Tagged in: all-star

Curry leads Warriors past Knicks as fans return to MSG

Stephen Curry welcomed fans back to Madison Square Garden with another big night in the building, scoring 37 points and leading the Golden State Warriors to a 114-106 triumph over the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

Curry, who owns a 50-point game and a triple-double in the arena, returned from a one-game absence to make the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:38 left. He scored 26 points in the second half and added six rebounds and six assists.

This performance came in the first NBA game at Madison Square Garden with fans since the Knicks defeated Detroit last March 8, days before the season was suspended as the coronavirus was about to start pummeling New York.

Julius Randle went from the high of his first All-Star selection to the low of getting thrown out in the final seconds after picking up his second technical foul. He had 25 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted New York’s arenas to open to fans at 10% capacity, which meant roughly 2,000 at Madison Square Garden.

They greeted the Knicks with loud cheers early on, but there were the familiar noticeable groans after a turnover during a dismal stretch of the third quarter, when the Warriors opened a 13-point lead.

New York recovered from that and had the game tied at 97 before Curry’s 3-pointer. He converted a three-point play about two minutes later to make it 105-100 and helped finish it off at the foul line.

Kelly Oubre Jr. added 19 points and Andrew Wiggins had 16 for the Warriors, who got centers James Wiseman and Kevon Looney back from injuries and won for the first time after two rough losses on their four-game trip.

They blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost by four in Orlando, then fell 102-100 in Charlotte when Draymond Green got two technical fouls and was ejected in the closing seconds before Terry Rozier made a jumper at the buzzer.

Randle was the first Knicks player selected to the All-Star Game since Kristaps Porzingis in 2018. Randle addressed the crowd before the game, but the start of his remarks were drowned out by fans chanting “MVP! MVP!”

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Two-time All-Star pitcher Jordan Zimmermann signs minor league deal with Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed former All-Star pitcher Jordan Zimmermann to a minor league contract that incorporates an invitation to major league camp, the team informed Tuesday.

Zimmermann, who turns 35 on May 23, pitched in just three matches for the Detroit Tigers last season due to a forearm injury after going 1-13 with a 6.91 ERA in 2019. He was a two-time All-Star with the Washington Nationals, who selected him from Division III school Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the second round of the 2007 draft.

He described his injury as a “forearm flexor thing” and returned to make three September appearances last year, going 0-0 with a 7.94 ERA. Zimmermann says he now is as healthy as he’s been in a few years. “If I didn’t feel good or I didn’t feel healthy, I was probably thinking about retiring,” Zimmermann said.

“But I started working out, started running, started throwing and doing everything I normally do. The body feels good and the mind is telling me to keep going. I’m going to definitely give it another year, and we’ll see what happens after this year.”

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Zimmermann went 70-50 with a 3.32 ERA with the Nationals from 2009 to 2015, and he concluded seventh in the Cy Young Award voting in 2013 and fifth in 2014 while making the NL All-Star team both of those seasons.

He threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history when Washington beat the Miami Marlins 1-0 in the 2014 regular-season finale.

Zimmermann wasn’t nearly as effective after moving to the American League, posting a 25-41 record with a 5.63 ERA for Detroit over the past five seasons.

“If I didn’t have anything left, I probably would have retired and gone out on my own terms,” Zimmermann said. “But my body and my mind tell me, ‘You still have more left.’ Obviously, I want to go out there and stay healthy. I know I can get guys out. It’s definitely going to be nice getting back in the NL because I feel a lot more comfortable there than where I was.”

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St. Louis Cardinals officially acquire Nolan Arenado from Colorado Rockies

The St. Louis Cardinals completed their blockbuster trade to obtain All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

St. Louis dealt left-hander Austin Gomber and four minor leaguers to the Rockies: infielders Elehuris Montero and Mateo Gil along with right-handers Tony Locey and Jake Sommers.

As part of the trade, Colorado will send cash to St. Louis to offset part of the money Arenado is due in his contract.

Arenado had been set to be paid $199 million over the remaining six seasons of a $260 million, eight-year contract. As part of his agreement to waive a no-trade provision, Arenado agreed to add a season to his deal, which now extends for seven seasons through 2027.

His deal had given him the right to opt out and become a free agent after the 2021 season. His new contract gives him the right to opt out and become a free agent after either the 2022 or 2023 season.

