Category Archives: Sports

White Sox to sign Jon Jay to one year contract

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a deal with free-agent outfielder Jon Jay, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

The one-year deal is reportedly worth $4 million, per Nightengale.

The 33-year-old split time last season between the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks, combining for a .268 batting average, .330 on-base percentage and 74 runs scored in 143 games.

As Nightengale noted, Jay is also a close friend of free agent Manny Machado, who has an offer on the table from the White Sox. Yonder Alonso is also the shortstop’s brother-in-law and is currently on Chicago’s roster.

The trio have known each other for years growing up in Miami, which Machado spoke about in a 2017 essay. “For Jon, Yonder and I, Miami means family, good friends, culture and … baseball,” Machado wrote in the Players’ Tribune. “Each winter we meet up in our hometown and we go to work. We laugh a lot, too, and have fun together. At the end of the day, though, we’re there to put in work and to get better at baseball.”

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While it might not be the only factor he considers, the relationships could potentially put the White Sox over the top in the Machado sweepstakes.

Of course, Jay has value on his own on Chicago’s roster.

The left-hander can play all three outfield spots and is an above-average defender, helping his team even when the bat isn’t working.

He has also proved himself as a hitter in the past, topping .290 at the plate in both 2016 and 2017 before a relatively down 2018 season. Adding in his playoff experience with the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, winning a World Series in 2011, Jay can be a useful addition for the White Sox in 2019.

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Packers to hire Titans OC Matt LaFleur as coach

The Green Bay Packers are hiring Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to be their next head coach, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, the two sides are “working on finalizing a deal.” He added that LaFleur’s hiring is “expected to help keep Mike Pettine and the defensive staff intact.”

Rapoport added that “Pettine, still under contract, was on new coach Matt LaFleur’s list when he presented during his interview, source said. The early expectation is that Pettine stays in Green Bay, though Lafleur will make a firm call when it’s official.”

He also noted that Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken “was the other really strong candidate here. Rather than do second rounds, they moved quickly on LaFleur.” As for the potential domino effect of the move, Rapoport reported that the Packers were the only “known” interview New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took this offseason, which “likely means Josh is back in New England for another year.”

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LaFleur, 39, started his NFL coaching career with the Houston Texans as a quality control coach (2008-09) before spending four seasons as Washington’s quarterbacks coach (2010-13). He then returned to college for one season as Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach in 2014 before spending time as the quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons (2015-16), working with former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. In Green Bay, LaFleur inherits one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL and better playmakers in the passing game, led by Davante Adams. Building a stronger run game—the Packers were 22nd in run offense in 2018—will be one of the keys for LaFleur, as will be developing a strong rapport with Rodgers. 

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Astros trade J.D. Davis to mets for prospects

The Astros acquired a trio of Minor League players on Sunday in a five-player trade that included sending infielder J.D. Davis to the Mets. In exchange for Davis and Minor League infielder Cody Bohanek, Houston acquired outfielder Ross Adolph, catcher Scott Manea and infielder Luis Santana.

Davis, taken in the third round of the 2014 Draft, made the Astros’ Opening Day roster last year and hit .175 with a homer and five RBIs across 42 games in five stints with the Major League club, starting 14 games at third base, eight at first base and three in left field. He also pitched in a game.

With the Astros adding Aledmys Diaz to their versatile slate of infielders like Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White, Davis would have had to battle for playing time in the big leagues this year. Davis spent most of the season at Triple-A Fresno, and he won the Pacific Coast League batting title after hitting .342 in 85 games. He had 25 doubles, two triples and 17 homers with 81 RBIs and a .988 OPS.

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Adolph, 22, won the 2018 Most Valuable Player Award for Class A Short Season Brooklyn, batting .276 in 61 games with nine doubles, 12 triples, seven home runs, 35 RBIs, 14 steals and an .857 OPS.

