Tagged in: Manager

Ian Happ gets 3 hits as Cubs beat Brewers 5-4 on opening day

Ian Happ offered Nico Hoerner some friendly advice after he hit the majors’ first homer of 2022.

“Keep hitting more,” Happ cracked. “Yeah, try not to get cold after that.”

It was that type of opening day for the Chicago Cubs.

Happ had three hits, including a tiebreaking two-run double in the seventh inning, and the Cubs defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Thursday.

Hoerner hit a two-run homer and Kyle Hendricks pitched neatly into the sixth, leading Chicago to the triumph on a chilly, overcast afternoon at Wrigley Field. Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki reached three times and scored in his first big league game.

“Who had Nico in the first homer pool?” Cubs manager David Ross joked after the win.

On a day stuffed full of firsts and debuts, Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes and catcher Omar Narváez became the first battery to use baseball’s new electronic pitch-calling system in a regular-season game. The 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner permitted three runs and four hits in five innings.

“Never really actually found the command of the cutter,” Burnes said. “Kind of one of those things, I found it a little bit in the third, but then I just kind of lost it.”

Suzuki singled in the fifth for his first big league hit and walked twice. The 27-year-old finalized an $85 million, five-year contract with Chicago in March in the Cubs’ biggest move of the offseason.

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“In all my at-bats I was able to be myself,” Suzuki said through a translator, “so just enjoyed the game today.”

Andrew McCutchen, Willy Adames and Rowdy Tellez each had two hits for Milwaukee, and Lorenzo Cain drove in two runs. McCutchen served as the designated hitter in his first game with his new team after agreeing to a one-year deal last month.

The Brewers erased a 3-1 deficit with two runs in the seventh, but the Cubs went ahead to stay in the bottom half.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Happ hit a drive off Jake Cousins that caromed off the wall in center. Clint Frazier and Willson Contreras scored on Happ’s second double of the day.

Happ, who homered on baseball’s first pitch of the 2018 season, had elbow surgery in February, but he is feeling pretty good now — about himself and his team.

“Burnes starting Game 1, to be able to kind of put up some runs there and then get a few more and tack on, that says a lot for where we’re at as a team,” Happ said.

The reigning NL Central champions got one back on Cain’s sacrifice fly in the eighth, but David Robertson worked the ninth for his first save since 2018 and No. 138 for his career.

Milwaukee went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base.

“It felt like a game, we didn’t time our hits very well,” manager Craig Counsell said.

Aaron Ashby (0-1) got the loss. He was charged with one run and three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Making his third consecutive opening-day start, Hendricks permitted one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who had a career-high 4.77 ERA last year, struck out seven and walked three.

Chris Martin (1-0) got two outs for the win in his Cubs debut.

The Brewers jumped in front when McCutchen singled and scored the majors’ first run on Cain’s groundout in the fourth. But the Cubs responded with three in the fifth.

Patrick Wisdom hit a sacrifice fly before Hoerner drove a 1-1 pitch from Burnes into the bleachers in left for a tiebreaking two-run shot. It was Hoerner’s first big league homer since Sept. 21, 2019, against St. Louis.

“Sometimes it just lines up,” a smiling Hoerner said.

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Aaron Judge to receive extension offer from New York Yankees, ‘pencils down’ by Opening Day, GM Brian Cashman says

New York Yankees star slugger Aaron Judge will soon get a proposal for a long-term contract extension, general manager Brian Cashman stated Saturday.

“Between now and opening day we’ll make an offer and he’ll obviously receive an offer and all the conversions will have taken place and will either resolve into a multiyear deal or it won’t,” Cashman said.

“We’re committed. We’ll make an offer and hear what he has to say in response and then it will be pencils down before opening day,” he said.

The Yankees open on April 7 at home versus the Boston Red Sox.

Judge said Saturday he was “pretty sure” he doesn’t want to negotiate a new contract during the regular season. The outfielder, who turns 30 next month, is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series.

“We haven’t decided yet, but for right now that’s what we’ve got,” Judge said. “I want to be here. Get a chance to play here for quite a few more years, that would be great. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m not too worried.”

