Category Archives: Sports

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas has thumb surgery, to miss at least 4 weeks

Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas is slated to miss at least four weeks after suffering a dislocated left thumb.

According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Valanciunas underwent surgery on the injury, and his condition will be updated when the cast comes off in four weeks.

Valanciunas suffered the injury during Wednesday’s 113-93 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The 26-year-old big man has been a significant part of Toronto’s success this season, as he is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting a career-best 57.5 percent from the field.

Valanciunas played just eight minutes before leaving Wednesday’s game, but he was having a major impact with six points and seven rebounds.

While Valanciunas has been more effective than ever on a per-minute basis this season, he has taken on a different role.

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After starting in each of his six NBA seasons, he has made just 10 starts in 30 games this season. He is also playing a career-low 18.8 minutes per game.

Toronto’s starting frontcourt has primarily been comprised of veteran Serge Ibaka and third-year Pascal Siakam.

Both Ibaka and Siakam are in line for even more usage, while veteran center Greg Monroe figures to take on the bulk of Valanciunas’ minutes until he is able to return.

While Monroe was a constant double-double threat during his time with the Detroit Pistons, he is averaging just 3.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game this season in 13 appearances.

At 23-7, the Raptors have built up a 3.5-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed, which gives them some margin for error while Valanciunas is out.

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Carson Wentz has fractured vertebra

Eagles QB Carson Wentz has been dealing with back issues all season, and after undergoing a battery of tests earlier this week, he apparently has been diagnosed with a fractured vertebra. ESPN’s Adam Schefter got the scoop, and the injury seems like it will probably keep him out at least this weekend against the Rams, if not much longer.

Doug Pederson has been vague about Wentz’s status all week, and it turns out the “tightness” and “soreness” are far more serious than originally thought.

The injury won’t require surgery—it’s just a matter of rest apparently—so all signs point to the 6-7 Eagles shutting down Wentz for the rest of the season to allow him to fully heal up before next season. After all, he is coming back from a devastating knee injury and he never seemed fully right this year. The good news for Eagles fans is, Nick Foles is set to take over, and he only gets stronger as the playoffs approach.

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Schefter added there will be a “continued evaluation of his back to determine whether continuing to play this season would worsen the injury for the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback.”

Wentz has been prone to injuries dating back to his college days at North Dakota State. He missed eight weeks during his senior season with a broken wrist.

The 25-year-old tore his ACL against the Rams in Week 14 last year, missing Philadelphia’s run to the Super Bowl and the first two games of this season.

If Wentz has to miss time, Nick Foles will take over as the Eagles quarterback. He hasn’t played since Week 2, and he has thrown for 451 yards, one touchdown and one interception in two games in 2018.

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Mychal Kendricks done for season with broken tibia

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks broke his tibia during Seattle’s 21-7 win over the Vikings Monday night and will be out for the rest of the season, according to ESPN.

It’s a particularly tough blow for Kendricks, who was in his first game with the Seahawks after he served an eight-game suspension for insider trading.

Kendricks was with the Browns when he admitted to insider trading, which prompted his release. The Seahawks scooped him up from waivers, but had to wait out his suspension mandated by the NFL.

Kendricks, 28, could be sentenced to up to three years in prison, but he isn’t expected to be sentenced earlier than January. Until then, he was allowed to stay active on the Seahawks’ roster.

Coach Pete Carroll said he will need surgery for leg and knee issues and will be placed on injured reserve.

Kendricks started in Monday’s 21-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in place of the injured K.J. Wright (knee) after serving an eight-game suspension stemming from his guilty plea to insider trading charges. Carroll said Wright is still weeks from playing.

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The Cleveland Browns released Kendricks after he was charged and he signed with the Seahawks in September. The NFL originally suspended Kendricks indefinitely but announced an eight-game suspension after reviewing the matter.

He finishes his 2018 season with two sacks, 20 tackles and a pass defensed in four games with Seattle, including three starts.

He played his first six season with the Philadelphia Eagles but was released in May.

“I saw him on a handful of plays when he really had something to do,” Carroll said of Kendricks’ play. “I thought he was right where he was supposed to be a couple of times. He made some good tackles in the open field — forced a screen beautifully. He’s a really good football player. We’re excited to have him out there. I think he makes us better.”

Without Kendricks, the Seahwaks will likely turn back to Austin Calitro, who has been part of the committee Seattle has used at weak-side linebacker in Wright’s absence. Rookie Shaquem Griffin started the season opener in that spot.

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Celtics’ Al Horford diagnosed with left knee problem

The Boston Celtics are currently riding the wave of a six-game winning streak, but it sounds like they’ll be without the services of Al Horford for a few games due to a knee injury.

According to a report from ESPN, Horford has been diagnosed with patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee, which is a condition in which the cartilage under the kneecap is damaged due to injury or overuse.

Al Horford is likely to miss the next week of games after being diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee, Brad Stevens announced Wednesday morning.