Manea, 23, was a South Atlantic League All-Star in 2018 for Class A Columbia, where he hit .261 in 100 games with 12 homers, 53 RBIs and an .800 OPS. In 65 games behind the plate, he threw out 37.7 percent of attempted basestealers. Santana, 19, led Rookie level Kingsport in batting (.348) and OPS (.917) in 2018 in his 53 games with 13 doubles, four homers, 35 RBIs and eight steals. His .348 average ranked fifth in the Appalachian League. During his three seasons in the Mets’ system, Santana hit .329 (170-for-516) with 98 RBIs and an .891 OPS.

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Timberwolves fire president and coach Thibodeau

The Minnesota Timberwolves had just posted their fourth-largest margin of victory of the season, and Tom Thibodeau looked and sounded satisfied Sunday as the demanding and intense coach used his postgame news conference to praise the attitude and energy with which his team had just played.

Minutes later, Thibodeau was fired.

Halfway into his third season with Minnesota that began in turmoil surrounding the eventual trade of All-Star Jimmy Butler, Thibodeau’s final game was a 108-86 victory over the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers.

Assistant coach Ryan Saunders, who is 32, was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Scott Layden will stay as the general manager, assuming oversight of the roster. Thibodeau was also the president of basketball operations, with full authority over personnel decisions. “We would like to thank Tom for his efforts and wish him all the best,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said in a statement released by the team. “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”

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Though the timing of the move after a big win was unusual, the 60-year-old Thibodeau’s status was tenuous after the rocky start created largely by the way Butler forced his way out after such a strong debut season in 2017-18 helped the Timberwolves return to the playoffs after a 13-year absence.

Taylor told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that he didn’t blame Thibodeau for Butler’s discontent, but the owner said he believed the team was underachieving. Thibodeau finished 97-107 with the Wolves, who barely reached the post-season last spring, needing to beat Denver in overtime at home in the 82nd and final game. They were beaten by Houston in five games in the first round. Butler pushed the organization into a corner when his stance that he wouldn’t sign a new contract with the team became public two weeks before training camp began.

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Grizzlies get Bulls Justin Holiday in trade

The Chicago Bulls have traded forward Justin Holiday to the Memphis Grizzlies for guard MarShon Brooks and guard/forward Wayne Selden Jr., as well as the Grizzlies’ 2019 and 2020 second-round picks. In a related move, the Bulls also waived guard Cameron Payne.

Brooks (6-5, 200) was selected 25th overall by the Boston Celtics in the 2011 NBA Draft, but was moved to the New Jersey Nets in a draft-night deal. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team during the 2011-12 season. An NBA veteran with five seasons of service, Brooks has also played for the Celtics, Warriors, Lakers and Grizzlies. He holds career NBA averages of 8.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 17.3 minutes per game. This season, Brooks is averaging 6.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 13.3 minutes over 29 games. He also played overseas from 2014-17 and has played in the G League for the Maine Red Claws and Santa Cruz Warriors.

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Selden Jr. (6-5, 230) went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft. He played three games with the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2016-17 season while on a 10-day contract before being signed by the Grizzlies for the remainder of 2016-17 through this season. Over his NBA career, Selden has averaged 7.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 17.1 minutes per game. This season, he’s averaging 5.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 14.2 minutes per game. Selden also has G League experience with the Memphis Hustle. The Bulls signed Holiday as a free agent prior to the start of the 2017-18 season. He was also with the Bulls during part of the 2015-16 season after being traded from the Atlanta Hawks. In his time with Chicago, Holiday averaged 10.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.21 steals in 29.9 minutes per game.

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Mets sign Aquimedes Caminero, Rymer Liriano to minor league deal

The New York Mets made two minor league signings on Thursday, bringing in relief pitcher Arquimedes Caminero and outfielder Rymer Liriano on non-guaranteed deals, as per a team release. Both received an invite to major league camp.

The organization’s outfield depth chart was desperately bare in the upper-levels before this offseason.

So far, Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has done all he can to solidify that aspect, bringing in Rajai Davis and Gregor Blanco on minor-league deals. Adding a former Top-50 prospect in Liriano can’t hurt.