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The Yankees and Judge so far have failed to reach a deal for 2022, which could result in the two sides heading into arbitration during the season. He asked for a raise from $10,175,000 to $21 million, and the Yankees offered $17 million.

“Our position has always been, we wind up only in a hearing if we’re dragged there,” Cashman said. “We only go when forced to go. We’re not afraid of going. Our history shows that we stay out of that arena unless we’re compelled to get there. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Judge, who hit .287 with 39 homers and 98 RBI in 148 games last season, hopes an agreement can be reached to avoid arbitration.

“Go back and forth until we, maybe, can settle on something before the court date and if not, we’ll see each other in court,” Judge said.

Judge said the contract talk isn’t a distraction. “Not really, I’m a baseball player,” he said.

“I’m going to come out and do my usual on the field. I’ve got people that are going to worry about the other stuff for me and put me in the right position and give me the right answers. If I take care of what I’ve got to do on the field, everything is going to workout.”

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Sam Darnold ‘in the lead’ for Carolina Panthers quarterback job, general manager Scott Fitterer says

Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer, less than a month after saying the starting quarterback job was “open,” on Friday said Sam Darnold was “in the lead for that job.”

“We want him to take it and run with it,” Fitterer said. “But we’re gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize the quarterback position to play winning football.

“That’s what we’re working towards.”

A lot has transpired to alter Fitterer’s thought process, starting with Carolina’s failure to acquire Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade with Houston.

Watson ultimately picked Cleveland over Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers were ruled out, according to a league source, because they wouldn’t guarantee the third and fourth years on Watson’s contract.

Watson ultimately got a new, five-year deal with the Browns in which he got $230 million fully guaranteed.

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And while Fitterer wouldn’t admit to disappointment over not getting Watson, he says the roster is better than it was a year ago and the Panthers are “two steps closer” to winning the NFC South.

That said, Fitterer didn’t rule out using the No. 6 pick of the April draft on a quarterback or adding another quarterback before the draft via trade or free agency to compete with Darnold.

The most high-profile quarterback available is Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, who demanded a trade when the Browns started pursuing Watson.

The Panthers presently are not interested in trading for Mayfield, according to a league source.

“We’re monitoring all that,” Fitterer said without addressing Mayfield specifically. “Nothing that we’re going to do immediately.”

Carolina has salary-cap room, around $28 million, to make a move on a quarterback or other players that could improve the roster. Fitterer stated the door hasn’t been closed on bringing back Pro Bowl cornerback Stephon Gilmore or quarterback Cam Newton.

In terms of Newton, Fitterer said the 2015 NFL MVP would have to want to return to Carolina and understand his role for another reunion to occur.

The Panthers made Newton the top pick of the 2011 draft, released him during the 2020 offseason and brought him back on a one-year deal late last season with Darnold on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Newton was 0-5 as the starter in 2021.

Fitterer’s goal is to make the rest of the roster strong enough so that when Carolina finds the right quarterback the team can win. He says the moves made in free agency have the roster closer to that, adding that most of the deals would have been made even if the team got Watson and his new deal.

But Fitterer admitted the best way to build a roster is to drop a young quarterback into the mix and build around him because that’s most cost-efficient, with established veterans getting such big deals.

That’s how he helped Seattle build into a Super Bowl team with Russell Wilson, a third-round pick in 2012 who went on to become a nine-time Pro Bowl selection.

“That’s probably the right way to build it, draft and development,” Fitterer said. “That’d be a really good plan for us moving forward, but we’re open to all options.”

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UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman has hand surgery, is targeting July return

The best MMA fighter in the world went under the knife Monday.

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman had surgery to repair a ligament in his hand, Usman’s manager Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA confirmed to ESPN. UFC president Dana White posted a gruesome photo of the operation on social media.

Abdelaziz stated Usman is targeting a return for International Fight Week, the UFC’s big annual summer celebration in Las Vegas. UFC 276, the culmination of this year’s festivities, is arranged for July 2 at T-Mobile Arena. Abdelaziz would not say which hand Usman had surgery on.