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“Many have heard me say that one of the great things about baseball is that you always have a chance to get better,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said in a statement. “Today we got better! A deal of this nature, acquiring a player of Nolan’s considerable talents, are the ones that can set you apart in many ways.”

The 29-year-old Arenado has hit .293 with an .890 OPS over eight seasons, averaging 35 home runs and 114 RBIs per 162 games. Aided in part by hitter-friendly Coors Field, he has led the National League in home runs three times and topped the majors in RBIs twice.

The Cardinals concluded second in the NL Central last season and lost a first-round playoff matchup versus the San Diego Padres.

Arenado will bump Matt Carpenter out of his role as the starting third baseman and play in an infield with All-Stars Paul DeJong at shortstop and Paul Goldschmidt at first base.

Arenado slumped during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, hitting .253 with eight home runs and a .738 OPS over 48 games before going on the injured list Sept. 21 with a bruised left shoulder. He earned $12,962,963 in prorated pay and won his eighth consecutive Gold Glove. Arenado led the majors with 15 defensive runs saved.

St. Louis brings back much of the same team that made last year’s postseason, including veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright, who finalized an $8 million, one-year deal Friday.

Wainwright is returning for his 17th season with St. Louis, matching Bob Gibson (1959-75) for the second-most seasons with the Cardinals among pitchers, one behind Jesse Haines (1920-37).

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Corey Kluber excited to join Yanks

Limited to one inning in two years, Corey Kluber considers his ability will show with the New York Yankees.

“I consider myself to be healthy at this point. I’m not rehabbing anything or tending to any issues with anything lingering or anything like that,” the right-hander said Thursday, a day after finalizing an $11 million, one-year contract. “I’m basically at a normal stage of my offseason right now.”

Kluber completed his contract on the day AL batting champion DJ LeMahieu finalized a $90 million, six-year contract to remain in pinstripes.

“It’s no secret that I wanted to be back with the Yankees, I wanted to be back in New York. It was frustrating at times because it took so long,” the relieved second baseman said. “I just think the whole free-agent market in general was just slow.”

A three-time All-Star who turns 35 on April 10, Kluber joins a new-look rotation that contains returnees Gerrit Cole, Deivi García and Jordan Montgomery along with Jameson Taillon, who was acquired from Pittsburgh last weekend after missing most of the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

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Kluber won the 2014 and 2017 AL Cy Young Awards with Cleveland, going 56-20 over the 2016-18 seasons. He was hit on the right forearm on May 1, 2019, by a comebacker off the bat of Miami’s Brian Anderson and concluded 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts, then was traded to Texas. Kluber tore a muscle in his right shoulder in his Rangers debut on July 26, ending his season after one inning. The injury healed without surgery.

“That was extremely frustrating time for me, but I don’t think I ever got down on myself,” Kluber said. “I think that it’s probably more of overcoming the mental aspect of it as opposed to physical … getting out of that rehab mindset where you’re trying to work through things or feel for things.”

A three-time All-Star who is 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA in 10 seasons, Kluber has worked with Eric Cressey, who started last year as New York’s director of player health and performance.

With age, Kluber has been prepared to make variations to his preparation.

“The biggest thing with those adjustments is listening to my body when something is telling you something, you got to listen to it,” he stated. “I think that there are times when you have to be smart and probably not try to have that mentality just to push through, push through, push through. I think that there’s times when you’re going to get in a little more treatment or maybe back off.”

He already has prepared for reporting to the Yankees by shaving his beard to comply with a team rule.

“It feels a little bit naked but I’m getting used to it,” Kluber said.

He is one of a few additions to the Yankees, who traded reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston and have a pending $2.5 million agreement with Darren O’Day, a bullpen switch that helps them remain below the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

In addition, Luis Severino is expected to return at some point this season from Tommy John surgery last Feb. 27 and Domingo Germán is expected back from a domestic violence suspension that caused him to miss last season.

New York said goodbye to Masahiro Tanaka, who revealed Thursday he had agreed to a two-year contract to return to Japan with the Pacific League’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

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New York Mets acquire Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland Indians

Francisco Lindor is moving to a new city and team that is willing to meet his salary demands.