The 27-year-old Dominican native signed with the Padres as a 16-year-old in 2007, then bounced around the league after being traded to Milwaukee in 2016 (White Sox, Angels, back to the Brewers).

Over 150 major league plate appearances, Liriano has a .220/.293/.287 slash line. Though, his MiLB line is a bit more flattering. Over nine minor league seasons, the outfielder has a .272/.346/.436 slash line, including a .253/.342/.472, 20 home run, 59 RBI (in 404 plate appearances) Triple-A campaign split between Salt Lake and Colorado Springs.

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Caminero, 31, last pitched in the majors in 2016 (Seattle and Pittsburgh), owning a 3.56 ERA over 18 relief appearances.

The 31-year-old was a flamethrower the last time we saw him in the majors. As per Fangraphs, the average velocity of his fastball in 2015 and 2016 was 99 MPH and 98.7 MPH, respectively.

Since 2017, the Dominican native has played for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan’s Central League.

In 2017, Caminero had an outstanding year, pitching to a 2.42 ERA with a 1.247 WHIP, 67 strikeouts, and 23 walks over 63 innings (57 appearances).

He pitched in just 20 games in 2018 for the Giants, suffering a severe dip in efficiency (6.27 ERA, 1.768 WHIP, 21 strikeouts, eight walks). The Mets also signed catcher Dustin Houle, right-handed pitcher Casey Coleman and infielder Arismendy Alcantara to minor league deals.

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Nadal pulls out of Brisbane, Melbourne in doubt

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal will focus on getting fit for the Australian Open after pulling out of the Brisbane International with a thigh strain.

The 32-year-old Spaniard will nurse the “dangerous” injury he picked up playing in Abu Dhabi in late December until he possibly lines up next week in the hit-and-giggle FAST4 Showdown in Sydney next week.

“I still wanted to play,” Nadal told reporters on Wednesday.

“But all the recommendations from the doctors … (were if) I play here, there is a risk, important risk to don’t have the chance to play Melbourne.

“I can’t do my 100 percent.

“It’s a very small thing, but can become a big thing.”

The 17-time grand slam champion was due to play his opening Brisbane clash on Thursday — his first ATP tournament match since pulling out of the U.S. Open semifinals in September with an ongoing knee complaint. He lost to South African Kevin Anderson in his only match at the Mubadala exhibition last week, withdrawing from the event after the defeat.

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Nadal was limited to nine tournaments last year due to a string of ailments and his preparation for the Australian summer was disrupted by ankle surgery in November.

As for the Australian Open, Nadal sees himself in a better position than 12 months ago when he entered the major on the back of just one match in almost three months due to more knee issues.

He was forced to retire in the fifth set of his quarterfinal against Croat Marin Cilic with a leg injury.

“My hope is to win the Australian Open,” he said.

“And being honest, I feel myself playing well. I feel myself playing at a good level of tennis.

“I really believe that I will be 100 percent ready for Melbourne.” Nadal’s withdrawal means Australian No. 1 Alex de Minaur will meet French veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or lucky loser Taro Daniel of Japan in the quarterfinals on Friday.

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Lions moving on from OC Jim Bob Cooter

The Detroit Lions are moving on from offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. According to Albert Breer, the team will not renew Cooter’s contract, which expired at the end of the season.

The move comes after the Lions offense had been completely ineffective over the past couple months. Though the Lions offense finished strong against the Green Bay Packers, it came off the heels of six straight games in which the Lions failed to score more than 20 points.

Cooter joined the team in 2014 as Matthew Stafford’s quarterback coach. He took over offensive coordinator duties midway through the 2015 season after the Lions fired Joe Lombardi. Cooter endeared himself to Detroit after Stafford’s career was immediately revitalized. Stafford under Lombardi: 61.7 % completions, 7.1 Y/A, 34 TDs, 21 INTs, 86.0 passer rating
Stafford under Cooter (2015-16): 66.6% completions, 7.5 Y/A, 44 TDs, 14 INTs, 97.5 passer rating

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But all that magic has worn off over the past few years. The Lions offense is the worst it has been in years, Stafford has regressed considerably, and despite an improved running game, Detroit is scoring fewer points than ever.