Stevens, speaking to the media at Boston’s shootaround ahead of tonight’s matchup with the Wizards in D.C., said that the Celtics have dealt with similar injuries in the past and want to get Horford back to full strength before he returns to the lineup.

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“He’s going to be out a little bit, but not too long,” the coach stated. “Just to strengthen him and get him feeling a lot better – a little bit similar to [Marcus] Morris last year – and make sure that he feels great instead of going in and out like this.”

Horford is averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 34.1 percent from beyond the arc in 22 games this season. The big man last played against the New York Knicks on Dec. 6 when he scored 19 points and secured 12 rebounds. The 11-year veteran currently leads the team in boards and blocks (1.7) and has been a very consistent shooter for the team so far.

While not having Horford in the lineup isn’t a positive, the team does expect to have All-Star guard Kyrie Irving back after dealing with a sore right shoulder. Like Horford, Irving didn’t suit up in Monday’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans as Terry Rozier drew the start in his place.

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Blue jays release shortstop Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki’s Toronto Blue Jays career came to an abrupt and unexpected end Tuesday, as the team announced the release of the 34-year-old shortstop.

“Through many conversations with Troy and his representative Paul Cohen, and with consideration to what is in the best interest of both sides, we made the decision to release Troy today,” GM Ross Atkins said.

Tulowitzki, acquired initially with LaTroy Hawkins for Jesus Tinoco, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jose Reyes in July of 2015, last played in the major leagues in July 2017. He missed the end of the 2017 season with ankle injuries before missing the 2018 season recovering from surgery to remove bone spurs from both heels.

The Blue Jays will be responsible for the full amount remaining on Tulowitzki’s deal. He’s under contract for $20 million in 2019 and $14 million in 2020 with a $4 million buyout for a 2021 club option.

Atkins recently said the Blue Jays weren’t able to plan on a full and productive season from Tulowitzki.

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“Candidly, and I think Troy would agree, that’s not likely,” Atkins said Wednesday. “He will have to overachieve to play shortstop at an above-average level with above-average offensive performance for 140 games. That would be unlikely based on what has occurred in the last two and a half years, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to do it.

“But candidly,” the GM added, “I don’t think that’s likely.”

Tulowitzki, who expects to be healthy in time for spring training, has missed at least 30 games in seven straight seasons and eight of the past nine.

For his career, he has a .290 average, 224 home runs and 779 RBIs.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. projects as the Blue Jays’ regular shortstop with Richard Urena an additional depth option. Meanwhile, top prospect Bo Bichette is advancing through the minors and could reach the big leagues as soon as 2019.

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Vikings fire OC John DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings have fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo one day after a 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the team announced Tuesday.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been promoted to offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.

The loss dropped Minnesota to 6-6-1 on the season, giving it just a half-game lead for the second NFC wild-card spot.

Minnesota could only muster 276 total yards of offense against Seattle on Monday and did not get on the board until 70 seconds remained in the fourth quarter. At that point, the game was all but over at 21-7. The loss marked the second consecutive game in which the Vikings scored 10 points or fewer, both losses.

After the game, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen made it clear the offense’s struggles were not DeFilippo’s fault.

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“You hear the offensive coordinator is getting a lot of ridicule, but it’s about the players,” Thielen said, per the Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson. “The players have got to make the plays. It doesn’t matter what play is called, you have to run that play and you have to be successful on it. It just comes down to execution, all 11 players doing the right thing.”

But with their season on the line, the Vikings apparently decided a change was necessary to get the offense going again.

Per Tomasson, the Vikings entered November with the ninth-ranked offense in the NFL. Five games later, they rank 17th. That’s not what the team envisioned when it gave quarterback Kirk Cousins $84 million guaranteed during the offseason.

Minnesota will try to get back on track against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Vikings then wrap up the regular season with contests on the road against the Detroit Lions and at home against the Chicago Bears.

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Jordan Reed’s season in jeopardy following toe strain

Jordan Reed is in jeopardy of missing the rest of the season.

The Redskins tight end has a sprained big toe, coach Jay Gruden told reporters Monday, adding that there’s a “level of concern” about Reed’s availability for the final three games.

According to the Washington Post, Reed was diagnosed with a sprained foot and toe injury after being ruled out for the second half of Sunday’s matchup. He previously had surgery on both big toes during the offseason and was held out for most of the preseason, but was back to 100 percent by Week 1.

Reed, 28, is historically injury prone but has managed to remain unscathed this season — until now. He has yet to play a full 16-game season, with his most productive output coming in 2015 when he played a in career-high 14 games.

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The 2016 Pro Bowl selection has 54 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns this season.

Coach Jay Gruden said he was unsure how long the team would be without its most productive pass catcher, saying it could be one or two weeks or the remainder of the season. Reed had surgeries on both big toes during the offseason, but Gruden said this is a new issue.

“Yeah, there is a level of concern,” Gruden said. “It’s a pretty good strain on your big toe. Obviously, with the amount of cutting that he does, we’ll see if it’s one week, two weeks or the rest of the year. We’re not sure yet.”

