Tagged in: practice

Ricky Rubio back with Suns after testing positive

Phoenix Suns guard Ricky Rubio told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t join the team in Orlando, Florida, until this week because of a positive COVID-19 test. Rubio said he joined the team two days ago and Tuesday was his first practice.

Phoenix has its first scrimmage on Thursday although it’s unclear if Rubio will play.

“I just had two practices so I have to talk with strength coach, [Suns coach Monty Williams] and the whole team,” Rubio said. “I feel good but we have to be smart about it. It’s a preseason game. We have to figure out a plan that’s day by day. We can’t plan ahead like other times. We didn’t know when I was going to come so we have to play it day by day.”

Rubio did not say when he first tested positive for the virus but did state that it was harder on him because while he was in Phoenix, his family stayed back in Spain. Now, he says he has to be careful with how he ramps back up and gets ready to play once again.

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Williams said he would meet with his staff Wednesday night to determine Rubio’s playing status moving forward.

Rubio, who has been involved with the league’s social justice movement while he has been out and was on a recent league call with Breonna Taylor’s mother and lawyer, also tried to put in focus the NBA’s return to basketball in the current social climate.

“It’s tough but the times we live in right now, we have to adjust to the uncomfortable,” Rubio stated. “The NBA did a really good job of keeping us safe down here. At the end of the day, basketball, right now, it’s not the first thing we’re thinking of when it comes to live. There’s a lot on our plate and everybody’s plate. We have to think for the big picture but we’re here and ready to play.”

Rubio is not the only player who hasn’t been with the team in Orlando. The Suns are without guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque for what the team is calling personal matters. Center Aron Baynes told Stadium that he tested positive for COVID-19 and isn’t with the team yet.

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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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NFL shortens preseason to just two weeks as league continues to plot its 2020 strategy

The NFL has taken its next step in adjusting its calendar to prepare for a return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic

The NFL has shortened its 2020 preseason to two games, a source said, part of a larger acclimatization plan for players following an unprecedented virtual offseason program during the coronavirus pandemic.

In essence, the league canceled Weeks 1 and 4 of its original preseason calendar. It had previously canceled its Aug. 8 Hall of Fame game. Most players will still report to training camp on July 28, but the first preseason matches won’t be played until Aug. 20-24. The second week of preseason games are scheduled for Aug. 27-31. Each team will play one home game and one on the road.

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Teams that travel will depart on the day before games.

The primary driver for restructuring the preseason was a consensus between the NFL and NFL Players Association that players will need more time than normal to get in football shape this summer.

No teams were able to practice on the field during the offseason, and many gyms and other conditioning settings have been closed. The NFL’s standard preseason has been four games since it was shortened from six games in 1978. It is expected to be cut further when owners activate a provision in the collective bargaining agreement to extend the regular season to 17 games, which they can do as early as 2021.

When that happens, the preseason would shrink to no more than three games for each team. Of more immediate worry, however, is the health of players during training camp in 2020.

The NFL/NFLPA committee will soon issue a set of guidelines that spells out an acclimatization program for the 23 days of training camp prior to the first preseason game.

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Tennis club apologizes for letting Djokovic train

The tennis club where Novak Djokovic broke confinement rules in Spain stated Tuesday it mistakenly let the top-ranked Serb to practice and apologized for the error.

Djokovic released a video of him training on Monday in apparent violation of Spain’s current rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The video posted on Instagram showed Djokovic exchanging shots with another man at the club in the coastal city of Marbella, where the Serb has been staying for the past several weeks.

Djokovic filmed the video while hitting shots and wrote he was “so happy to play on clay .. well, just for a bit with my phone in the hands.”

Spain has eased some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid-March, allowing professional athletes to return to practice, but most training centers and sports facilities must stay closed until next week.

“We are sorry that our interpretation of the regulation could have been erroneous, and this could have inconvenienced Mr. Djokovic or any other citizen acting in good faith,” the Puente Romano Marbella Tennis Club said in a statement.

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The statement, which was relayed by Djokovic’s management team, said the club got a request from the player to practice and gave him the go-ahead with the “understanding that from May 4 all professional sports players were authorized to train.” The club said it therefore believed he was “permitted to train in our facilities.”

It said it later received a “clarification” from the Spanish tennis federation and “both parties have agreed that training should resume” only next week.

Rafael Nadal stated he also went to train on a court this week, but he did it on private property because the rules weren’t fully clear to him.

Soccer players were among the exceptions who could start training inside sports facilities beginning this week.

Spain has been one of the countries most affected by the pandemic but it started loosening some of its restrictions on movement as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 started to go down recently. The nation went into a lockdown on March 14.

Djokovic recently stated he was against taking a vaccine for the coronavirus if it became mandatory to travel once the pandemic subsides, though he later said he was open to changing his mind.

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NBA to open practice facilities

The NBA will reportedly allow teams to open their practice facilities again beginning on May 1, more than six weeks after it suspended operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teams will be allowed to re-open those facilities only if their respective local governments have eased stay-at-home orders, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

There were more than 926,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Saturday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and millions of Americans are still under some form of a stay-at-home order — many of which have been extended past May 1. 

Teams will not be authorized to require players to work out at their facilities, but rather will let them do so on a voluntary basis.

No organized team activities or group workouts will be allowed, either.

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While some markets will have lifted or significantly loosened stay-at-home restrictions by that date, many will still be implemented past that date — including both New York teams and the four California franchises. The NBA, per Wojnarowski, will work with teams unable to open their facilities directly in order to make sure every player has the opportunity to safely practice again.

Many players had been asking their teams about traveling to Georgia to workout, too, per the report. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has allowed certain businesses in the state to re-open this week — a decision that has drawn criticism, even from President Donald Trump — including gyms. The league, however, made it clear it doesn’t want players working out at public fitness centers there.

Though it appears that this is the first step to resuming the season in some form, the league is “still unsure” when it will play again, if at all, per Wojnarowski.  NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week that the league is “not in a position to make any decisions” about what the rest of the season may look like, but that “everything is on the table.”

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