauses and parameters — but it’s also rare to see a quarterback accomplish what Mahomes has this few years into his career. Back in January, CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported that the Chiefs were formulating to offer Mahomes a record-setting contract that would pay him at least $40 million a season.

The 10th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Mahomes was entering the final original year of his four-year, $16.4 million rookie contract.

The Chiefs did pick up his fifth-year option back in April.  Had Mahomes played under his fifth-year option in 2021, he would have made $24,837,000, according to CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. Mahomes is now slated to join the list of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks.

In terms of annual salary, Russell Wilson currently holds the title as the league’s highest-paid quarterback, receiving an annual salary fo $35 million. The league’s other top-paid passers involve Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Jared Goff ($33.5 million), Kirk Cousins ($33 million), Carson Wentz ($32 million), Dak Prescott ($31.4 million) and Matt Ryan ($30 million), according to Over the Cap. 

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WBC orders Luke Campbell-Ryan Garcia fight for interim lightweight title

The WBC has ordered a fight between Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia for the organization’s interim lightweight title.

This occasion became available after the WBC’s top-rated lightweight, Javier Fortuna, opted to face Jorge Linares on Aug. 28. Campbell and Garcia are ranked second and third by the WBC, respectively.

“I’m finally getting to fight a southpaw my favorite fighters to fight! Bring it on luke Campbell,” Garcia wrote on Twitter. The entire WBC lightweight title scenario is a bit of a quagmire. The WBC “franchise” champion is Vasiliy Lomachenko, the organization’s regular champion is Devin Haney, and Fortuna-Linares will be contested for the WBC’s “Diamond” title.

It’s not clear just how this will ultimately be cleared up, or if the winner of Campbell-Garcia will face any of the other champions in the foreseeable future.

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While it’s an enticing matchup on paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this fight is destined to happen.

Both sides must come to an agreement, and recently Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) and his promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, have been at odds. The popular young prizefighter was arranged to kick off Golden Boy’s return to action on July 4, but was unable to come to terms.

It has become a very public spat between the two parties, who are meeting later this week, according to Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions.

“We just got the letter today [from the WBC], so we’re in the process of talking to Ryan,” Gomez said. “We’re going to talk to his team, we’re going to see what he wants to do.

“That’s one of the guys he’s said repeatedly that he wants to fight,” Gomez said regarding Campbell.

First and foremost, it seems as though the relationship between Garcia and Golden Boy has to be mended. “We’re meeting with team Ryan later this week, most likely Friday,” Gomez said.

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Cleveland TE David Njoku asks Browns for trade

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku has demanded a trade before training camp, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday.

“It is in David’s best interest to find a new team at this time,” Njoku’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said, via Schefter. Training camps starts July 28.

The Browns would like to keep him, per the report. The team exercised Njoku’s fifth-year option in April, keeping him under contract through the 2021 campaign.

The news, however, reportedly wasn’t shocking to the Browns. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the team has known for about a year that he has been unhappy in Cleveland.

Njoku, who turns 24 next Friday, missed most of the 2019 season with a broken wrist and a concussion. The former first-round draft pick out of Miami has 93 receptions, 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns in 36 matches with the Browns. He started 14 of 16 games in 2018, his second season, and caught 56 passes for 639 yards with four touchdowns.

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It may be in Njoku’s “best interest” to leave because of who joined the team.

Cleveland added Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper in the offseason, reportedly agreeing to a deal minutes into the so-called legal tampering period. They agreed to a four-year, $42 million deal that made him the NFL’s highest paid at the position.

Then in the 2020 NFL draft, the team selected tight end Harrison Bryant out of Florida Atlantic in the fourth round.

Stefanski has said he has formations including three tight ends! Njoku is with a coach who is close to being obsessed with the position.

A healthy Njoku in the proper frame of mind is with an offense where he could have a huge season.

Njoku has to realize Berry was part of the 2017 Sashi Brown front office that traded up into the first round to grab him with the 29th pick. Berry was a significant talent evaluator for that front office and has a stake in Njoku playing well. It’s part of the reason the 2021 option was picked up. Berry thinks the 24 year old can play, period.

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Usman vs Masvidal agree to UFC 251

It will still take clearing some legitimate hurdles to reach the finish line, but according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal have completed negotiations and agreed to terms for a last-minute bout to serve as the main event of Saturday’s UFC 251 card in Abu Dhabi. 

With the new UFC 251 main event now essentially being cleared on paper, both warriors will undergo COVID-19 testing in Las Vegas and immediately enter quarantine while awaiting the results. Should Usman and Masvidal both test negative, then they will be en route to Abu Dhabi as soon as possible from there. With 48 career fights under his belt, Masvidal would serve as the fighter with the most MMA appearances before receiving his first title shot. 

Shortly after the news of the agreement broke, UFC president Dana White posted a hype video to Twitter which seemingly confirmed that he was able to secure the new blockbuster main event. 