The Redskins started tackles Ty Nsekhe and Austin Howard at their two guard positions on Sunday with Jonathan Cooper (torn biceps) and Austin Howard (knee/ankle) out with injuries. Cooper will not play for the rest of the year, and Gruden said Howard is likely to miss at least one more week despite taking off his walking boot Monday.

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49ers WR Pierre Garcon to undergo season-ending knee surgery

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon will miss the final three weeks of the 2018 regular season.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch reported Garcon will have arthroscopic surgery on his knee and go on injured reserve.

Garcon hasn’t played since San Francisco’s 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 9. He finishes the 2018 campaign with 24 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown in eight games.

By heading to IR, Garcon adds to a year in which injuries have been the dominant theme for the Niners.

Jerick McKinnon tore his ACL just before the regular season got underway, and then Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in the team’s Week 3 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. San Francisco also placed Brock Coyle on injured reserve in September and did the same with Jimmie Ward in November.

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At 3-10, the Niners are basically playing for draft position. There was little reason to rush Garcon’s return and risk doing further damage to his knee. San Francisco’s focus should be getting him healthy for 2019.

Garçon signed a five-year contract with the 49ers in the 2017 offseason. If released in 2019 before June 1st, the 49ers would carry $7.2 million in dead money per Over the Cap. If cut after the deadline, the hit is a bit less at $2.4 million. Despite the dead money, a release is a distinct possibility. Garçon will be 33 years old in 2019 and the 49ers have bolstered their wide receiver group the last two years with several undrafted free agent and draft pick signings. Dante Pettis in particular has begun to rise as a decent threat on the field and Kendrick Bourne has gotten more looks in Garçon’s absence.

A three-time All-Star during a 19-year career that ended in 1999, Davis replaces Pat Roessler, who was fired after Mickey Callaway’s first season as Mets manager.

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Hitting Coach Chili Davis hired by Mets

The Mets’ makeover of their coaching staff was completed Sunday, with three new hires announced.

Chili Davis became the new hitting coach, Chuck Hernandez assumed the role of bullpen coach and Luis Rojas filled a new position on the staff, quality control coach.

Davis, 58, is the most notable of the hires. The former Yankees outfielder was fired by the Cubs earlier this offseason, citing his inability to connect with the team’s “millennial” players. But Davis had a strong working relationship with Yoenis Cespedes when the two were together in Oakland, according to an industry source, and that may have contributed to his hiring. Davis was Oakland’s hitting coach before moving into the same role with the Red Sox and Cubs.

Davis becomes the third Mets hitting coach in as many seasons — Pat Roessler was fired last month, and his predecessor, Kevin Long, left to join the Nationals’ coaching staff after he was passed over for the managerial job when Mickey Callaway was hired.

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Dave Magadan and Rudy Jaramillo for the hitting coach vacancy, according to sources. Assistant hitting coach Tom Slater is returning to the staff in the same role.

Davis was hitting coach for Oakland manager Bob Melvin (2012-14) and Boston manager John Farrell (2015-2017) before moving to the Cubs under manager Joe Maddon.

Davis was fired in October. The Cubs were was 22nd among the 30 teams with 167 home runs and 13th with a .410 slugging percentage despite a .258 batting average that was third behind Boston and Cleveland.

A three-time All-Star during a 19-year career that ended in 1999, Davis replaces Pat Roessler, who was fired after Mickey Callaway’s first season as Mets manager.

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Chargers RB Austin Ekeler aggravates neck injury

The Chargers were already without running back Melvin Gordon, now they may be facing a big game without their backup back.

Ekeler has dealt with stingers of late, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, and will require testing after aggravating the injury in Sunday’s victory over the Bengals.

The stinger issue limited Ekeler at one day of practice last month but otherwise had not cost him any action until Sunday. However, he missed the Chargers’ final drive of Week 14 after injuring his neck on an onside-kick attempt, and it’s possible the setback could cost him more action. Making things tough on Ekeler to play in Week 15 is a Thursday night matchup with the Chiefs on the schedule. Ekeler’s status will be updated further when the results of his exams are released, and those hoping to include him in their Week 15 lineups will want to keep a close eye on the situation.

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Via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler is getting more tests, and his status for Thursday’s game against the Chiefs is in doubt.

Ekeler said after the game in the locker room that he was fine.

“It’s important right now that we just get back to being healthy,” Ekeler said. “We have to get back in there and do all of our recovery. It’s a short week, so it will be a big mental week.”

With Ekeler banged up and Melvin Gordon (knee) a possibility to play against the Chiefs, it remains to be seen whether one of those two players or Justin Jackson will start at running back for the Chargers in Week 15.

Gordon has missed the last two weeks with a knee injury, but there have been reports that a return for Sunday was the target. If he can be ready, it sets the stage for an important showdown in the AFC, between perhaps the two best teams in the conference.

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