Tagged in: prospect

Milwaukee Brewers bolster bullpen, acquire reliever Matt Bush from Texas Rangers

The NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers got hard-throwing reliever and former No. 1 draft pick Matt Bush from the Texas Rangers on Monday night for infielder Mark Mathias and a top pitching prospect.

Bush is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA and one save in 40 games this campaign, including five starting in an opener role. He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his past 12 appearances.

He was brought in to help fortify the Brewers’ bullpen on the same day they traded All-Star closer Josh Hader to San Diego for reliever Taylor Rogers and three other players.

“A little shocked, definitely wasn’t expecting it, but I guess just a bittersweet moment,” Bush said. “It’s also really exciting to go to the Brewers, a team that’s really winning right now and has a chance of going to the playoffs and doing big things.” Texas got Mathias and left-handed pitcher Antoine Kelly. Mathias will be added to the 40-man roster with the Rangers, and Kelly will be assigned to their minor league system.

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Bush, 36, has spent all five of his big league seasons with the Rangers (2016-18, 2021-22). He was the first pick in the 2004 draft as a shortstop by his hometown San Diego Padres.

Bush was a 30-year-old rookie when he made his major league debut with Texas in 2016.

That first game came nearly 12 years after he was drafted, the longest gap for a No. 1 pick to make his debut.

hat first game came nearly 12 years after he was drafted, the longest gap for a No. 1 pick to make his debut.

In 180 big league games as a pitcher, he is 12-7 with a 3.34 ERA and 188 strikeouts in 177⅔ innings

“It’s really hard to say goodbye here. This has been home for me for quite a while,” Bush said. “My family and I have been treated so well here, and I feel like the organization’s always taken care of myself first and then baseball.”

While with the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2012, Bush had a DUI crash during spring training that seriously injured, and nearly killed, a 72-year-old man on a motorcycle. Bush spent 3½ years in prison.

The Rangers scouted Bush in the parking lot of a restaurant where he was employed while in a work-release program for the final months of his prison sentence in the fall of 2015.

Bush twice had surgery on his right elbow while with the Rangers. After a procedure in 2018 to repair and reinforce the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament didn’t work, Bush needed Tommy John surgery in 2019.

It was the second time he had had that ligament replacement surgery since converting from shortstop to pitcher not long after getting drafted.

After missing all of 2019 and 2020, his only appearance for Texas last year was a scoreless inning in the season finale.

Mathias, who turns 28 on Tuesday, has started five games at second base for the Brewers this season. He made his big league debut playing 16 games for Milwaukee in 2020 before missing all of last season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Kelly, who is 22 and was a selection for the All-Star Futures Game, was a second-round pick by the Brewers in the 2019 draft. He was 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 19 starts at Class A Wisconsin this season.

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Taylor Fritz ends Rafael Nadal’s 20-match win streak with win at Indian Wells

Hours from playing in the biggest final of his young career, Taylor Fritz was in severe pain. The prospect of having to withdraw versus Rafael Nadal nearly had him in tears.

His coach urged him not to risk potentially damaging his sore ankle further. Fritz stubbornly refused to bow out.

His faith in himself paid off. Fritz upset Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (5) Sunday to win the BNP Paribas Open and snap the 21-time major champion’s 20-match winning streak this year.

“It was a complete nonissue, didn’t feel it at all, didn’t hinder me at all,” said Fritz, who tweaked his ankle late in his semifinal victory over No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev.

Blue medical tape could be seen above his high sock and he had it numbed before the final. Nadal had his own health issue. He came into the match bothered by painful breathing that he first experienced in a three-set semifinal win.

He took two medical timeouts during the final. The first one came after he lost the first set. Nadal went inside with a trainer after tapping his upper left chest. He received treatment on court after falling behind 5-4 in the second set.

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“When I try to breathe, it’s painful and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s like a needle all the time inside. I get dizzy a little bit because it’s painful. It’s a kind of pain that limit me a lot,” said Nadal, who turns 36 in June.

“The thing that worries me now, it’s about what’s going on there, what I have to do now to recover and how long it’s going to take.”

Nadal’s 20-0 start to the year included the Australian Open, his 21st major championship that broke a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. He also won titles in Melbourne and Acapulco.

“Of course, the last two months have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional,” Nadal said. “I enjoy things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.”

Fritz didn’t waste any time in attacking Nadal, racing to a 5-1 lead in the first set with two breaks. Nadal got a break back in closing to 5-3, but his backhand error gave Fritz another break and the set.

“It’s an honor to even be on the same court as this guy,” Fritz told the crowd. “I grew up watching this guy win everything.”

