Tagged in: cleared

Pacers star Victor Oladipo pondering return during NBA restart

Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo initially ruled out a return for the NBA restart in Orlando, but the two-time All-Star now says there’s a “strong possibility” that could change, though he remains unsure.

“It was hard for me to assess where I was at from the long layover, and obviously [with the coronavirus], couldn’t really control that. But now, coming down here and getting some practices in, getting my feet under me, going out there playing with the guys, there’s a possibility that I could play,” Oladipo told reporters during Wednesday’s Zoom availability.

Oladipo first planned to travel with the team to Orlando while continuing rehab on his quadriceps tendon, but now his “body’s feeling good,” with no limitations from head coach Nate McMillan during practices. He’s trying to give it a go.

Even before traveling to Orlando, the Pacers included him on their travel party list as they worked through his options.

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President of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and GM Chad Buchanan have publicly supported Oladipo, saying the decision was his to make and giving him no set deadline, despite multiple sources confirming to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that there in an unresolved situation regarding $3 million in salary.

The union feels he should be paid his remaining salary, while the league believes he should not be, according to Windhorst. Either way, Oladipo says returning to basketball is his main focus, not the money.

The Pacers are willing to pay his salary whether or not he plays for the remainder of this shortened season, sources told Windhorst. So there’s no real pressure either way. “These people have been amazing since the day I put on this jersey. It’s no surprise that they back me and they support me,” Oladipo said.

“It’s an amazing organization, amazing people. So I’m just thankful that they’ve got my back. That’s not necessarily a given thing when you’re in a situation like I am, so I just want to let them know that I appreciate that for sure.”

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Miguel Sano cleared to join Twins after Covid-19

When the Twins got good news about Byron Buxton on Tuesday, it didn’t take long before the subject turned to Miguel Sano, ostensibly the Twins’ starting first baseman but without any practice since camp re-started because he rang positive for COVID-19 during intake testing.

They received good news on Sano on Wednesday when he was cleared to join teammates after two weeks of COVID-19 quarantine. He will work out for the first time since summer camp started July 3 this afternoon at Target Field.

Buxton, the elite center fielder whose Achilles’ heel has been his health, doesn’t seem at risk for missing too much time because of a left foot sprain suffered Monday. He’s been playing and has looked sharp at the plate and in the field.

Now the Twins must see if Sano, moving from third to first base because the Twins signed all-star Josh Donaldson last winter, can use the next week to get ready for the team’s July 24 season opener versus the White Sox in Chicago.

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He has played first base in major league games, but only as a fill-in, and hasn’t worked with teammates since spring training was canceled in mid-March.

“I think it’s more of a question if Miguel is ready physically to play, more than anything else, more than the question about playing a new position or anything in particular,” manager Rocco Baldelli stated after Tuesday’s intrasquad game.

During intake testing, Sano and utility man Willians Astudillo were the only Twins major leaguers to test positive for the coronavirus that has killed more than 134,000 Americans, and has been spreading in the U.S. at a record-setting pace the past few weeks.

Because Sano has registered consecutive negative test results, he was cleared to play on Wednesday. Like Buxton, another first-round draft pick who has shown bursts of greatness, Sano has had trouble staying on the field. A 7.8-WAR player and an all-star in 2017, Sano has played more than 100 matches twice in five seasons, and never as many as 120.

In 2018, he was sent to Fort Myers, Fla., in midseason to get into better shape.

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Nuggets star Nikola Jokic clears quarantine in NBA’s Orlando bubble

Since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 back on March 11, prompting the suspension of the NBA season, dozens of players have sadly also come down with the virus. Thankfully none of them have become seriously ill, but a few, including Spencer Dinwiddie and Taurean Prince, have been forced to sit out of the league’s plan to resume the season at Disney World later this month. 

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic was another who tested positive for the coronavirus, but he will be able to play after returning multiple negative tests, both in his native Serbia, where he was infected, and back in Denver.

While it’s terrific news that Jokic has been cleared, the timing of the tests meant he was unable to join the Nuggets on their flight to Orlando Jokic tested positive for COVID-19 back in June, just a few days after he was spotted hanging out with tennis star Novak Djokovic, who also ended up testing positive.

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The fact that Jokic is already healthy is great news, first and foremost, just for him and his family’s sake.

This virus is extremely unpredictable, and even with healthy people like Jokic, there are no guarantees. 

his virus is extremely unpredictable, and even with healthy people like Jokic, there are no guarantees. 

So that, of course, is the main priority, but also from a basketball perspective, this is big for the Nuggets. They’re in third place in the loaded Western Conference at 43-22 and will need Jokic operating at a high level if they want to improve on last season’s second-round playoff exit. 

How Jokic will fare once play starts obviously remains to be seen, not just because of his ordeal with the virus and the strange circumstances of this bubble, but because he lost a tremendous amount of weight during the quarantine — so much so that he apparently has abs now, according to Nuggets president Tim Connelly. 

While having abs is never a bad thing, it will be attractive to see how Jokic fares with a smaller frame. He’s always been a guy that’s used his bulk to throw opponents around and carve out space, and he might not be able to do that to quite the same extent anymore. 

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Rangers’ Willie Calhoun cleared for activity after fastball to face

Texas Rangers outfielder Willie Calhoun has been cleared to restart regular workouts and baseball activities, he announced on Twitter on Thursday.

The 25-year-old suffered a broken jaw after he was hit in the face by a Julio Urias fastball during a spring game versus the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 8.

The left-handed hitting Calhoun was drafted by the Dodgers in 2015, and traded to Texas in July 2017 in a package for Yu Darvish.

Calhoun had a plate surgically inserted into his jaw on March 9, but recently said he planned to be ready for the regular season if it was pushed back to May.

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“I know, if this is pushed back to May, I’m going to be ready,” Calhoun stated on March 17, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. “I want so much to be ready to play on Opening Day. Getting hit and the feeling afterward that I was going to miss Opening Day was the lowest of feelings, even lower than getting sent down last year. I was so excited to have a breakout year. Everything was set up for me to take a deep breath this spring and then really step forward.”

The youngster is expected to be a big part of the Rangers’ lineup this campaign.

He had a breakout campaign in 2019, when he hit 21 home runs and posted an .848 OPS in 83 games.

He is expected to start in left field for the Rangers, who traded outfielders Delino DeShields and Nomar Mazara over the winter.

His tweet came on the same day that was scheduled to be opening day before the coronavirus pandemic indefinitely pushed back the start of the MLB season.

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