Tagged in: arizona

DeMarlo Hale replaces Brad Mills on Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians coaching staff

Indians manager Terry Francona has assembled his coaching staff for the 2021 season, but it won’t contain his longtime friend and bench coach Brad Mills.

Francona, who missed much of this past shortened season with significant health issues, will replace Mills with DeMarlo Hale. Hale, 59, joins the Indians after spending the past two seasons with the Braves.

Hale previously worked on Francona’s staff in Boston from 2006 to 2011, serving as bench coach in 2010 and 2011. Hale has also been with Texas, Baltimore and Toronto. Mills, who opted out of the 2020 season for personal motives, will remain with the Indians in a yet-to-be determined capacity.

“DeMarlo was one guy that I kind of thought that if I ever get back to managing again, this is a guy I’d like to have on my staff. He’s really good. He has an unbelievable way of not just communicating, but connecting with everybody,”

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Francona stated on a call from his home in Arizona.

Francona intends to return for his ninth season with the Indians.

He managed only 14 games this year due to a gastrointestinal issue requiring surgeries as well as blood-clot complications that landed him in the hospital for several days.

“I feel good. I’ve spent the last six weeks really working hard,” Francona said. “I told (Indians president of baseball operations) Chris (Antonetti) I needed to do that. I said, ‘Hey, give me until Thanksgiving just to make sure I’m OK.’ We’re coming up on Thanksgiving now and I’m doing pretty well.

“I’ve been active, lost some weight and feel like I’m putting myself in a better position to succeed physically over the course of a long season.”

With first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. filling in for Francona, the Indians clinched a wild-card spot but were eliminated by the Yankees.

Alomar, who has been a Cleveland coach for more than a decade, figured to be a candidate for a managerial job but didn’t get one.

That shocked Francona.

“I was borderline stunned that somebody didn’t try to hire him away from us this winter, because I thought he basically did a 54-game interview process and did it under the most difficult of circumstances and kind of aced it,” he said. “Now, for personal reasons, I’m glad he’s staying. I love having him on our staff.

“I guarantee you Sandy has as much or more responsibility than any first base coach in baseball, and there’s a reason, and that’s because he’s really good. … When you spend eight years with somebody you get to trust them a lot. So for personal reasons, I’m thrilled he’s back, but I am really surprised.’

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Los Angeles Dodgers expect Cody Bellinger to be ready for spring training

Cody Bellinger’s pennant-winning home run in Game 7 of the NLCS proved costly. The Dodgers outfielder on Tuesday had surgery on the right shoulder he dislocated during the celebration of said home run.

The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the team informed. Bellinger is expected to start rehab in Arizona next week.

Bellinger’s home run off Braves right-hander Chris Martin in the seventh inning of Game 7 of the NLCS gave the Dodgers a 4-3 lead, which a few innings later became the third National League pennant in four years for Los Angeles.

After hitting the home run, Bellinger exchanged forearms with A.J. Pollock, then did so more aggressively with Kiké Hernández near the on-deck circle. The forearm bash was so hard, Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder, something he’s done before in his career, but on defense at first base.

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After the home run, Bellinger played the final two innings of Game 7 on defense after trainers popped his shoulder back into its socket.

Bellinger and the Dodgers downplayed the injury, and he was cleared to play all six matches of the World Series. But he was just 3-for-22 (.136/.208/.273) versus the Rays, after hitting .250/.365/.545 in the Dodgers’ first 12 playoff games. That Fall Classic performance included a home run in Game 1, after which Bellinger toned down the celebration, opting to exchange toe taps with his teammates.

“I said it before the game, if I hit one today, I’m not touching anyone’s arm. I’m going straight foot,” Bellinger said at the time. A 10-week recovery time for Bellinger would have him ready by the end of January, still with some time before spring training initiates.

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DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals Agree to Reported 2-Year

The Arizona Cardinals have signed receiver DeAndre Hopkins to a two-year extension, the team announced Tuesday.

The deal is worth $54.5 million, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The $27.25 million per year is the highest annual salary in league history for a non-quarterback. The deal includes $42.75 million in guarantees.

Hopkins also told reporters his contract contains a no-trade clause and a clause that won’t let him to take the franchise tag.

Added to the three years left on his present contract, the extension gives him $94 million over the next five seasons for an average of $18.8 million per year, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He is now signed through 2024.

Arizona acquired Hopkins this offseason in a trade with the Houston Texans, also receiving a fourth-round pick, in exchange for David Johnson, a second-round pick in 2020 and a fourth-round pick in 2021.

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Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said the receiver’s interest in a new deal caused the trade.

“It was in the best interest of our team,” the coach said in April. “DeAndre Hopkins was a great football player. We loved DeAndre Hopkins. He had three years left on his deal, and he wanted a raise.”

The 28-year-old only has a $12.5 million cap hit for 2020, which ranks 14th among receivers, per Spotrac.

Ed Werder of ESPN reported he was seeking $18-20 million per year, which is what he got when added to his current deal.