Nadal fought off a match point on his serve with a forehand winner to tie the second set 5-all. He had two break points on Fritz’s serve in the next game, but the American held for a 6-5 lead. Nadal held to force the tiebreaker.

Nadal sent two straight forehands well wide to set up Fritz’s second match point.

Another Nadal error sent Fritz to the biggest victory of his career not far from where he grew up near San Diego. Fritz’s parents, Guy Fritz and Kathy May, are former tour players.

“He told me that I was going to win this tournament one day when I was a little kid,” Fritz said. “It was pretty tough not being emotional with my parents, especially my dad. He was just really, really proud of me. It’s really tough to get a compliment out of him.”

Fritz dropped his racket and collapsed on his back after clinching the title on his second match point. He got up smiling with a look of disbelief on his face. He became the first American man to win Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001.

“I just kept telling myself there’s no reason why I can’t win this,” Fritz said.

Fritz is projected to rise from No. 20 to a career-high 13th in Monday’s ATP Tour rankings and will become the top-ranked American player. Nadal moves up to No. 3.

Nadal had already decided to skip next week’s tournament in Miami and head home to Spain to prepare for the French Open, which starts May 22.

Fritz is scheduled for a MRI on his ankle Monday and isn’t sure whether he’ll be able to play in Miami.

The Miami Open started on Monday. Daniil Medvedev is among the notables who are playing on the men’s side, as well as Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini. Hubert Hurkacz won the event last year.

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Anthony Joshua dispatches Kubrat Pulev via KO, sets up prospect of Tyson Fury bout

Anthony Joshua returned to ruthless form by dispatching Kubrat Pulev in nine rounds in London on Saturday to set up the prospect of facing Tyson Fury in 2021.

The WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion kept his titles by turning on the power switch to drop Pulev twice in the ninth round. It was Joshua’s first knockout victory since his previous performance on home soil, in September 2018.

Pulev crumbled to the canvas under a barrage of right uppercuts and was then finished by a straight right hand.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., the retired former pound-for-pound boxing No. 1, had made the trip from the United States to be among 1,000 present at the SSE Arena and was the first to congratulate Joshua at ringside.

Since halting Alexander Povetkin two years ago, the English boxer lost his titles via a shock knockout to American Andy Ruiz Jr. before regaining them on points a year ago.

This was a much more explosive performance from Joshua than the Ruiz rematch, as Joshua floored tough Pulev twice in Round 3 and twice in Round 9 in front of the first crowd at a professional boxing event in the U.K. since March.

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A second defense in his second reign as world heavyweight clears the way for Joshua to fight either rival world heavyweight champion Fury, his fellow Englishman, or Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk first in 2021.

Fury, regarded as the world No. 1 heavyweight by ESPN after stopping Deontay Wilder for the WBC title in February, would be the preferred choice, but because of mandatory defense obligations, former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Usyk might be the first person in the opposing corner to Joshua in 2021.

“It’s not about the opponent — it’s about who has got the belt, and if that’s Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury,” Joshua said. “It’s one fight at a time, picking them off one by one.”

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn stated he wants Fury to be Joshua’s next opponent in 2021, despite the obstacles, including legal action Wilder has brought to enforce a third fight with Fury.

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UCLA Chris Smith enter NBA draft

UCLA junior Chris Smith is entering the 2020 NBA draft, he told ESPN on Tuesday.

“I’m 100% committed to the process and am excited to see what the future holds,” Smith stated.

Smith, the No. 72 prospect in the ESPN Top 100, is coming off a breakout season, earning Pac-12 Most Improved Player and All-Pac-12 first-team honors.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per match for the Bruins, helping his team recover from a poor start to finish the campaign 12-6 in the Pac-12. UCLA was the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament prior to it being canceled.

Smith enrolled at UCLA as a 17-year-old and is the youngest junior in the ESPN 100; he is younger than most sophomores and even some freshman projected to be drafted, having only turned 20 in late December.

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He is intriguing to NBA teams not only due to his age, but also his versatility.

He has perimeter skill, making 35% of his 3-pointers this campaign and 85% of his free throws. Defensively, he was regularly tasked with defending opposing guards, doing a better job of buying into using his tools more regularly as the season moved on under Mick Cronin, one of the reasons UCLA won nine of its last 11 games.

The NBA draft is programmed for June 25, but following worldwide suspensions of basketball activities during the coronavirus pandemic, NBA front-office executives and others in the industry told ESPN they are bracing for the potential impact of a delayed 2020 draft with a heavily reduced pre-draft process.

A player like Smith would be highly sought for private workouts and interviews, as teams would surely like to get a better handle on the likelihood of him reaching his untapped potential.

The NBA informed teams on Monday that organizations are prohibited from conducting in-person workouts or interviews with draft-eligible players until further notice.

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