The four-time All-Star shortstop — and one of baseball’s best all-around players — was traded Thursday by the Cleveland Indians along with pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets, who have a new owner willing to spend at baseball’s highest levels.

“They did not come cheaply,” Mets president Sandy Alderson stated. “What we’re trying to do is create a new reality rather than deal with perception.”

The cash-strapped Indians sent Lindor and Carrasco to the Mets for infielders Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario, right-hander Josh Wolf and outfielder Isaiah Greene — a move Cleveland hopes will keep it competitive and capable of ending baseball’s longest World Series title drought.

Dealing Lindor, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2021 season, was inevitable for the midmarket Indians, who are unable to compete financially with MLB’s big spenders and dropped roughly $30 million in dealing two prominent players and fan favorites.

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“These are people we care about, not just players, and guys that loved the organization and have great memories here,” said Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti, who said he was in tears when he spoke with Lindor and Carrasco. “Trades like this are really tough. But it’s the right thing to do.”

For the Mets, landing Lindor is a home run and another major move by hedge fund owner Steven Cohen, who bought the team on Nov. 6 from the Wilpon and Katz families and has pledged to increase spending.

The 27-year-old Lindor can affect the game with his bat, glove and legs.

A two-time Gold Glove winner, he’s a career .285 hitter and has averaged 29 homers, 86 RBIs and 21 steals in his six major league seasons — all with the Indians, who drafted him in 2011 and developed him.

He has also been the face of the Indians franchise, with an infectious smile and joy for playing that has made him one of Cleveland’s most popular athletes. But he’s gone now, leaving the Indians without their best player and the team’s fans grumbling about owner Paul Dolan.

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Carlos Santana, Kansas City Royals reach 2-year deal

The Kansas City Royals and veteran first baseman Carlos Santana have agreed to a two-year contract that plugs one of the team’s biggest offensive holes while providing some clubhouse leadership for a rebuilding club.

The deal is for $17 million, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan, confirming an MLB Network report.

The 34-year-old Santana was an All-Star two years ago in Cleveland, when he hit a career-best .281 with 34 homers and 93 RBIs. But he slid to .199 with eight homers and 30 RBIs while playing 60 games during the shortened 2020 season, resulting in the Indians declining his $17.5 million option for the upcoming season.

The Royals were in the middle with a .244 team average last season, but they hit just 68 home runs and were tied with — coincidentally — the Indians for the sixth-worst scoring offense in the majors.

“One of our objectives this offseason was to add a middle-of-the-order bat, someone that would blend in well with our current group, make us a lot better,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore stated.

“Carlos certainly does that.” Santana should fill both an offensive need and defensive hole for the Royals. They had been toying with the option of moving Hunter Dozier to first base, but that would merely create another vacancy at third base and in the outfield, where they already have one to plug following the retirement of left fielder Alex Gordon.

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“He was one of the primary targets for us when we began to make offseason plans,” Moore said. “You know, once we began our season, we started talking mid-to-late July [about] players that would potentially fit for us. Carlos’ name was at the forefront of that based on the opportunity that we perceived that would perhaps present itself for us — middle of the order, switch hitter, highly professional. Winning-type player.”

The Royals are very familiar with Santana from his time in the AL Central. He hit 216 homers with 710 RBIs during 10 campaigns with the Indians, and he’s been durable in playing at least 143 games every season but his rookie year and this past season, when he still suited up for every game for Cleveland.

Another bonus? The Royals won’t have him in the other dugout anymore. Santana has hit .288 with 31 homers and 93 RBIs in 151 career games against them, the best of any team in the division.

The Royals also had the inside track on negotiations because Rene Francisco, their vice president and assistant GM, signed Santana as an amateur free agent when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in August 2014.

“That made the start-up of the conversation go extremely well,” Moore said.

For years one of the quietest teams in free agency, the Royals have been on an early spending spree under new owner John Sherman.

Relief pitcher Mike Minor signed an $18 million, two-year deal and outfielder Michael Taylor a $1.75 million deal for next campaign, and nearly all their arbitration-eligible players are under contract.

That incorporates an $8.05 million contract for slugger Jorge Soler and a $3.35 million deal for staff ace Brad Keller.

“I’ve said many times, ‘free agency is a flawed way to build your team,'” Moore said. “That’s why this offseason we’ve tried to do it from the top down.