Hopkins has been one of the top players at his position since entering the league in 2013, earning four Pro Bowl selections and making the All-Pro First Team in each of the last three years. He had over 100 catches in 2018 and 2019 and has remained durable with only two missed regular-season games in seven years.

He will play a crucial role in the Cardinals passing attack alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, trying to provide some stability for second-year quarterback Kyler Murray.

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Arizona Cardinals making Budda Baker highest-paid safety in NFL history

The Arizona Cardinals are making two-time Pro Bowl selection Budda Baker the highest-paid safety in NFL history by giving him a four-year extension worth $59 million, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Baker was Arizona’s second-round pick in 2017, and his rookie contract was set to expire after this campaign.

The deal will average $14.75 million per year, but no other financial aspects were disclosed. The Cardinals announced the four-year extension Tuesday.

Baker’s extension comes four years after the Cardinals gave another star safety, Tyrann Mathieu, a long-term extension. Mathieu’s deal was for five years and worth $62.5 million, but he was released after the 2017 season. Baker is the first second-round pick to receive either an extension or second deal under general manager Steve Keim, who was hired in 2013.

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The 24-year-old Baker is coming off his second Pro Bowl year and his first as a safety.

He recorded 147 tackles last season and led the NFL with 104 solo tackles, the only player with at least 100 solo tackles in 2019.

Baker does not have an interception since entering the NFL in 2017 from the University of Washington, however, and has played the most coverage snaps (1,261) of any player during that span not to have intercepted a pass.

He also has recorded 33 quarterback pressures since entering the NFL, the most by any defensive back during that span. Baker has been a steady presence for the Cardinals in both their pass and run defense. Arizona permitted just two completions of 30 yards or more last season.

Baker has also been a factor in Arizona’s run defense. His 33 run stuffs, defined by NFL Next Gen Stats as tackles on run plays for no gain or a loss, are tied with Jamal Adams for second most among defensive backs since 2017.

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Arizona willing to host all 30 MLB teams at ‘right time’, governor says

Arizona governor Doug Ducey has come out in support of MLB’s potential plan of playing this season primarily in empty spring training ballparks in his state at the time public health concerns authorize.

MLB and the players’ association have discussed starting this campaign with all 30 major league teams based in the Phoenix area, where there are 10 spring training parks plus the Diamondbacks’ Chase Field, which has a retractable roof, and several college facilities.

The plan would be contingent upon receiving the go-ahead from federal, state and local governments.

“Arizona, at the right time, is very open-minded to hosting whatever Major League Baseball would like from the state,” Ducey stated on Tuesday.

“At the time it would be appropriate for public health, if Arizona were in a position to reopen, we have the facilities that are here.”

MLB also said Tuesday it is cutting the salary of senior staff by an average of 35% for this year due to the new coronavirus’ impact on the season.

MLB is guaranteeing paychecks to its full-time employees of its central office through May.

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With no clarity on when the shutdown will end, players and staff intently follow the daily developments.

Ducey said he has spoken with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred about the all-Arizona option.

“There’s a number of different scenarios,” Ducey said. “I think the first scenario that was talked about was the idea of these clubs coming, being in hotels and in a way, having their own stay-at-home orders whether it either be at the hotel, or inside the stadium, without fans. It’s something that Arizona is open minded to, and I’m open-minded to.”

Many players and staff are worried about the potential of a long absence from family while sequestered.

Minnesota catcher Mitch Garver wondered how the plan would work,

“Where do we live? Who’s allowed to come with us? Are we only allowed to go to the field and back to the hotel? What kind of hotel? What kind of accommodations are we working with? Is there going to be meal money?” he said. “Then you get into player health, and we’re talking about playing in 120 degree weather on spring training fields potentially living out of a visiting locker room.”

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Reds staff member in Arizona tests positive for coronavirus

An Arizona-based employee of the Cincinnati Reds has tested positive for COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, the team informed on Wednesday.

The Reds have their spring training facility at Goodyear Ballpark in the West Valley and share the facility with the Cleveland Indians. The camp is on Estrella Parkway and Yuma Road near Phoenix Goodyear Airport.

The latest update on Wednesday stated the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona was 27, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced. It’s not clear whether that total included this Reds employee.

“As part of our commitment to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Reds are sending a precautionary notice to those who were inside the building of the Reds Spring Training Complex in Goodyear, Arizona, that an Arizona-based Reds employee has tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement from the team said.

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“For your reference, the dates involved are February 29, 2020 through March 14, 2020. The Reds staff who came in close contact with this employee are being tested and have self-quarantined. We will continue to follow the state and local guidelines for the prevention and treatment of COVID-2019.”

The city of Goodyear stated in a press release that team staff in close contact with the employee are being tested and have self-quarantined.

“Goodyear continues to practice very strict sanitizing measures at all city facilities, including the Goodyear Ballpark where spring training games have been cancelled since March 12. City staff continues to practice social distancing to reduce human-to-human contact.”

In a conference call, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said he isn’t aware of any impact this has on D-backs players or employees.

“I have not been notified that there would be concern as of this minute in terms of that. I do know our last spring training game was with the Reds, but I don’t believe we’ve had any contact,” he said. “But we’re asking those questions.”

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