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White has said that Usman’s next title defense likely will come versus top contender Leon Edwards, who is coming off a win over Nate Diaz last June.

ESPN has Usman ranked as the top pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world.

Usman (20-1) is putting together one of the best resumes in UFC history. The Nigeria native, who grew up in Texas, has won 15 consecutive fights, one off the UFC record winning streak held by former middleweight champion and all-time great Anderson Silva. Usman, 34, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Colby Covington at UFC 268 last November.

Usman has been welterweight champion since 2019, collecting five title defenses.

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Boston Red Sox exercise club option on manager Alex Cora for 2023-24 seasons

The Boston Red Sox have exercised Alex Cora’s club option through the 2023 and 2024 seasons, the team revealed Monday.

Cora, 46, is 284-202 in three seasons as Red Sox manager, having led the club to a winning record in all three seasons at the helm, including setting a franchise record with 108 victories and a World Series title in 2018.

“I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to manage the Red Sox,” Cora said in a statement. “We experienced so many special moments as a team and as a city in 2021, but we still have unfinished business to take care of. I am excited about the current state of our organization and eager to continue my work with our front office, coaches, players, and everyone who makes this such a special place.”

Cora was let go after he was identified as the ringleader in the Houston Astros cheating scandal.

After Ron Roenicke managed the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Cora was brought back to the Boston dugout.

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Cora, who finished fifth in AL Manager of the Year voting, led the Red Sox to a 92-70 record during the 2021 regular season, counting a Major League-best 47 come-from-behind wins.

The Red Sox advanced to the American League Championship Series after defeating the rival New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game and the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series. Boston fell in the ALCS to the Astros in six games.

“There’s so much that you can say about what an organization looks for in a manager,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. “I think a lot of it comes down to leadership and partnership. You’re seeking a leader, not just for your clubhouse, but for the entire organization, and a partner in our goal of bringing championship caliber baseball to Fenway Park on an annual basis. And in Alex, we have both of those things.

“One of the unique things about Alex is that he combines a lot of different qualities that help bring the best out of players, his feel for the game of baseball, his intellect, just the way he notices things on the field and is able to combine them with the preparation that he does to maximize what goes on the field. He can really take a clubhouse to another level, there’s not that many people that bring both of those things to the table in abundance like Alex does. On top of that, he’s just a great guy to work with. He’s charismatic, he’s funny, he’s real.”

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Boston Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez (sprained left ankle) included on AL Division Series roster

Slugger J.D. Martinez is on the Boston Red Sox roster but didn’t play during a 5-0 loss in Game 1 of the American League Division Series versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

Manager Alex Cora said after Thursday’s loss that there’s “a strong possibility” Martinez will be in the starting lineup for Friday’s Game 2, but he made no guarantees.

Martinez also missed Tuesday night’s victory over the New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game because of a sprained left ankle.

Martinez stumbled over second base while heading to the outfield in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Washington.

Because the National League does not use a DH in games played in its stadiums, Martinez was playing right field versus the Nationals. He stepped on the bag and twisted the ankle heading out to play defense in the fifth inning.

It was only the seventh game in 2021 that Martinez started in right field. He was in the starting lineup as a DH for 113 games and as the left fielder for 28.

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Martinez hit .286 with an AL-leading 42 doubles and 28 homers and 99 RBIs during the regular season.

Tampa Bay has 13 pitchers on its roster that does not include speedy outfielder Brett Phillips. Lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who went 9-7 with a 5.11 ERA in 30 games, including 21 starts, was also left off.

Rays manager Kevin Cash stated he planned to be aggressive in using his bullpen during the series. He said right-hander Drew Rasmussen will start Game 3 or 4, with the other contest being a bullpen day.

Boston also added Game 2 starter Chris Sale, left-hander Martin Perez and infielder Danny Santana to the ALDS roster.

Sale made nine starts this year after having Tommy John surgery on March 30, 2020.

“It’s been two years trying to get to this point,” Cora said. “All the hard work, all the tears and sweat throughout the process. So we have to take care of him, but it was his turn and we feel comfortable with him.”