The inaugural Fight Island card saw its original headliner fall apart Saturday when top contender Gilbert Burns pulled out of a shot at Usman’s title after testing positive for COVID-19.

Masvidal, the ceremonial BMF champion, was the opponent UFC initially targeted for Usman before negotiations went sideways and Masvidal started a public protest over fighter pay. 

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Masvidal (35-13) spent his July 4th holiday undergoing the first of what would be multiple coronavirus tests while negotiating the fight, per photos released on social media by his manager, Malki Kawa.

The 35-year-old brawler rose from journeyman status in 2019 with a trio of stoppage victories which earned him global fame and Fighter of the Year honors. 

Among the major hurdles facing the proposed fight are the logistics of how the fighters would safely arrive in the United Arab Emirates amid quarantine protocols in such a last-minute scenario.

Usman (16-1) did not board a chartered UFC flight which carried fighters, trainers, media and promotional personnel upon hearing the news of Burns (19-3) pulling out. 

In the event the fight does not take place, the original co-main event of featherweight champion Alexaner Volkanovski taking on former titleholder Max Holloway in a rematch would take top billing. The card also contains a vacant bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and former featherweight king Jose Aldo. 

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Pacers’ Oladipo to sit out restart of NBA season

Indiana Pacers star Victor Oladipo has decided not to play when the 2019-20 NBA season resumes at Disney World in Orlando later this month. Oladipo tore his quad tendon last season, and made his return in late January, just about six weeks before play was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result of his health situation, Oladipo told The Athletic in an interview that he just doesn’t feel comfortable returning to play under these circumstances. However, he will still travel with the team. 

The good news is that this isn’t the result of any sort of setback during the quarantine. Both Oladipo and the Pacers consider he is healthy and progressing well, they just think returning to play under these stressful and unique conditions is not worth the risk. Especially considering that players who suffer the same injury as Oladipo are more susceptible to soft tissue injuries in the ensuing years. 

“This kind of injury takes a while to get back from,” Oladipo’s physical therapist said. “This is a very rare injury. He’s playing this smart and we look at it as: He came back, he got into rotation, he got a feel for the game and his knee really responded well — and we had to shut this whole thing down from the pandemic. We haven’t been able to play five-on-five yet due to circumstances. Now we’re asking guys to ramp up in 21 days. That’s just a real short time window for a person with his kind of injury.”

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Heading into Orlando, there are all sorts of health concerns, mostly related to the coronavirus pandemic — and for good reason, as cases are surging, and we still don’t fully understand the long-term effects of the illness. However, the potential for augmented risk of injuries is a serious issue as well. 

Most players were not able to train like they normally do over the past few months, and will now be required to ramp up into a training camp situation, then high-intensity games in a rather short amount of time. For guys like Oladipo who are already dealing with the effects of a serious injury, it makes sense to take the long-term approach. 

From a basketball perspective, this is obviously a big hit to the Pacers’ probabilities of making some noise in the East.

They were actually a bit worse with Oladipo on the court (minus-2.6 net rating differential) in the 13 games since he returned, and he hadn’t quite found his rhythm. But that was a small sample size after he just returned from a year off, and he’s by far their most talented player. 

Now, they’ll have to play in Orlando without him. Heading into the restart they are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for fifth place in the Eastern Conference at 39-26, and while they are still within striking distance of the Miami Heat for the fourth seed, getting there doesn’t matter as much with no homecourt advantage anymore. 

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Investors call on Nike, FedEx, PepsiCo to cut ties with Redskins over name

In order to get Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to pay attention to the ongoing calls for him to change the name of his NFL team, investors in major companies that have relationships with the franchise want to hit him in the wallet.

According to Adweek, letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a collective $620 billion were distributed to Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo last week. Each of the three separate letters asked the companies to end their business relationships with Washington’s football franchise unless it changes its team name.

PepsiCo recently made the decision to sunset the Aunt Jemima brand, so there is some precedent for the company taking meaningful steps toward making real change.

Carla Fredericks, the director of First Peoples Worldwide and head of the University of Colorado Law School’s American Indian Law Clinic, told Adweek she was pleased to see shareholders in Fortune 500 companies like FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo realize the potential power they wield to shape change.

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“I’m very encouraged by the rising awareness of how every dollar you spend is a vote you cast on your values,” Fredericks said. “And that applies to money you have in investments as well as any brands you support. Anyone that has a simple stock portfolio with an index fund owns a share of these companies.”

Former NFL coach and current NBC broadcaster Tony Dungy also newly shared his method of encouraging Washington’s team name to be changed.

“When I’m on the air, I try to just refer to them as Washington. I think it’s appropriate,” Dungy said. “If the team doesn’t want to change, the least I can do is try not to use it. You can say, ‘This has been a historic name and we’ve used it for this team for X number of years, but in this day and age, it’s offensive to some people, so we’re going to change it.’ I don’t think that’s hard.” Snyder, Washington’s owner since 1999, said as recently as 2013 that he does not plan to ever alter the team’s name.

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