Tagged in: east

New York Mets star Pete Alonso, back in Home Run Derby, ‘super excited’ to swing for a third title

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso will participate in the Home Run Derby next week in Los Angeles.

Major League Baseball made the announcement Monday on its official Twitter page, confirming the return of one of the Derby’s most successful hitters.

“It’s a really fun event,” Alonso told reporters in the Mets clubhouse Monday before their game against the Braves in Atlanta. “It’s going to be super exciting, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Also before the game, the Braves announced that star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. will participate in the Derby. Last year, in Denver, Alonso outlasted Baltimore Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini to become the third back-to-back Home Run Derby champion.

Alonso recorded 74 home runs — totaling 6.35 miles in distance — en route to the crown.

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“I think I’m the best power hitter on the planet,” Alonso said after the win last year. “Being able to showcase that, and really putting on a fun display for fans, I just think it’s a dream come true for me because when I was young, my parents let me stay up past my bedtime to watch this. That was one of the few nights per year I actually got to stay up past my bedtime, just watch incredible feats that you don’t see in a regular baseball game.”

And now Dodger Stadium will be his stage next Monday, as he takes a break from a regular season that has New York fans thinking about a postseason run. The Mets entered play on Monday with a 53-33 record and a first-place standing in the National League East.

Alonso leads the team with 23 home runs to go along with a .273 batting average and 70 RBIs.

Last year — with New York bench coach Dave Jauss pitching to him — Alonso wowed the crowd at Coors Field with a final-round total of 23, in joining Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14) in winning successive titles.

“This is just surreal,” Alonso said at the time. “It’s just truly a blessing.”

Alonso confirmed Monday that Jauss will again be his pitcher next week. “Just need to give him about two pots of coffee for before and a case of Bud Light for after, and he said he’s good to go,” Alonso said.

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Caleb Martin agrees to 3-year, $20 million deal to return to Miami Heat

Caleb Martin has agreed to return to the Miami Heat on a three-year deal worth $20 million, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

A restricted free agent, Martin broke out last season for Miami, providing a solid rotation option on the wing to an injury-plagued Heat team.

After playing his first two seasons alongside his twin brother Cody in Charlotte, Caleb signed a two-way deal with Miami and went on to average a career high 22.9 minutes per match. He scored 9.2 points per game while shooting 50.7% from the field and 41.3% from 3-point range.

Martin, 26, started 12 games last campaign — mostly as a replacement for the injured Jimmy Butler — and his all-around offensive game and strong defense helped the Heat stay afloat without one of their stars.

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Martin is the latest role player to return this offseason to the Heat, who have also agreed to re-sign guard Victor Oladipo to a one-year deal earlier this month.

It’s not as much money as his twin brother got, but it’s still a good deal.

Martin said he wanted to be back in Miami, and the Heat wanted him back, the only question was the price. That turned out to be the taxpayer mid-level exception. 

This is for the taxpayer mid-level exception, which starts at $6.4 million and has raises from there.

Martin earned this. He was waived by Charlotte less than a year ago, had to sign a two-way contract with the Heat to keep his foot in the NBA door, and played so well they had to convert him to a regular deal.

Miami is not done rounding out its roster, with the biggest question — can the Heat find a way to win the Kevin Durant sweepstakes — still hanging out there.

Miami had the best record in the East last season and brings back Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, but they need something more to win the East over a healthy Bucks or improved Celtics team. It doesn’t have to be a KD-level move, but the Heat need to do something more.

Brining back Martin is a good move, however.

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New England Patriots acquire WR DeVante Parker in trade with Miami Dolphins

In a rare trade between AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots have acquired Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.

The Dolphins’ acquisition of Tyreek Hill and the free-agent signing of Cedrick Wilson Jr. made Parker expendable. Miami will now have two first-round picks, a second-rounder and two third-rounders in the 2023 NFL draft.

Meanwhile, Parker could be a top option for Patriots second-year quarterback Mac Jones, joining a receiving corps that includes top returnees Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.

Jones immediately took to Twitter to welcome his newest teammate to New England, saying, “Let’s go,” to which Parker replied: “Let’s get it big dawg.”

The Patriots inherit the remaining two years of Parker’s contract, which calls for him to earn base salaries of $5.65 million in 2022 and $5.7 million in 2023. The Patriots are expecting to receive a compensatory third-round pick in 2023 as a result of losing cornerback J.C. Jackson in free agency.

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Since Bill Belichick became head coach of the Patriots in 2000, this is only the fifth trade New England has made with the Dolphins.

The most notable came in 2007 when the Patriots dealt second- and seventh-round picks to Miami for receiver Wes Welker, who went on to set the franchise record for receptions (672).

Belichick knows Parker well from having prepared his teams to face him since 2015, when the Louisville alum entered the NFL as a first-round pick of the Dolphins.

“He’s got a very, very good skill set,” Belichick said of Parker before a game versus the Dolphins in 2020.

“He’s a big athlete that runs well, has good hands, good run-after-the-catch ability, and good quickness for his size. He presents a lot of problems on deep balls. He’s a big target on the end of routes in-cuts and crossing routes. He’s strong, can break tackles as a catcher or run player, so he attacks all three levels of the defense and can be productive at all three [receiver spots].”

The 6-foot-3, 219-pound Parker played in 10 matches last season (eight starts) and totaled 40 receptions for 515 yards and two touchdowns.

Over his NFL career, he has played in 93 games (64 starts), totaling 338 receptions for 4,727 yards and 24 touchdowns. He’s the Dolphins’ sixth-leading receiver all time.

Parker’s breakout season came in 2019, when he recorded 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns on 72 catches. However, his production was limited by his health over the ensuing two seasons, in which he missed nine combined games and recorded a total of 1,308 receiving yards.

As the Dolphins’ new coaching staff assembled a receiver room that specialized in creating separation and yards after the catch, Parker — traditionally a possession receiver — stood as the odd man out.

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