Sale said he would be available to work as a reliever later in the series as well.

“There’s no reason to save an arm to go sit on the couch, you know what I mean?” Sale said. “This is all the baseball we have left, and we’re going to get certain points in these series where tomorrow might not come. So if that’s the case and it’s what’s called upon, you know, it’s my job.”

With Boston having several left-handed starting pitchers on its roster, Tampa Bay added right-handed-hitting outfielder Jordan Luplow. The AL East champion Rays lost the World Series in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020.

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Two-time All-Star Luis Severino returns to New York Yankees, works two innings in 7-1 victory

Luis Severino took the mound in a major-league game for the first time since the 2019 American League Championship Series on Tuesday.

The two-time All-Star, who has battled myriad injuries since re-signing with the Yankees, entered in the unfamiliar role of reliever, working the final two innings of New York’s 7-1 victory over the Texas Rangers.

“Proud moment for him and for his teammates and for all of us who have seen him go through a lot,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone stated. “He’s battled different things, and has worked his tail off to get to this moment.”

He worked a quick eighth, authoring two strikeouts and a groundout to go along with a double. In the ninth, he permitted a single before ending it with a double play and a flyout.

“I was feeling a lot of different emotions. But I’m happy to be back, happy to finally help the team,” Severino told the YES Network. “I knew after the first pitch, that it was going to come back to normal.”

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He concluded with 30 pitches, 19 of which were strikes.

“There’s got to be rust, nerves, all of that, going out there,” Boone said. “And I thought he executed, and hopefully this is a step forward for him to help us here down the stretch.”

Severino was activated before Monday’s 4-3 victory over the Rangers, with Boone clearly saying he wanted to start him out as a reliever. Where he goes from here, an optimistic Boone wouldn’t say.

“I’m not going to cap what that can be. We’ll see,” he said. “That’s a talented person and a great pitcher. I’m not going to limit what he’s capable of.”

Giancarlo Stanton hit his 31st home run in the victory, while Joey Gallo added his 38th and Aaron Judge launched his 36th as New York’s offense woke up. It indeed was a feel-good night in The Bronx, despite the fact that the Yankees did not gain any ground in the American League wild-card race.

“He felt great to be a part of it,” Boone said of Severino. “There was some emotion in his voice, and you can imagine the hard work he’s put in to get to this point. It was a good night for him.”

The 27-year-old right-hander had Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020. He made four minor league appearances totaling 10⅔ innings for Tampa, Hudson Valley and Somerset, permitting four runs, five hits and one home run with three walks and 15 strikeouts.

His rehabilitation was slowed when he injured his right groin on June 12 in his second minor league appearance for Hudson Valley at Brooklyn.

Severino returned to pitch for Somerset on Aug. 3 and Aug. 8, then was scratched from an Aug. 13 outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of shoulder tightness.

“The fans always help me, every time I’m out there, and I knew we scored seven runs,” Severino said. “So, I was pretty calm out there.”

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Clint Capela signs contract extension with Hawks reportedly worth $46 million over two years

Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela has agreed to a two-year, $46 million contract extension, tying him to the franchise through the 2024-25 season, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Capela had two years left on his existing contract, and he now is set to make $82 million over the next four seasons with the Hawks.

His representatives at Wasserman completed the new deal with Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk ahead of an Oct. 18 deadline for the extension.

Capela, 27, played an immense role in the Hawks’ run to the Eastern Conference finals last season. He averaged 15.2 points and a league-leading 14.3 rebounds in the regular season and played well in postseason series triumphs over New York and Philadelphia.

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He played an immense role in improving the Hawks’ defense, finishing with a 4.98 defensive real plus-minus, according to ESPN’s Stats & Info. He trailed only Utah’s Rudy Gobert, the league’s defensive player of the year, in that category.

The Hawks signed Capela in a 2020 trade with Houston, where he had played his first six NBA seasons.

Capela is the third Atlanta starter to sign a contract extension this summer, joining All-Star guard Trae Young and forward John Collins. With Capela, Young and Collins all signed to new deals this summer, Atlanta has now locked in its core group of players until at least 2025, when Bogdan Bogdanovic is set to become an unrestricted free agent.