We’ve tried to add some guys that had a little more impact. Two-year deals, we have a little more flexibility in 2022 than we have in 2021, just because of the economics of the game, but financially we’re in a position to add a little more money, a little more flexibility in the payroll.”

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Washington Nationals re-signing Josh Harrison to one-year contract

The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms with utility player Josh Harrison on a one-year, $1 million contract, the team informed Thursday.

Harrison spent the 2020 campaign with the Nationals after signing with them in July, less than a week after he was released by the Philadelphia Phillies. The 33-year-old hit .278 with two doubles, three home runs, 14 RBIs, six walks and 11 runs scored for Washington. He hit .309 as a starter.

Harrison can make an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses as part of the deal: $50,000 for 200 plate appearances and additional increments of $50,000 up to 400. He made 91 plate appearances in 33 games during the 60-game 2020 season.

Harrison, a right-handed hitter, is a two-time All-Star who has started games at second base, third base, shortstop, designated hitter and both corner outfield spots during his 10 years in the majors.

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He played eight seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining the Detroit Tigers in 2019 and has compiled a career .273 batting average with 56 homers, 291 RBIs and 384 runs.

He was a National League All-Star in 2014 and 2017 for Pittsburgh. But Harrison hit .175 with one homer in 36 games for the Tigers last year before getting released in August 2019.

He had signed a minor league contract with the Phillies in November before they let him go in July.

“You never know where you’re going to end up in this game,” Harrison said last month. “I’m blessed. I was fortunate enough to find a situation like this when it didn’t work out with Philly. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better place, a better group of guys.”

Harrison is the first free-agent question addressed by the Nationals. Players entering free agency this offseason include infielders Ryan Zimmerman and Asdrúbal Cabrera, outfielder Michael A. Taylor, catcher Kurt Suzuki and pitchers Sean Doolittle and Roenis Elías.

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Tampa Bay Rays take game 2 to even the series one game apiece

Through all the struggles, all the moments when it looked like he should be dropped down in the lineup or out of it altogether, Brandon Lowe believed.

He had built himself into one of the American League’s best hitters, and no slump, not even one during the playoffs, could derail that. The Tampa Bay Rays kept believing in Lowe, too. And in Game 2 of the World Series, both were rewarded handsomely for their faith.

Lowe became the first player ever to hit two opposite-field home runs in one World Series match, and the Rays’ bullpen bent but didn’t break as they held on for a 6-4 triumph Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece.

The 26-year-old Lowe, an All-Star two years ago as a rookie and a down-ballot MVP candidate this year, had endured a brutal postseason: 6-for-56 with 19 strikeouts and not one multi-hit game among the 15 the Rays had played. And yet Tampa Bay never wavered — he sat only one game and pinch hit in it — confident that Lowe would find his swing.

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Lowe, hitting in the No. 2 hole, punished a 95 mph fastball from rookie starter Tony Gonsolin out to left field, giving the Rays an early advantage. He piled on with a two-run shot off rookie Dustin May in the fifth inning, pushing the Rays’ advantage to 5-0.

In the meantime, Rays starter Blake Snell hadn’t permitted a hit, striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings.

Following the fourth, Snell bounded off the mound, shouting into the expanse of Globe Life Field, to no one and everyone among the crowd of 11,472. He looked like his Cy Young-winning self, his fastball, curve ball and slider confounding a group of Dodgers hitters who in Game 1 piled up eight runs through power, patience and proficiency wielding the bat.

Lowe’s multi-homer game was the 55th in World Series history, the seventh by a second baseman and the first by a Rays player. And it continued Tampa Bay’s trend of needing home runs to score. They set a record with 28 home runs this postseason, and entering the World Series, nearly 72% of their runs had come via the longball.

The return of the Lowe who helped lead the Rays to the AL East title was a welcome sign for a Tampa Bay team whose offensive struggles were of paramount concern — particularly with the prospect of falling down 0-2 to the Dodgers. Lowe had hit .269/.362/.554 with 14 home runs in 56 games during the regular season and ranked just behind Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. in wins above replacement.

Now, after a Thursday off-day, the teams return for Game 3 with the best pitching matchup of the series: Dodgers ace Walker Buehler versus Rays stalwart Charlie Morton.

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