Cooter has had to deal with a severe decline in talent due to injuries and questionable roster moves—both things obviously out of his control—but in an age where offenses seem more innovative and complicated, Cooter’s gameplans failed to develop and evolve. Instead, Cooter appeared to grow more and more conservative as his tenure continued and tried to fit square peg players in his already establish round holes.

Cooter is now the second Lions coach from 2018 that won’t be with the team going forward. Earlier in the season, special teams coach Joe Marciano was relieved of his duties.

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Leonard scores career-high, Raptors beat Jazz

Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 45 points, Pascal Siakam had a career-best 28 points with 10 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Utah Jazz 122-116 on Tuesday night.

Norman Powell scored a season-high 14 points, and the Raptors won their fourth straight at home.

Jae Crowder scored a career-high 30 points, Derrick Favors had 21 and Donovan Mitchell scored 19 as the Jazz dropped to 10-12 on the road and 18-20 overall.

Utah’s Rudy Gobert scored 16 points, and Ricky Rubio had 14.

Leonard made all seven of his field-goal attempts in the third quarter and added five foul shots. His 19 points were the second most in any quarter by a Raptors player this season. Serge Ibaka scored 20 points in the first quarter of a Nov. 4 road win against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Leonard shot 16 for 22 overall, missing all three attempts from 3-point range. He went 13 for 17 at the free-throw line. “I felt like in that third quarter when he went to the line — however many times he went to the line — he got into a rhythm there and continued to be more aggressive,” said Jae Crowder, who finished with a career-high 30 points of his own to lead the Jazz. “From there, it was an uphill battle defending him.”

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The Raptors (28-11) needed just about every one of the points that Leonard and Pascal Siakam — who scored a career-high 28 points to go along with 10 rebounds — produced to hold off a Jazz team that, while trailing virtually the entire second half, never quite let Toronto pull away.

Now the focus shifts to San Antonio, where the Raptors will face the Spurs on Thursday night for the first time since the blockbuster trade that saw Leonard and Danny Green come to Toronto in exchange for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick. “Yeah, it’s going to be fun,” Leonard said during his on-court interview Tuesday night. “Everybody’s anticipating the game. Things like that only get me better for the long run, so it’s going to be a good game.”

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Seahawks Delano Hill on injured reserve

The Seahawks made a roster move ahead of Tuesday’s practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, placing strong safety Delano Hill on injured reserve and signing receiver Malik Turner from the practice squad. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said Hill suffered a hip injury in the team’s regular-season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.

“He’s got a crack in his hip that he can get around on it, but he’s not going to be able to play with that,” Carroll said as the club readies for its Wild Card playoff matchup with the Cowboys on Saturday in Dallas. With free safety Tedric Thompson nursing chest and ankle injuries the past two weeks, Hill got the start at strong safety while veteran Bradley McDougald moved from strong safety to Thompson’s free safety spot. Carroll said Hill had been “playing great ball” to close the regular season.

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“The hopes for him coming back next time around and being a big factor for all the playing time and competing and all of that, it’s there,” Carroll said. “He was playing his best game, he played really well; hits, running, tackling, all kinds of good stuff, pressuring. So a very, very bright future for him and this will set him back for a while, but it’s not something he can’t recover from. It’s a non-displaced fracture, so he’ll be OK, there’s just nothing we can do about it.”

Thankfully for the Seahawks, Hill’s move to IR comes as Thompson is expected to make his return to the lineup.

“We’re happy to see him,” Carroll said of Thompson’s comeback.

Having Thompson back would allow McDougald to return to playing strong safety while Thompson plays free safety, where Thompson started 10 games for the Seahawks this season. Turner, meanwhile, goes from the practice squad to the active roster for the second time this season. The rookie receiver originally joined the 53 back on Halloween following the release of veteran Brandon Marshall. Turner recorded two catches for 20 yards through six games before Seattle waived him in late December and re-signed him to the practice squad.

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