The next deals that will have to be worked out are Kevin Huerter, who will be a restricted free agent next summer, and De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, who still have two more years of team control before they hit restricted free agency in 2024.

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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone: Not sure whether Clint Frazier will play again amid vision issues

Yankees manager Aaron Boone isn’t clear that Clint Frazier will be able to play baseball again after the outfielder was pulled from a minor league rehab assignment Monday amid continuing issues with his vision.

“We’ll see,” Boone said when asked whether Frazier would play again. “Obviously he’s been through a lot and been through a lot of seeing a lot of people and a lot of testing and everything. We’ll just try and continue to follow and support him where we can. But as of right now, a little holding pattern. I know he feels well today, so we’ll just see.”

Frazier, 26, started a minor league rehab assignment last Tuesday after missing nearly six weeks due to dizziness and other symptoms consistent with vertigo. He went 4-for-10 over three games, but Boone stated Frazier felt unwell prior to Sunday’s game with Double-A Somerset and took himself out of the lineup.

Frazier was formally pulled from the rehab assignment Monday and transferred to the 60-day injured list. “Just didn’t feel like he was good enough to post,” Boone said before New York played the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.

“And so, decided to pull the plug, and we applaud him for making that decision.” Boone said before New York played the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. “And so, decided to pull the plug, and we applaud him for making that decision.”

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Frazier was placed on the injured list July 1 with what was initially called vertigo and later defined as a possible vision issue.

He missed nearly all of the 2018 season with lingering concussion symptoms, but it’s not clear whether his current concerns are related.

A 2013 first-round pick by Cleveland, Frazier hit well in 2019 but was banished to Triple-A for much of the season following several defensive miscues.

He finally cracked New York’s crowded outfield for regular playing time in 2020 and shined. He batted .267 with a .905 OPS and steadier defense in left and right field, earning an everyday role for the 2021 season.

The breakout has fizzled this year. Frazier hit .186 with five homers and a .633 OPS in 66 games before going on the IL.

Also Monday, right-hander Luis Severino (right shoulder tightness) had an MRI as planned. Boone said the team hoped to review the results before the end of the night.

Catcher Gary Sanchez (COVID-19 IL) hit on the field and could be activated Tuesday for a doubleheader versus the Boston Red Sox.

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New York Yankees place Gleyber Torres on injured list, expect star shortstop to miss 10-20 days

New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres was placed on the injured list Monday after an MRI revealed a left thumb sprain, the team revealed.

New York manager Aaron Boone, speaking before the Yankees opened a road series vs. the Kansas City Royals, said he understood the club received some “good news” in that he only expected Torres to be out 10-20 days.

The timing is not great for Torres, who had been heating up alongside his surging teammates. He went 3-for-4 in Sunday’s series finale vs. the Seattle Mariners, and has three home runs and 13 RBIs since the club returned from the All-Star break.

The Yankees lost Sunday to Seattle, 2-0, but took three of four in that series and had won eight of the last 10 headed into Monday’s game.

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“I think we were concerned that it was going to be more serious,” Boone said. “Realistically, we’ll have a better idea in the next couple of days. I think we were kind of expecting the worst.”

Boone also told reporters that Torres, who did not make the trip with the club to Kansas City, would soon see a specialist.

In the fourth inning on Sunday, Torres slid into second back on a steal attempt, injuring the finger. Boone said after the game that Torres’ condition worsened as the day went on.

New York is already without another mainstay on the left side of the infield, in third baseman Gio Urshela. He has a strained left hamstring, but took defensive drills and ran the bases on Sunday before the road trip. He could be activated on Wednesday.

It has been a puzzling year for Torres, like many Yankees, who have scuffled through most of the campaign. The two-time All-Star, who hit 38 home runs in 2019, has only six this season and didn’t hit his first until May 9.

The Yankees also optioned right-handed pitcher Luis Gil to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre while recalling right-handed pitcher Nick Nelson. To fill Torres’ roster spot, the club selected the contract of infielder Andrew Velasquez from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

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